Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Once were couturiers - Australian fashion icons reband to launch LMFF 2011

So there I was, navigating the fluorescent yellow bowels of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, when I bumped into an Australian fashion icon waving a steam wand. Jenny Kee, co-founder of the 1970s label and boutique Flamingo Park, was trying to get the creases out of a multicoloured scarf headdress that was due to be showcased in Fashion Full Stop, last night's opening show of the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival (which frockwriter is attending as a guest of the organisers and Tourism Victoria). Kee was resplendent in three examples of her own handiwork: a 1983 suit from Karl Lagerfeld's debut collection for Chanel, which incorporated Kee's black opal print, some vintage Flamingo Park and one of the scarves from her brand new online boutique. "It's all about online now" noted Kee, when I asked why she and former sidekick Linda Jackson don't relaunch Flamingo Park. "You need lots of money" explained Jackson backstage a few minutes later - reiterating sentiments she expressed at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week back in 2008, after Therese Rawsthorne showed a collection using Jackson's waratah print. They might not (yet) have put the band back together, but fantastic to see Kee and Jackson together again making fashion magic last night, with more than a little help from the new generation of Australian fashion talents, in one rollercoaster retrospective that spanned fifty years.

Michelle Jank did a tremendous job styling the show, together with Kelvin Harries. Other brands included Norma Tullo, Prue Acton, Kate Durham and Morrissey Edmiston. Models included Rachel Rutt, Tiah Eckhardt, Christina Carey, Simone Kerr, Samantha Harris, Vanessa Milde, Emily Cattermole and Greta Chesterman (who could in fact, it now occurs to me, pass for Anja Rubik's little sister).

I shot the whole show from backstage, which was manic, as the very large production included dancers, entertainers and various Melbourne celebrities. 

One memorable moment came at the very end of the show, as Jank and team frantically attempted to secure a massive tulle headpiece to Rutt's head at the climax of the bridal finale. 

An elaborate contraption that included several illuminated paper lanterns, it proved too difficult to secure in time, with Rutt's exit apparently synchronised to a fireworks sequence that was already queued. As they finally gave up and pushed her out onto the runway sans veil, at least a dozen people who had been watching uttered a collective sigh, which seemed so loud it may well have been heard from the audience. 

Rutt subsequently returned backstage, the headpiece was finally secured and she did a victory lap in the full ensemble. This may explain any continuity issues with photos. 

Great kickoff to the week. 

Click (here) to see frockwriter's Posterous backstage pic gallery of 72 images. 


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