So Australian Fashion Week is back in its third incarnation from April 30th to May 4th. Founded in 1996 as Mercedes Australian Fashion Week, Rosemount became the naming rights sponsor in 2007 and now, five years later, Mercedes-Benz is back on deck, to the reported tune of AUD 1million. The new official title is Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. For the past four years we have pulled together a preview schedule ahead of organiser IMG Fashion Asia Pacific's official schedule release. So here we go again. Why so soon? Because earlier this week IMG went out with a press release - unusually, some nine weeks ahead of the event - to announce which designers are on board so far this season. Could the timing of this release have anything to do with next week's L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival? We have a hunch it might. UPDATE 07/04: FINAL CONFIRMED SCHEDULE BELOW, VIA MBFWA. UPDATE 16/04: BOTH DION LEE AND JOSH GOOT HAVE NOW CANCELLED THEIR MBFWA SHOWS.
Over the past two years IMG Fashion Asia Pacific has haemorrhaged key staff members, starting with Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock (who sold the event's parent company, Australian Fashion Innovators, to IMG in 2005). Australian Fashion Week's former communications director, Graeme Lewsey, defected to LMFF last year as the new ceo of the 16 year-old consumer-focussed Melbourne retail festival. With 16 years of fashion industry goodwill behind him as Lock's former lieutenant at AFW, Lewsey is quite the LMFF drawcard.
For the second consecutive year, Sydney eveningwear specialist and fashion reality tv star Alex Perry will be unveiling his Spring/Summer collection at LMFF. And for the second time in 17 years, Perry won't be showing at Australian Fashion Week.
Perry split his collection in two last year and showed one section in Melbourne in March and the other, during RAFW in May. Although he did miss one previous RAFW in 2010, Perry is one of a number of designers who are concerned that the early May timing of Australian Fashion Week is now too late for their production schedules.
Equally troubling for IMG may be the fact that a new, independent Australian fashion trade show called The Wearer's Right is staging its second showcase in Melbourne from March 12-14 during LMFF. The Wearer's Right has 17 brands in its Spring/Summer 2012/2013 lineup including edgy names such as New Zealand's high profile Stolen Girlfriends Club - a brand that has shown several times at Australian Fashion Week. Let's not forget that IMG and its predecessor, Australian Fashion Innovators, have traditionally operated a small trade show adjacent to the Australian Fashion Week runways. Never terribly successfully.
Not only does LMFF have tv magnet Perry's only SS1213 show and at least 17 other brands unveiling their SS1213 collections to the trade at The Wearer's Right, LMFF will also be taking the PR initiative on discussions regarding the timing of Australian fashion trade events - notably Australian Fashion Week - by staging an industry forum on the subject on its schedule on March 13th, called 'What's the industry's verdict?'.
Isn't LMFF supposed to be a retail event, designed to showcase what's in store right now to consumers? That was the original mandate. But it seems the lines are starting to blur.
Whatever the outcome of the show timing discussions, great to see Mercedes-Benz back on board Australian Fashion Week as an investor and enough paid-up, over-the-line designers in 2012 to even warrant a press release as early as late February.
In terms of on-schedule, on-site shows at the event's central hub at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, it is also encouraging to see the return of a third show venue - the large, external, purpose-built tent, called 'The Tent' this year, which was dropped in 2009 in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis when designers started tightening their belts. This year the medium-sized Cargo Hall is called 'The Theatre'; and the smallest space, located on the first level of the OPT is called 'The Box'. Many of the presentations in that space will be just that - static presentations.
Here is the preliminary schedule, which includes a number of solo debuts, such as emerging designers Watson x Watson, Hollywood red carpet specialist Johanna Johnson and big buzz swimwear brand We Are Handsome. Elliot Ward-Fear was signed up to do a solo show, but has now pulled out.
Yet another week of off-schedule presentations looks to be shaping up in the week leading up to the main event. Toni Maticevski, you will note, is showing both on- and off-schedule in Sydney. He's also doing a show during LMFF - of current and archival eveningwear, however, nothing new.
TUESDAY APRIL 3 & WEDNESDAY APRIL 4 2012
LEONA EDMISTON, (PRIVATE APPOINTMENTS)
THURSDAY APRIL 19TH 2012
09.00 LIFE WITH BIRD, UTZON ROOM, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
TUESDAY APRIL 24TH 2012
10.30 CARLA ZAMPATTI, 327C EGDECLIFF ROAD, WOOLLAHRA
19.00 PHOENIX KEATING, PADDINGTON UNITING CHURCH, 395 OXFORD STREET
THURSDAY APRIL 26TH 2012 TONI MATICEVSKI 'COLLECTIONS SHOW' (MADE-TO-ORDER)
MONDAY APRIL 30TH 2012
09.00 ROMANCE WAS BORN, OFF-SITE
10.00 LISA MAREE, THE TENT
11.00 GAIL SORRONDA, THE BOX 12.00 GARY BIGENI, THE THEATRE
13.00 KIRRILY JOHNSTON, OFF-SITE
14.00 CAMILLA, THE TENT
15.00 DYLAN COOPER, THE BOX 16.00 MISS UNKON, THE THEATRE
17.00 MANNING CARTELL 19.00 JOHANNA JOHNSON, THE BOX 18.00 AURELIO COSTARELLA, THE THEATRE
20.00 KSUBI, THE THEATRE
21.00 GINGER & SMART
TUESDAY MAY 1ST 2012 09.00 ZIMMERMANN, OFF-SITE
10.00 TONI MATICEVSKI (READY-TO-WEAR), THE TENT
11.00 FLOWERS FOR A VAGABOND, THE BOX 12.00 TALULAH, THE THEATRE
13.00 MICHAEL LO SORDO, OFF-SITE
14.00 TOI ET MOI, THE TENT
15.00 SONG FOR THE MUTE, THE BOX
16.00 BY JOHNNY, THE THEATRE
17.00 MAGDALENA VELEVSKA, OFF-SITE 18.00 JOHANNA JOHNSON, THE TENT
19.00 JAYSON BRUNSDON, THE BOX
20.00 BOWIE, THE THEATRE
WEDNESDAY MAY 2ND 2012
09.00 LISA HO, OFF-SITE
10.00 ALICE MCCALL, THE TENT
11.00 SARA PHILLIPS, THE BOX
12.00 BEC & BRIDGE, THE THEATRE
13.00 ELLERY, OFF-SITE
14.00 OROTON, THE TENT
15.00 HARDWICK BY MARIANA HARDWICK, THE BOX
16.00 WATSON X WATSON, THE THEATRE
18.00 KOOEY AUSTRALIA, THE TENT
19.00 AN ODE TO NOONE, THE THEATRE
21.00 MENSWEAR GROUP SHOW, THE TENT
THURSDAY MAY 3RD 2012
10.00 NEW GENERATION GROUP SHOW 1, THE TENT
11.00 JENNY KEE, THE BOX
12.00 WE ARE HANDSOME, THE THEATRE
13.00 AJE, TBC VENUE 14.00 FASHION DESIGN STUDIO GROUP SHOW, THE TENT
15.00 CHRISTOPHER ESBER, THE BOX
16.00 ROOPA PEMMARAJU, THE THEATRE
19.00 CARL KAPP, THE TENT
21.00 DION LEE, OFF-SITE
FRIDAY MAY 4TH 2012
09.00 CHAILIE HO, THE THEATRE 10.00 RAFFLES GROUP SHOW, THE TENT
11.00 AKIRA, THE BOX
12.00 BLESS'ED ARE THE MEEK, THE THEATRE
13.00 JOSH GOOT, TBC VENUE
14.00 NEW GENERATION GROUP SHOW 2, THE TENT
18.00 NANA JUDY, THE TENT
21.00 FERNANDO FRISONI, TBC VENUE
1. we are handsome/ifitshipitshere;
2. elliot ward-fear/thom kerr via frockwriter;
4. watson x watson/watson x watson;
5. aje./fashion be late;
6. ode to noone/style palace blog;
7. michael lo sordo/frockwriter;
8. miss unkon/style palace blog;
9. johanna johnson/hello magazine;