Australia’s David Jones celebrates its 175th birthday this year, making it the oldest department in the world to be operating under its original name. Last night in Sydney, DJs staged its Autumn/Winter 2013 fashion showcase. Thanks to a dramatic expansion of the backstage area - 250sqm of it in fact, over double the space allocated for the previous two seasons - there was so much more room for the media in attendance, from DJs’ outside broadcast camera crew, who were shooting for the live stream, to all the photographers and social media chroniclers on deck (see our backstage portfolio, below). The latter included many of the models themselves, who were happy-snapping and Instagramming in the lineup in their first looks.
Since David Jones first unveiled its restored Level Seven ballroom this time last year as the venue for its bi-annual fashion showcase, the production level has not, in frockwriter’s opinion, done justice to this extraordinary space.
But what a difference new hire Rizer Events made. Recently defected from arch rival Myer, after producing their shows for 11 seasons, the Rizer team set about creating a set with a heritage feel, in line with the 175th birthday.
The models navigated through a replica 19th century wood veneer shopfront to get to the runway. One hundred and fifty square metres of laser-cut mirrors were suspended above the catwalk, with 28 lead crystal chandeliers strung down its length on either side. Guests were perched on 368 black plastic Philippe Starck Louis Ghost chairs.
DJs star Miranda Kerr was joined by a cast that included Jessica Gomes, Samantha Harris, Bambi Northwood-Blyth, Rose Smith, Rachel Rutt, Christina Carey, Caitlin Lomax, Louise van de Vorst, Jack Vanderhart, NZ's Samantha Shorter (in the shot at the top of this post) and a few up-and-comers such as Gabby Westbrook-Patrick from Sydney, Adelaide’s Megan Irwin and brand new Gold Coast face Nicola Walsh. Here is the complete cast list.
The brand line-up kicked off with new-to-DJs Ellery - which also recently defected from Myer, with designer Kym Ellery currently being sued by Myer for breach-of-contract - and included Collette Dinnigan, Thurley, Romance Was Born, Akira, Zimmermann, Gary Bigeni, Easton Pearson, Sabatini, Willow and super cool knitwear brand Banjo & Matilda, its first season at David Jones.
Closing honours were accorded to Dion Lee – who heads to London next Tuesday, to prepare for the final of the International Woolmark Prize at the M.E. Hotel on February 16.
Lee's AW13 'Transit' collection demonstrates why he is the hottest name in Australian fashion at the moment. The sleek, futuristic collection of Spandex knits, bonded tech jersey overlaid with thermal imaging graphics and slashed and plaited leather is not for the budget customer - the black laser-cut leather dress in which Kerr closed the show will set you back AUD 3,490. But that's small change in the apparently recession-proof luxury business. And if Christian Dior has just invested millions in opening its first Australian flagship just down the road from DJs, where Dior's complete luxury ready-to-wear collection will be on offer here for the first time, you know they did their homework about the market potential.
At the Australian Fashion Foundation party in Sydney just before Christmas Lee told me he was gearing up to present his northern hemisphere Fall/Winter 2013/2014 collection on schedule at London Fashion Week on the same day as the International Woolmark Prize. Not surprisingly perhaps, plans have now changed and the collection will now be presented in a London showroom instead, while Lee focusses his attention on the IWP presentation.