Sunday, April 20, 2008

you say inspiration, i say...

With RAFW around the corner, the bets are on: who will attempt to 'reinterpret' Givenchy's eyelets from Spring 2008? (Copying is such a strong, accusatory word. Besides, if it's in a cheap fabric, it's not really copying now, is it?) Many in the industry have no doubt that the suppliers in China have been busy for the past six months reproducing them, but let's wait and see. Nicole Phelps over at wasn't too taken with them, but Vogue Paris devoted a number of pages to the collection some months ago.

Looking at the schedule, it's good to see Therese Rawsthorne on there, as well as Romance Was Born, Friedrich Gray and Tina Kalivas. It's not so good to see the somewhat mad person who last season ripped off a friend to the tune of thousands. I worked for this person briefly some years ago, but got fed up with the twenty SMS I'd receive between 10pm and 6am, daily. Strangely last season's collection was essentially the same as four years ago, so I'm a little curious as to what will come down the runway this time. As a change of pace from last season, let's hope the outfits stay in one piece for the duration of the exits, at least... This company is another contender for the 'How to go broke [painfully] slowly' category as defined by Kathleen Fasanella.


Cultures said...

The best representation of Australian Fashion Week is through the individual shows by designers not on the official calendar. And whilst a number of hard working genuine designers are showing during the week at Circular Quay, the overall show management is honestly, about massive media support and attention. I don't feel the Australian Fashion Press or the people that run RAFW are warm hearted enough to give opportunities to Australian designers who have a much more idiosyncratic nature to their work and it's sad and disappointing that they aren't recognised as those we hear endlessly.

I just read articles on The Age raising issues of the huge amount of costs to gain entry into RAFW as a designer collection and one designer who applied but was even knocked back. If we are to be best recognised by the true beauty of Australian Fashion, shouldn't this be the case? I do sincerely feel that the future will be brighter for emerging talented designers that we can cherish and hold but RAFW seems to be a media conglomerate spinning machine that anything else.

Myself as an individual, It would be great that maybe all the individual designers who do have originality and integrity can come together to create their own week where they can show their collections. Or now what is happening that this could be organised by the individual's own P.R. company so that this can be done. And it's already happening to those with off sight shows.

I hate to say it but Australian Fashion and its industry as a whole is still obsessed and blinded by money and fashion commercialism.

Timo Rissanen said...

Excellent points! I should add, though, that even an on-a-shoestring off-schedule show can cost almost as much as being on the official RAFW schedule. Younger designers in particular seem to think of the show as really important, perhaps because of how the shows are portrayed in the media. There is the triumphant bow in the end; possibly an after-party - it's perhaps the closest a designer gets to have his/her rockstar moment.

Your idea of an independent group is a great one, and reminds me of the differences between the organisations behind fashion weeks in Australia and, say, France. The Chambre Syndicale in France is very much an industry body while the week here is run by an organisation with its own commercial interests. Not to say they don't have the industry's interests in mind - I believe they do - but aspects of it could be more transparent. And I've never agreed with the timing, given how much it is being publicised as an 'international' event. We are showing summer less than two months after the winter shows in the northern hemisphere finished, and four-five months before the summer shows there. It's no-man's-land as far as the international buying seasons go.

Here's an idea for a PhD project for someone: list all the labels that have shown in the New Generation shows of MAFW/RAFW since 1996 and uncover the stories for each. There are the famous success stories like Akira, of course, but I'd love to know what happened to some of the others. And not with an agenda; I'd be interested in the opportunities that taking part led to for some, even if it eventually meant giving up the label. And it's a piece of undocumented Australian fashion history.

Anyway, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

Cultures in Between said...

I believe there is great beauty in Australia's fashion and culture but it is like our society is so overwhelmed by perhaps American pop culture which saturates the way we can originally think. In some ways, I feel great young designers who have only recently just finish school are then dissolved unintentionally without them knowing into the backdrop of the fashion commercialism of Australia. The overall picture I feel is that it is growing out of the 1990's culture of Australian Fashion where most if not all clothes manufactured within that time period was quite frivolous, without direction or purpose.

In a way its frustrating to see some young designers who can achieve great long terms success in a way don't have many mentors or people who have fashion maturity that they can turn towards. Something I read from Henrik Vibskov after his show this year was he mentioned the fashion industry is one incredibly short-lived, which is something I pointed out on my own blog.

I think a lot of international brand companies have championed their longevity because they have not desired advertising or a quick media spotlight to gain more sales or media success. But then again, do you think the surroundings particular in Sydney actually create an external force whereby local designers here feel they need to do this to seek more wealth? I also understand that a lot of the young labels need financial stability but it can't jeopardise why they wanted to become a fashion designer in the first place...?

To take a morbid perspective, our 'fashion culture' is detrimental in some ways to growing designers who want to stay original not lose their focus. Isn't that why the number of young local hopefuls seek much better opportunities not just as a fashion designer but being a part of a label or related studio, in most particular those moving to England?

It's the other side of the country and I can feel Perth would neglect or have the limited resources to fulfil such talent in that of Richard Nicoll. And now, since finishing at Central Saint Martins, he has had so much great, great success with his graduate womenswear and now we may see himself as one whose at the top of his game (i.e. the 'upper echelons' of fashion). There are many others like Martin Grant now living and working in Paris and the setup of Antipodium. I'm sure there are many other Aussies working in some related way or another and even if it isn't the top position, it's highly likely they are enjoying more than being working in Australia.

It's something I can't work out or try and challenge being an organisation such as RAFW having huge corporate and media power. Since seeing the past seasonal collections from Stockholm Fashion Week, Copenhagen Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, it just seems everyone is serious but not 'anal' and its focused on the hard yards by these designers. There is nothing to do with celebrities other than the models of such likes as Sasha and Irina.

Maybe we can learn alot of our New Zealand designers of say Karen Walker and houses of Zambesi and Nom*D?

I guess the more successful Australian designers are more intelligent and doing things behind the scenes. Trouble thing is, all the mucky issues is always sort of centered around Sydney unlike Melbourne.

On a personal note, Timo have a look at two really good Melbourne designers of Stephanie Downey and Jade Sarita Arnott who I have both written about.

Timo Rissanen said...

Ah, it's you! Can't remember if I left a comment on your blog when I found it but was very impressed!

Some continuing excellent thoughts here. Aussies are indeed making an impact internationally, and also behind the scenes. I know of people who've worked for Jean Paul Gaultier (Gaultier Paris, the haute couture atelier, actually), Abercrombie & Fitch (several UTS graduates there at the moment), ThreeAsFour, Roberto Cavalli, Diesel, Alexander McQueen (Tina Kalivas is only one of many), etc. And Aussies have won Mittelmoda twice in the past six years, including Rachael Cassar last year (see my links). The talent is definitely there, but the collective confidence isn't, I feel. There's something perverse about so many companies here following trends from the northern hemisphere, and not just the most recent shows in Feb/Mar, but the summer shows last Sept/Oct. Strange.

Good point about NZ. Part of me still wonders about the time some four years ago when I was asked to apply for a job at Karen Walker... I'm happy to have stuck with the PhD, but a big part of me wants to get back into industry and make another go of it. I think the eternal worry about what's cool (very much a Sydney rather than a Melbourne thing) needs to go, but not sure it will.

Thanks for the tips on those designers, will check them out now.