In the middling hours of the afternoon at the first full day of Fashion Week, crowds seemed to be getting tired and slowing down, no matter how many free coffees they imbibed - but the TAFE FDS Innovators runway was like a fresh boost of energy and excitement, leaving guests buzzing excitedly at the diverse new designs on display.
Set in Carriageworks’ Gallery One, The Innovators utilised a super stripped-back set to keep the focus on the most important element: the runway. On the back wall, large block letters spelled out the names of each of the six designers on display from TAFE’s Fashion Design School, with spotlights highlighting each name during their sequential presentations.
Mia Kate Rodriguez’s Mi’an’Mar graduate collection opened the show with a burst of colour and murmurs of approval and satisfaction humming throughout the gallery. Described as an ode to the designers’ “ever effervescent and stylish Grandma”, the streetwear collection combined illustrative prints, hand-created embellishments and luscious jewel tones - especially rich greens contrasted with bright reds. Mi’an’Mar successfully combined flowing and fitted silhouettes with clever layering and intricate details, creating a lavish, fun runway that was the perfect opener.
An immediate change of pace came in the form of Kate Ineson’s eponymously named label. Touting itself as a “vanguard in the action against fast fashion”, the experimental and certainly innovative collection featured many remixed silhouettes in muted, elegant colours. Playing often with the deconstruction - and sometimes unconventional reconstruction - of garments, Ineson ultimately created a chic and avant-garde label, a la Maison Margiela and Valentino.
Jinna Nam created another change of pace with her label, Jinay, going back to big, bright, and bold statement outfits. An eclectic collection which pays tribute to the designer’s sentimentality for clothes with heart and narratives, alongside her love for collaging different vintage eras, Jinay was a burst of vibrant personality. Featuring big shoulders, puffy sleeves, ruffled skirts, and a pair of canary-yellow thigh-high boots to die for; Jinay was playful and energetic.
Up next was Sarah Moore with her label Manon, a super-sleek contemporary brand of elegant androgynous garments for men and women. Opening with a Matrix-vibes ankle-duster trench coat, the tone was set immediately, and followed through with the remainder of the collection. Unfettered by loud, clashing colours or prints, Manon presented a beautifully fresh approach to contemporary design.
Another change of pace came in the form of Valeska Dominguez, with her self-titled label Valeska. Focusing on Australian merino wool, and aiming to show its versatility and aptness for luxury design, Valeska’s trans-seasonal collection featured flowing silhouettes in unique lilac and mint tones. Where she really shone, however, was in her final few ensembles which were edgier and moving away from a static palette, and included a semi-transparent pleated blush gown and a bold caged black skirt with a bold matching hat.
Closing the show was the George Habibeh couture Azrael collection, which featured intense ruffles, beautiful detailed beading and gorgeous sheer panels. Habibeh’s collection featured incredibly unique, impressive gowns and ensembles in statement blacks, reds, and whites. The exquisite detail on display was best expressed through the complex, more experimental garments, whereas some of the safer pieces were lost amongst the glitz and glamour of dazzling beaded coats and skirts. The uniquely edgy and beautiful Azrael collection was a fittingly original end to the Innovators show, leaving audiences abuzz with conversation and excitement as they streamed back out the doors and onto the next show.