Inspiring, insightful and decidedly contemporary, the 2019 Sherman Centre of Culture and Ideas’ (SCCI) Fashion Hub contained dynamic, relevant discourse that delved into this modern epoch of fashion, art and culture. With this year’s inaugural event marking the start of a five year lifespan for the annual Fashion Hub, the 10 day event was overseen by Dr Gene Sherman and her talented creative team.
Highlights of the week included the opening event held on Friday, April 5, which involved the keynote address by Angelica Cheung, editor-in-chief of Vogue China. Sharp and engaging, Cheung took a humorous tone in addressing the audience. “In fashion” laughed Cheung, “I quickly learned that whatever your budget, you must order champagne.”
Cheung’s discussion introduced topics and themes that would be revisited throughout the week at various events, and her witty, self-aware and frank address set the tone for the fortnight’s events. Having trained as a lawyer and worked professionally as an investment banker, Cheung’s diverse background provided her with unique perspectives on fashion as an art and as a business.
On Saturday April 6, Cheung joined the editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia, Edwina McCann, for the Fashion Words event, in an interactive panel discussion that explored ideas such as sustainability, the millennial generation and the pervasive, ever-changing interplay between fashion and the media, particularly in the age of digital influencers.
The dialogue between Cheung and McCann was fascinating to observe not only for their insights on fashion but on culture and society more broadly, and served to highlight the similarities and differences between how these two powerhouses create and execute their vision. It also provided an in-depth picture as to how Vogue, as a global conglomerate and aspirational beacon of artistry, continues to achieve their goal of the “best and most creative content.” In the words of McCann, “Fashion has always been about the new. Vogue is always on the frontline of change and continues to be relevant.”
As the day progressed, voices from younger publications and institutions added more layers and nuance to the intellectual conversation. Ollie Henderson, model and founder of House of Riot, highlighted how fashion can play a pivotal role in protest and social change, while Clare Press, Vogue Australia Sustainability editor, elaborated on the importance of environmentally-conscientious fashion.
Throughout the week, hot topics of conversation also included the increasing fusion between East and West fashion, and fashion’s place in socially responsible behaviour. Across Akira Isogawa’s keynote on Japanese Fashion and Bandana Tewari’s address on Politics and Fashion, there were plenty of diverse perspectives to be inspired by. Thought-leading game-changers such as Isogawa, who has spoken in the past on the intersection between Japanese and Western fashion, highlighted that fashion is not mere frivolity, but can make a tangible impact on politics at a global scale.
On Wednesday, April 10, William Ewing gave a detailed talk on the long-standing, historical relationship between photography and fashion, and used a metaphor to describe their ‘passionate affair’; if photography was the artist, then fashion is his eternal muse and model.
Ample discussions among the audience and speakers continued once the audience had spilled out of either the Sherman Centre’s artful space in Paddington after one of the more intimate events, or in the forecourt of the Museum of Sydney in Circular Quay where larger events were held.
Overall, the Fashion Hub proved to be a synergistic force that united creatives, artists, writers and members of the public. It was a celebration of the intrinsic artistic beauty in fashion, and of how fashion is explicitly and implicitly ubiquitous in society, politics and daily life. It will be exciting to observe how the SCCI Fashion Hub will continue to transcend and mix boundaries in the next four years; the Hub has truly established itself as one-of-a-kind Sydney symposium of everything fashion and beyond.