That I'm sending mini-guides to the other "international" bloggers (Rumi, Bryan, Tommy, Phil, Nam, Candice, Natalie, Elin…first names only, duh) of Aussie designer recommendations is slightly laughable. It is true that Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia makes it my third time out here so I feel like I have a handle on the lay of the land. Still, things can still be shaken up and changes are seemingly ahoy at the newly sponsored, newly branded MBFWA. The main gist of it? The schedule is somewhat leaner, what with names like Josh Goot and Dion Lee pulling out at the last minute, both astute decisions in my eyes. This therefore places a bigger onus on "big" names to perform and to show with a bang.
That's a tall order for Romance was Born, who actually showed off-schedule last year, but was given the honour of opening MBFWA this week. There was certainly bang when the centrepiece set unfolded into a pop-up book scene of comic book graphic iconography by Benja Harney. Marvel was the surprising helping hand here as the duo Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales were able to bring their fascination with the print process of comic book as well as their own superhero loves (Anna loves Thor and Luke's into The Hulk) to life with licensed and proper usage of Marvel imagery. Plenty of designers have been inspired by this American institution and of course the idea of superheroism in fashion is nothing new but to my mind, I can't remember a time when it was actually officially sanctioned by Marvel.
That said, it wasn't a case of straightforward replicating and rehashing old comic book strips on to fabric, as RWB magnified and zoomed into the dots that make up the CMYK print make-up of a comic book strip and paired them up with Marvel characters where they saw fit. The show played out into mini colour stories beginning with monochrome, developing intovivid red and yellow and rainbow stripes and ending with metallic razzle dazzle. RWB's pre-occupation with print really comes into its own in the simpler looks when say an outline of torso is printed onto a crisp white shirt dress or sunray stripes are cut into bi-directional sections on a body conscious dress. On top of print, they uplifted their striking graphics with embellishment such as black and white pearlised pailettes, tinsel-like beading and rectangular gemstones.
I sense there's a precarious balance that RWB have to strike everytime they do a show – something between showing a full-on, extravagant and dramatic collection and then doing something that can actually translate into commercial saleability. This show wasn't by any means the biggest spectacle that RWB have done in their long history of showstopping performances, but for me seems on track and in line with what the label has become. Take away the badass arm gauntlets and the Annie Lennox-inspired red hair and these ensembles can easily go from page to pavement.