I did tactfully hint that this year's MBFWA in Sydney was more eventful off-site than it was on-site, with the real action taking place in showrooms and at off-site shows. Ok, that wasn't so tactful. But dems the rules of any centralised and systematic fashion week venue, where ambiance and atmosphere are often sacrified in favour of sponsor messages and heavy branding. I'm therefore glad I made it out to Emma Mulholland's off-schedule event at The Grand Social where she presented her "As Bad As I Guana Be" S/S 12-3 collection, where flaming tequila drinks were the order of the night, alongside a screening of the film that accompanies this collection, directed by Alex Goddard. That's the sort of wordplay that would endear me to any collection, let alone one that makes Mulholland stand out in the Sydney fashion scene as someone, who has a knack for synthesising streetwear, heightened consideration for fabric and textures and an unlikely cocktail of references together into something she can call her own.
Mulholland first caught my eye with her take on all things hot n' tropical and rainbow sea-dregged long before before S/S 12's onslaught of sea creature and mermaid themed collections, a theme she had explored in her graduation collection too. I know people like to talk about colours "popping" at you (what does that actually mean) but in all honesty, Mulholland's colour combos and her eye for detailing really do come alive before your very eyes. In one way, like so many Australian designers, she is fully attuned with with that extraordinary light that Sydney gets, making the sea look bluer and lush plants look greener. Mulholland takes that bit of sensitivity though and ramps it up by tenfold and for this collection, she goes looking in the desert for cacti and iguanas and drops them into a basketball court, complete with cropped tees, caps and varsity satin jackets. Mulholland has tweaked her collection so that it covers all wardrobe bases – leathers, knitwear, a ton of separates and accessories – a natural progression from her last shark-infested "Tropical Rebel" collection that is currently on The Grand Social. It's this wearability coupled with solid development of brain-searingly memorable motifs that means Mulholland is more than equipped to battle any homogenisation going on in her hometown, to ride her own wave. Judging by the rapturous Facebook love, I'm definitely not the only one who would want some iguanas on their back come summertime.