Before Aussie designer newcomer Emma Mulholland's much-anticipated first on-schedule solo show at MBFWA, people were already sending out the rumour feelers. The title Spring Break was one clue, neatly coinciding with Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers release. Lots of flesh and bikinis? Drug fuelled bender colours? Neon hues from the girls in the film's beach ragers? Turns out the title of Mulholland's collection was only a happy coincidence with Korine's latest film. It's also less sinister than the shenanigans that the title suggests. Certainly, my very English notion of spring break only came from watching American teen films and TV where jocks, babes, bikinis and underage drinking, all come together in one hot messy melange in places like Cancun. Mulholland though was thinking about dudes who head for the snowy slopes for a spot of skiing and snowboarding. Or they might head out to the coast and hit the waves. Ski n' surf. Mulholland's love of riffing off of an active theme is now fairly established as she veers from the hardy courts of basketball to outerspace and not back down to earth, to something closer to her hometown of Newcastle where she grew up surfing.
This collection almost revisits some of her earlier collections where she dived under the sea and went tropical, but she makes enough differentiation by applying a nostalgia-filled filter so that children of the eighties/early nineties, who watched Art Attack!, Clarissa Explains it All and wrote all of their wishes and dreams in Fun Faxes will look at all of this with fond memories. Those who are younger will still get onboard, judging by the cheers and whoops from a lot of the enthusiastic fashion student-filled (?) audience at the show. Mulholland has unofficially become a beacon of creativity for young Australian fashion enthusiasts and beyond that, she's creating clothes that identifies with a broader street and lifestyle culture that sun-drenched Sydney can wear. These clothes could have walked on out of the show on to Campbell's Parade in Bondi the next day and seamlessly blended in with the local girls and guys' penchant for ironic t-shirts, vintage denim rompers and statement board shorts.
Not that I'd overtstate the "youf" thing. Mulholland's clothes do skew young but a nearly-30 blogger such as myself is more than happy to get down with pretty much all of this, particularly the hero pieces such as the bomber jackets, where polar bears meet waves meet whales meet penguins or the final Orca whale white sheer dress with one singular graphic sequinned motif. Anything that reminds me of British TV's Test Card F is also bound to get me excited so the main dominating print, constructed out of numerous surf board and ski graphics laid over a grid pattern, will no doubt resonate with many others. Mulholland also isn't short on accessories either with printed sandals, backpacks and a stellar jewellery collaboration with Ryan Storer, who applied his ear-cuff magic to thin and curved spiked pieces alongside iridescent Swarovski crystals – definitely a show accessory highlight of the week. The theme may have been tried and tested but the overall outcome was definitely refreshing.