Such is the reputation of young Canberran design talent, the annual CIT graduate fashion parade has become the biggest event on the capital’s fashion calendar. Marking the end of 2011’s ‘Momentum’ showcase of graduating creative design students’ work, the re[align] parade, as it has been dubbed this year, saw retailers, buyers and the great, fashion-loving unwashed turn out to support the efforts of 12 graduating fashion design students: Tahnee Crockford, Zoe Brown, Caitleen Moloney, Kerry Percival, Alice Sutton, Pamela Macri, Stephanie Cooper, Michelle Connelly, Elizabeth Knight, Amy Taylor, Hannah Knight, and Shauna Hagan.
After a glamorous dash of champagne and a rather awkward shuffle towards seats, we had just enough time to take in the impressive surrounds of Kingston’s Old Bus Depot before the night’s events got underway.
Opening remarks touched on advancements in fashion technology, the importance of sustainability, and, most interestingly, the exciting place Australia holds in the fashion world as a young country unburdened by a weighty legacy. It is this fresh take on design that makes the CIT parade so intriguing, as each graduate presents a unique perspective of fashion and style.
This year, designers took inspiration from the industrial nature of the Old Bus Depot, as evidenced in the use of unusual materials, utilitarian features and harsh, angular lines in many of the pieces.
Those looking for trends would have found them in the splashes of orange and jewel-tones that lit up the stage, the focus on sustainability saw recycled plastics and neoprene feature in many designs, and an understandable desire to display technique was presumably behind the intricate layering, ruching and draping of fabrics. The many backless pieces, particularly, drew sighs over their loveliness and stress over what bras to wear with them.
Ultimately it was those who created their own universes who were the most memorable. Tahnee Crockford’s ‘Devaki Black’ had the most defined aesthetic. Bringing together elements of Japan’s Gothic Lolita subculture, steampunk and a theatrical sensibility all executed beautifully and demonstrating her obvious technical skill.
Zoe Brown’s ‘zoe.’ label again used elements of costume, with laser-cut latex in vibrant boy-girl shades of blue and pink that created an almost kitsch, cartoon-like feel offset by a harder edge lent by tattoo design – a result of her collaboration with tattoo artist Rose Hardy.
A personal favourite was Stephanie Cooper’s ‘Aperiodic’. Quieter than many of the other designs, Stephanie’s work was at once wearable and show-stopping. Inspired by developing an emotional connection between wearer and garment, the Aperiodic silhouettes transformed and enhanced the body, flashes of orange and modernist shapes created starkly beautiful pieces.
Three years of intensive study culminating in one, 2-hour parade must have felt almost anti-climactic for the young designers, but with the talent displayed on Thursday night it will surely serve as the launching pad for something great.