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Australia tempts overseas buyers

A line-up of more than 100 designers lured the biggest ever contingent of overseas buyers to Australian Fashion Week.

Buyers from 15 countries visited the event in Sydney, including representatives from department stores and retailers including Harrods, Selfridges and Net-a-porter.com.

The number of buyers from China was particularly high, demonstrating the country’s growing appetite for directional fashion.
Visitors were treated to five days of spring 08 catwalk shows from a bevy of Australian and New Zealand designers, in what was one of the most comprehensive schedules in recent years.

The week’s highlights were led by designer Michelle Jank, who returned to the Australian catwalk after seven years with a theatrical show. An ethereal mix of black and white Grecian dresses and elaborate statement jewellery informed the collection, which rubber-stamped Jank’s design reputation as an all-rounder in terms of product.

Among the other designers, Alex Perry’s sexy, feminine handwriting translated into show-stopping, floor-sweeping gowns in delicate silk chiffons and safari prints.

Established Australian labels Sass & Bide, Lisa Ho, Wayne Cooper, Nicola Finetti and Zimmermann presented a mix of looks with both flair and a strong commercial edge.

Sass & Bide revealed Sass & Bide Vie, a youthful diffusion line with an urban edge. Lisa Ho covered the spectrum from sophisticated daywear to elegant red carpet styles, which featured her signature prints.

Australian Fashion Week is renowned for its support of fledging designers. Among this year’s emerging talents were Ginger & Smart, Life with Bird and Thurley.

All of these labels revealed a growing maturity in their collections, although there were some misses among the hits. Ginger & Smart offered easy-to-wear looks, but an uncharacteristically dark palette and a more grown-up handwriting. Life with Bird presented a fresh, sport luxe collection, but overused a dark, floral print.

New Zealand was best represented by Eastern Pearson’s fun range of bohemian-inspired embellished looks, while Kate Sylvester caused a stir with styles embellished with replicas of war medals.

Elsewhere, 25 up-and-coming designers including Melbourne accessories label Love by Geneine Honey showed their ranges Emerge @ The Source, based on Sydney’s harbourside.

See next week’s issue of Drapers for a full report on Australian Fashion Week.

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