LMFF Offsite Runways 1 and 2

L'OREAL MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL: Billed as a ‘new and exciting home to independently spirited fashion labels’ the LMFF OPffsite Runways promised to be ‘mega'.
LMFF Offsite Runways 1 and 2
The L’Oreal Offsite Runways 1 and 2 at Penthouse Mouse, Shed 4 were the last events of this year’s L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week. Billed as a ‘new and exciting home to independently spirited fashion labels’ they promised to be ‘mega'. They were called ‘Offsite’ because the location, Shed 4 Docklands, is a long way from Armadale, Chadstone, Fed Square or even Peninsula on Central Pier where many of the other runways were held. In fact, Shed 4 is more like a hanger, sitting on a tarmac of concrete almost at the tip of the old wharf that juts off the end of Bourke Street. Approaching it in the dark feels more like a wrong turn into a building site than the way to a fancy do for the fashionista. Inside, when the heavy black veil was finally slightly parted, the crowd flowed from the ‘bar-space’ through to the cavernous performance space. The concrete floor was scattered with a silicon-like substance that resembled snow. The models ‘walked’ at ground level toward the mob of cameras at the far end down the middle of a large figure 8-shaped space past large cardboard ‘shapes’. Around the edge the audience sat on upside down plastic tubs. All very wonderland-industrial. As almost all the designers were relatively new Melbourne based it was interesting that the slightly more established Perth designers one fell swoop opened Runway Show 1. They collection was very feminine and romantic, with lots of soft flowing fabrics beautifully draped (if a bit breezy) and translucent layers. Jolet’s gathered tailoring and exposing gapes followed; the retro look inexplicably topped at times with Bolero hats. A striking print of leafless trees, mountains and water was used to particular effect on silk shirts and a long pleated skirt and its palette of smoky blues and whites was continued through the collection. Eye catching, if a bit optically challenging, were the dramatic geometric stripes of Alexi Freeman. Along with the strobing black & whites were bright blue pieces and a startlingly sparkly jacket. Leonard Street went for bold colours, oranges, mauves and pinks with contrasting accessories. Livia Arena was most notable for the slashed pants and tailored jackets with a really 80s retro feel to the materials and shapes. Metias finished up the show with a disjoined (if wearable) combination of on-safari looks, blue swirly prints, chic tailored jackets and shirts and skinny leg pants. In the second show, a bit over an hour later were Trimapee, extinct, above, house of baulch and Kuwaii. Trimapee brought in the first men’s outfits of the night. Their collection seemed a bit S&M goth meets Thunderdome, lots of knit and black leather combos and accessories. Cheers rose up as above’s logo came up on the screen, friends in the crowd. LMFF_offsite_above Their lace-like dress with its intricate cut out design is actually created with a unique ‘burn-out’ technique. The fabric is screen-printed with a paste that literally eats away the material. They also used the technique on a range of cuffs, bibs and collars. Jumpsuits, that’s all I’m going to say, jumpsuits. Extinct brought out more jumpsuits, in cord, and men’s outfits which I put into two styles: the ‘I might be a flasher so whatcha’ raincoat look and the ‘I’ll ‘av’ ya’’ slouching football fan look. House of baulch showed off their accessories by putting the models in what looked like speed-skating suits, not a forgiving garment. There were lots and lots of draping babbles and chains in varying weights from fine to heavy dog-lead-like links. Kuwaii featured their seemingly French flag inspired colour palette, particularly in a silk check, across their classically elegant skirts and tops, pretty folding shift dresses and swirling capes. LWFF_kuwii_inround At the end there was a roar from the LMFF staff as they jumped up and cheered, their exhausting week long festival finally over. The shows seemed to be over in the blink of an eye with a lot of waiting around in between. While there were moments of interest and distraction, I came away feeling it was a deeply unsatisfying experience. I’d always thought fashion parades were terribly glamorous but it felt far more like a corporate convention. Even the audio-visuals were pretty naff, particularly before the Trimapee showing. Undoubtedly the prime reason for going to a fashion show is to see fashions, and there were plenty of those in the offing, but it felt like there was something missing. Given the shape of the runway and the distances to be covered, the models had to keep up a cracking pace, so each outfit was only seen for a few seconds from each angle. The poor models rarely enhanced the designs either, their make up was ugly and they moved more like Cybermen in their heels than attractive young women; there was certainly no cat in their walks, or emotion. Women to clothes as a wall is to a painting. I kept wishing someone would just bring in some circus people or dancers to model a few outfits, liven things up, try and make it entertaining, breath taking, or at least create some connection for the audience. But no, it wasn’t that sort of show. See the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week Gallery for images and designer profiles at www.lmff.com.au.

Fiona Mackrell

Monday 21 March, 2011

About the author

Fiona Mackrell is a Melbourne based freelancer. You can follow her at @McFifi or check out www.fionamackrell.com