Fashfest – Saturday Show Five ‘Spectra’



‘Band of colour, a visual display. Explore where you sit on the fashion spectrum. This is the show for people looking to make a statement and express themselves in true colour.’

– Fashfest show notes


Perhaps the strongest show of the festival in terms of the cohesion of the designers showing, ‘Spectra’ featured ethical and sustainable fashion from almost exclusively Canberra based labels.


Karen Lee


A Fashfest veteran (the label has now appeared at Fashfest four times), Canberra designer Karen Lee specialises in creating timeless, quality pieces to be treasured and valued. Her new collection featured simple, flattering pieces with architectural elements made up in a palate of black, white, and grey. The only print to feature was a grey and black check, breaking up several of the predominantly monochrome looks. Tucks, dramatic cowls, large pockets, and relaxed cuts made this a wearable yet far from bland collection.





The collection, designed by Canberra designer Alice Sutton in her Canberra studio, featured wearable jersey pieces. Silhouettes were relaxed and flattering to the female form; dresses hugged the torso but skimmed the hips, cardigans had relaxed sleeves and folds of fabric that cascaded over the chest. Pieces were shown in more than one colourway and on different sized models, hinting at the versatility and broad appeal of these classic designs.



Fashionation Cooma


Having covered Fashionation in Cooma, we were pleased to see three of the designers show at Fashfest. Elle Hopwood, a designer who specializes in day and formal wear, presented a selection of evening looks, including a sensual white gown, an elegant wide leg pant, and shell top set. Charly Thorn, who also presented a collection at last night’s Limina show, shared two looks inspired by the landscape of the Monaro. Rasa Mauragis, a designer based in Jindabyne, explores botanical dyes in creating her striking silk, wool, and bamboo pieces.

To see more from each of these designers please read our Fashionation Runway Report.



Assemblage Project


The Assemblage Project, a Canberra boutique specialising in labels that are skillfully made with an emphasis on sustainability, presented a selection of labels including Eva Cassis, Kowtow, High Tea with Mrs Woo, and Wendy Voon. Despite being made up of multiple designers, the presentation was cohesive; each designer appeared to embrace a similar aesthetic, making it simple for the audience to imagine mixing and matching pieces from the store. Pieces were wearable, flattering and timeless, often playing with proportion or incorporating thoughtful details such as large pockets or reversible fabrication.



Pure Pod


Pure Pod is a label built on sustainable, ethical practice (you can read our interview on why this is important to the label here), created by designer Kelli Donovan and photographer Sean Watson. The pervasive stigma in certain circles that ethical fashion can’t be fashionable was proven wrong within this collection. Simpler pieces such as fit and flare dresses, leggings, and skirts were paired with dresses and tops made pebbles of felt connected by spider webs of cotton, empire line coats with felt detail cascading over the shoulders or tailored, cropped jackets. Pure Pod worked in collaboration with Ecobling, makers of plant friendly accessories, and Field & Coppice who created stunning, sculptural “backpacks” and headpieces from plants.



Cadia Belante


In creating her eyecatching streetwear, Melbourne based designer Cadia Belante reclaims and repurposes discarded items. The mood of this collection was decidedly urban, with pants, shorts, jackets, and vests all made up of discarded sleeping bags. The bright quilted pieces called out to be touched and hugged and were particularly appealing when worn in matching sets. The vivid prints and colours added a fun, nostalgic quality to this highly wearable collection.

Read our interview with Cadia Belante here.






In its third Fashfest presentation, Melbourne based label SZN presented simple, intelligent designs in a neutral colour palate. All in one suits, loose tunics and draped coats were presented in multiple colourways and on both male and female models, demonstrating the genderless nature of these pieces. While looking simple at first glance, clever details such as large pockets, the folding and draping of fabrics, and play with proportion proved each piece to be anything but.




Words: Emma Batchelor

Photos: Jesse Petrie

Illustrations: Sketch during the show by Judy Kuo

Team Leiden

Sometimes it takes more than one Contributor to make magic.


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