Now in its sixth year, Canberra’s annual fashion event FASHFEST has switched it up to bring something new and exciting. The event began in a warehouse at the airport before moving to the National Convention Centre, which has been its home for the last three years. Just like in previous iterations, the event aims to celebrate more than just fashion. As well as the work of three designers, in 2019 FASHFEST will highlight and showcase the architectural gems that the nation’s capital proudly possesses.
The first in a planned series of three events was held at the National Gallery of Australia. The building, a striking piece of architecture and art itself, is one of Canberra’s most loved. Being both an architecture lover and a fashion lover, this promised to be an absolute delight of an evening. And it did not disappoint.
The media wall was the same set up as we have seen before. It could have been more exciting to also have a few photographers make use of the extended evening light that the summer is bringing us, and shoot the street styles just outside in the open, as guests arrived.
The audience were aptly dressed to the nines given that the theme for the runway was eveningwear and elegant dressing. It was exciting to see how guests had styled their beautiful outfits and made them their own. Click here for all the details of what I wore.
The buzz was real and the event, being held on a Friday night, was popular. There was wonderful live music playing in the area where guests enjoyed their drinks before the show. Exchanging hugs and kisses with Canberra’s fashion elite, drink in hand, vibing to the live music, the crowd slowly moved to the runway area.
The seated area was sold out and the gallery could be seen brimming with audience. The music and the ambiance was a heady mixture of all things fashion, art and culture. The energy in the room was palpable; attendees were visibly hyped by the change in style of how the event was held.
The change in venue made the actual runway feel small compared to the famously long runway at the National Convention Centre. This reduction in size, however, made it feel more intimate and exclusive. Limited seating close to the runway and ample standing room at the gallery made for unique arrangements. The different perspective that the gallery view provided gave a new and fun angle to the wearable art showcased on the runway. The use of escalators to enter and exit the runway was a brilliant touch and every bit as grand to watch as the runway strutting.
The evening showcased three Australian designers who have all presented a collection at FASHFEST previously: Megan Cannings, Charly Thorn and Hajargala Couture.
Straight from her New York Fashion week debut this year, Megan’s collection was a visual treat of ruffles and sheer lace gowns. The colors were soothing and the patterns were feminine and dreamy. The absolute wow piece was the final white gown with impressive ruffles, reminiscent of Carrie’s Versace gown from Sex and the City.
Real life Wearability Quotient: High
Most pieces can be worn straight off the runway with little to no customisation. They would make an entrance at any event one chooses to display these at. For those who need or like the support of a bra you might have a little difficult with some of the looks.
A crowd favorite, Charly presented yet another collection of vivid colors and flattering silhouettes, mixed with fun patterns and different styles of outfits. The young and talented designer first presented at FASHFEST in 2017 and has since showcased a collection internationally. Her collection this year did not fail to wow the audience. The style was sleek, polished and classy with a cool mix of dresses and pant styles.
Real life Wearability Quotient: Very High.
All the pieces can be worn off the runway with little to no customization. Separates in this collection are a clear winner offering more bang for buck, with many pieces compatible with existing items in our wardrobe. All the pieces can be dressed up or down easily.
Hajar Gala Couture
The collection of bridal and evening gowns was elegance crafted in fabric. Some of these designs have been shown at Paris Fashion Week. Parisian inspiration was evident in the detailed work on each of the gowns. The gowns featured soft colors and feminine styles that promise to make you feel like a queen.
Real life Wearability Quotient: High
Elegant and complimentary designs with intricate work, are sure to make you stand out on your special day. The styles are easy to carry and look comfortable. With a few accessories or alterations, many of these designs could also be used after the special day.
Makeup was fresh and soft. The blush, glow and pink lips went beautifully with all the outfits by the designers for the evening. Hair was pulled back in a chignon with a fancy twist. We love the elegance that the whole look adds to any formal events while still being playful. Congratulations to Katie Saarikko and Craig Rhodes who headed up the makeup and hair teams.
The show was a success and held true to its selling point of switching it up. The audience could be seen to be enjoying themselves and the added after-hours access to the American Masters exhibit at the Gallery was a nice touch.
In terms of model casting it was disappointing to see less diversity on the runway than we have been accustomed to in previous years. Due to the change in scale of the event there was no open casting. Instead FASHFEST decided to use only agency models. We would have loved to see a range of women of different ages, heights and sizes to help us visualize the designs on ourselves.
While it is a fashion industry norm to use models who are young, thin and tall, we were pleased to see that FASHFEST started a trend for using a diverse cast.
The change in location of the show was a success and the designs presented on the runway were wearable for the most part but it was Charly Thorn’s collection that included the most versatile pieces, which could be dressed both up and down. While many of the designs presented by Megan Cannings and Hajar Gala are guaranteed to make an impression and be unforgettable if you were to show up to an event wearing these.
In scaling down and changing venues FASHFEST has made a return to form. We look forward to seeing how the remaining two shows in the series turn out.
Words: Rasi Gupta / Instagram @la_vie_en_lens
Photography: Jesse Petrie