Fashion x Hyatt



I have never quite understood very expensive meals until recently. Late last year I read an essay on fine dining which explored the ethics around the world’s top restaurants commanding $300 upwards for a single meal. My first thought was, ‘why would someone pay that much for dinner?’ I confess I am no foodie, I have always invested my money in shoes and clothes, tangible things that I can hold on to and keep, rather than finite edible delights. I could, and regularly do, spend $300 on a fashion item at the drop of a hat, but a dinner? No thank you.

After having experienced a number of incredible meals however, my perception about fine dining and its worth began to change. I came to realise that the way some food is created — say an incredible pastry that takes three days to assemble — is no different to the way a beautiful garment is put together: both are made by artisans who have worked for many years to perfect their art. When you start to appreciate food as more of an art form, with all the complexity and beauty of a hand assembled couture gown, you can begin to appreciate, just like the difference between fast and slow fashion, why some meals are more worthy of their price tag than others.

It was this newly found appreciation of the world of fine dining, now combined with my unceasing reverence for fashion, that I found myself attending an event at Canberra’s premier hotel, the Hyatt Hotel, which brought together food and fashion. The Hyatt is renowned for its sumptuous high tea, its heritage buildings, and incomparable service, but is now keen to carve out a niche for itself working with local creatives. Marketing and communications manager for the Hyatt, Avon Dissanayake, told us of his commitment to work with creatives to showcase Canberra’s creations to a global audience, hence its collaboration with Fashfest.

Four local designers, Karen Lee, Zilpah Tart, Braddon Tailors, and Sovata showcased a selection of pieces from their recent collections presented at Fashfest, Canberra’s own fashion festival. Models from Canberra agency, Haus Models, wove their way through guests enjoying high tea to a soundtrack by local musician, Magnifik featuring NeonHoney, before coming to pose in front of a large golden banner advertising the upcoming Versaille: Treasures from the Palace exhibition coming to the National Gallery of Australia in December. The founders of Fashfest, Clint and Andrea Hutchinson, were in attendance to support these local creatives.


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Alongside local talent from the fashion industry, Avon showcased talent from within the Hyatt itself, treating us to the most incredible array of pastries and desserts I have ever seen. Nitin Kumar, the Director of Culinary at the Hyatt, described each edible work of art in turn but I was so entranced with what I saw, that his words just washed over me without sinking in. I set about sampling each and every magical morsel, some so beautiful it seemed a shame to disfigure them by taking a bite. The complexity of flavour, use of texture and colour was as striking as any of the creations we had just seen on the pop-up runway.


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As well as offering support for this fashionable collaboration with the Hyatt, Clint Hutchinson also had suite of game changing news to impart. After 15 years of working at ZOO Group, Clint explained that he has decided to leave his position as Managing Director to, together with his wife Andrea, focus his full attention on Fashfest, Haus Models, and the couple’s new children’s clothing label, Nomi. Clint and Andrea have plans to expand Haus to become a talent agency that will not only represent models as it doesn’t now, but also other creatives including musicians, makeup artists, and photographers. In addition to this ambitious workload, Clint will become a partner in Braddon Tailors.



Clint Hutchinson


The couple hope to build what they have termed a ‘creative incubator’ to nurture and support local creatives. ‘We need to think nationally and internationally because the talent in Canberra is astounding,’ explained Clint. ‘It’s a very exciting time for Canberra, not just in terms of fashion, but particularly for all creatives.’ As this sentiment was echoed earlier by Avon in his declaration of the Hyatt’s wish to support local creatives, it seems that the Hutchinson’s and the Hyatt are a match well made.



From Left: Avon Dissanayake, Clint Hutchinson, Fredrick Arul and Andrea Hutchinson. Image: Leighton Hutchinson Photography.


Having come to this event with more knowledge of fashion than food, I expected to come away with my mind swimming with images of the beautiful creations I had seen on the runway. Instead I found memories of the jaw-dropping pastries we had eaten equally as vivid in my thoughts. Perhaps I am a foodie after all.


Read more about each of the designers who presented pieces in our Fashfest Runway Reports

Karen Lee

Zilpah Tart

Braddon Tailors



Book High Tea at the Hyatt

Emma Batchelor

Emma Batchelor

As well as a near obsessive interest in fashion, Emma is a former scientist, occasional contemporary dancer, avid reader and self-confessed cat lady (she has three). Emma lived in Leiden in the Netherlands as a baby and Leiden ought to have been her middle name had her mother thought of it at the time and not chosen Louise instead.

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