Australian Spring/Summer

Before a single thread hits the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week catwalk, Daniela Aroche gets an exclusive preview of the key fabrications and looks from select designers taking part.


Sara Phillips

Sara Phillips concentrates on a super-natural native essence this summer season, drawing inspiration from native Australian flora and fauna. The construction focus is on soft tailoring, using natural fibres such as linen, cotton and a variety of different textured silks. Numerous prints liven the range mixed with engineered hand-drawn and digitally printed pieces. “The main difference of our collection this season is the amount of print we have introduced. It is 80 per cent print-based,” she says. “Beading and hand-embroidery also accents the hyper-real quality within the collection.”

Dion Lee


Dion Lee has invested heavily in architectural structuring for his spring/summer 2011 collection, which includes a new shirting line. Silk features prominently throughout the range and key colours of black, white and grey are broken up by garments in emerald green, aqua, pale blue, apricot and blush pink. The feel is soft yet structured, with a mix of draping and layering techniques in dresses, classic blazers and suiting and sheer, buttoned shirts. The designer has also dabbled in prints this season, including a  3D “illusionist” pattern and an ivory print. 



Guanabana’s “Casablanca” collection marks the beginning of a fresh new look for the label. According to lead designer Linda Bergskas, the summer 2011 range is “dressier, more luxurious and more of a testament to what the label aesthetic is all about”. Inspired by North Africa’s exotic and vibrant landscape, the 25-piece collection features three original graphic prints inspired and abstracted from Moorish architecture, textile and tile patterns. Fabrics are soft, with an emphasis on sheer panelling, deconstructed draping and wrapping in silk, cotton and rayon blends. Colour pops in a vibrant collision of bold pinks, calypso oranges, tropical turquoise combined with more earthy sand tones. Beading, embellishment and metallic accents provide the finishing touches.

Little Joe Woman 

The legendary Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street and the recent documentary Stone in Exile are the inspirations behind the Little Joe Woman spring/summer 2011 range. A sense of bohemian luxe runs through Gail Elliott’s “Love In Exile” collection with a mix of flowing garments and tailoring creating a modern yet relaxed look. Draping, bare shoulders and deconstructed dresses and blouses use soft fabrics such as silk crepe de chine, silk chiffon, silk cotton and silk cashmere. Elliott has also introduced leather and suede fabrics this year and the addition of blazers and skinny leg pants in clean lines round out the 60-plus piece collection. Prints this season are bold and striking, and the collection colour palette incorporates purples, blues, camouflage, flesh tones and white. Pieces are decorated with a mix of vintage detailing such as lace, mother of pearl buttons and delicate roll hems, and laser-cut detailing on suede, leather, fringing and beaded embellishments. 

Jaime Lee


New generation entrant Jaime Lee collaborated with Los Angeles latex designer Abigail Greydanus to create pieces for her spring/summer “Pollination” collection. Garments are heavily embellished and textural, including latex creations with a hand-cut honeycomb print and a gold and honey colour palette. Silhouettes are lady-like with high necklines, cinched-in waists, peter pan collars and full skirts which make up the 12-piece show. “There are three hero pieces in the collection,” Lee says. “One being a knitted rug-like dress and two lace couture dresses with hand-embellished clusters of sequins to create a floral and pollen-like texture. Honey-dripped heels filled with bumble bees finish of the look.”

Bec & Bridge 


Bec & Bridge designers Becky Cooper and Bridget Yorston have focused on conveying a clean, sexy and polished look through their summer 2011 collection. A ‘70s New York vibe permeates the 30-piece range and is evident in the silhouettes as well as the two key prints, inspired by the Chrysler building and the vibrancy and glamour of the period. Garments are complemented by rose gold hardware accessories and matched with suede belts and shoes. Dresses in varying lengths and prints dominate with the addition of knitwear, hand-knitted crochet pieces and tops and pants. Cooper and Yorston say surprise elements such as volume, pleats and interesting colour combinations teamed with white will inject a freshness into the collection. “Fashion Week 2011 will certainly see a ‘grown up’ Bec & Bridge collection,” they say. “It’s very sophisticated and has moved on from the heavily body-con silhouette that we’re known and loved for. We’re wanting to offer our customer something new."

Antonia Paris

The scene of Antonia Paris’ untitled summer collection is set in a modern-American desert daydream where fashion is flirtatious, comfortably casual and breezily chic. Inspired by bohemian Americana, the 33-piece collection features mini dresses, vests, short-shorts, transparent tops and slouchy knitwear in key fabrics of suede, mesh, denim and linen. Earthy khaki and taupe tones are paired with pale pink, bright fuchsia and American blue, and embellished with feathers, beading and suede fringing. Stitching and sharp cuts mark construction. Paris says the summer range “marks a new direction for the Antonia Paris label” and describes the feel of the collection as “casual ease of desert tomboy style given a revamp with a sexy modern edge”.


Bianca Spender 

Bianca Spender has drawn inspiration from modernism, specifically the period from 1910 to 1914, for her sculptural, geometric and abstract collection. Captivated by the break away from tradition in art and creative ideas during the era, Spender’s use of colour and graphics combine to create pieces which cut geometric shapes with clear form and clean lines. Fabrics are melded together in unconventional combinations, such as organza with silk crepe de chine and organza mixed with jersey. Yellow, blue and red feature prominently throughout the collection. “I’ve included all the primary colours, but they are probably on the powdery side and then I’ve built it up with a really neutral base of nudes, whites, silver, a tobacco-like colour and black and white,” Spender says.

Lisa Maree


The summer Lisa Maree swimwear collection “Under My Skin” was fuelled by the strength of the feminine spirit, Africa and its infamous Serengeti sunrise. This season, 35 looks grace the runway, with a focus on warm hues, rusts and unique prints, designed by former graphic designer and label founder Lisa Maree. Crochet swimwear and cut-out styles remain a strong feature throughout the collection and the label has expanded its Lycra swimwear range. Resortwear in silk fabrics form part of the range, with jumpsuits and capes the key additions. Prints remain the hero of this collection with only light embellishments of sequins, leather and metal accents adorning the pieces.

Morrison creative director Kylie Radford has created a range that is fresh, energetic and crisp for the summer season. The silhouettes are relaxed with a definite juxtaposition of female and male dress codes. The “Pret” (“ready” in French) collection is cut from Italian cotton, silk and linen with key colours including white and orange. The garments transition from relaxed through to semi-structured with a mix of oversized blazers, printed, structured tops and man-style pants with injections of full skirts in leather. Pieces are no-nonsense, clean, modern and minimal with a sense of ease. “I was inspired by the importance of being content in oneself,” Radford says. “This is when you can be who you are and not live through the expectations of others.”

Michael Lo Sordo

Michael Lo Sordo has channelled inspiration from the silhouettes of the ‘70s to create his summer 2011 collection, zoning in on a look that is chic, minimal and luxurious with a sense of lightness, fluidity and innocence. “Less is more for me this year,” he says. “Uncomplicated detailing allows us to concentrate on our silhouettes, cuts, fabrication, and style. Focusing on the brand’s tailoring and chic-clinical minimalism was always in the back of our minds. I was also inspired by stripping the layers of complexity in construction.” Dresses are the feature for spring/summer, incorporating beautifully cut, A-line, sheer-layered, and minimal body -con and low-cut styles, mixed with a twist on the palazzo pant. A contrasting mix of sheer and solid silks are used throughout the collection and prints, inspired by light, breezy and natural elements also feature. Shades of sorbet gelato pastels, with a predominantly fresh white palate bring the collection to life. “This is an evolution,” Lo Sordo says. “Our direction as a label is morphing into one that will embody sophistication but with a distinct innocence.”




Talulah designer and founder Kelli Wharton captures the spirit of a walk through Medina in Marrakesh on dusk through her summer pieces. A focus on natural fabrications of soft rayons and linens in a palette of washed chalks, corals, sky greys and olives paint the scene. Prints developed and designed by Talulah, inspired by tiles lining the walls of Morocco’s ancient cities, also feature. Smocking, weaving, dip dyeing, platting, macramé and pleating techniques have been used to construct the garments to make up the 40 looks for the runway. Strapless, detailed bustier dresses and free-flowing maxis are the hero pieces of this collection, which blends beautiful finishes with plain silhouettes.

Perth-based swimwear label Kooey has drawn on the central Australian desert around Alice Springs for its summer range. Prints from indigenous artist Anne Hanning feature in many of the pieces and striking shades of orange, red, purple, black and blue are derived from the desert scene. “We have featured a wider range of full-piece suits in this collection – from the more conservative to the slightly edgier cut-out styles,” designer Nikki Silverthorne says.  “We were quite inspired by ruching in this collection and we have used beaded accessories on some of the pieces.” The collection of approximately 35 pieces also includes some resortwear, including a high-waist pant.



This year, Nookie showcases its beach line which includes swimwear, apparel and touches on men’s swim. The theme is synergy between design, fashion and all things natural and the quintessence of the collection is depicted through the colours, prints and fabrications. Bamboo cottons, draping rayons and cotton meshes and lace with Italian lycras for the swimwear are key. Three bold signature prints mark the collection with tribal references conveying a future warrior vibe. “I want to encourage the Nookie girl to be who she is, but also encourage her to have more of a social awareness,” designer Nikita Sernack says. Sernack has also experimented with new finishes and constructional details in this range, including wrapping details inspired by a yoga aesthetic, as well as the knotting and twisting of fabric. “We are also playing quite a bit with layering, draping and voluminous silhouettes with interesting cut-outs.” Sernack says.


Camilla and Marc 

The spring/summer 2011 Camilla and Marc collection is structured, with a strong focus on tailoring. Key materials of silk, leather and denim are used to create a range which incorporates dresses, high-waisted tailored pant styles, jackets and skirts. Neutral shades of nude, pastel pink, black, white and grey contrast against pieces in emerald green and terracotta. Prints, such as a metallic blue, grey and black leopard print and a delicate red polka-dot pattern against white, pepper the range. Draping adds depth, but embellishments are kept to a minimum with zip detailing on pants and jackets and leather detailing on dresses.

Manning Cartell 


“The Labyrinth Unlocked” spring/summer collection by Manning Cartell sees an explosion of luxury colour and volume across 32 looks. Soft draped fabrics such as digital printed silk georgette, crepe de chine and fine gauze give the range a lightweight, flowing character and voluminous billowing maxi dresses and skirts reign. Additions of textured raffia, basket weave and crochet, metallic lurex stripe and jersey provide contrast. Detailing is a recurring feature and garments are embellished using silk cornelli applique, cut-out embroidery, sea bead stripes, fringed leather with tulle lace, and laser-cut pony suede. The colour palette reflects inspiration from the desert landscape and the stonewalls of an ancient city, with soft hues of rust, turmeric, mustard, terracotta, gold, white and maize. Intense colour highlights of grotto blue and vibrant red are added to evoke the illusion of distant visions.


A Japanese proverb – “If you can origami 1000 paper cranes your wish will come true” –  inspired designer Bowie Wong’s spring/summer 2011 collection, aptly titled “Paper Crane”. The 42-piece range is made up entirely of dresses with structured silhouettes. Using silk as the core fabric, gowns are heavily embellished with intricate detailing using sequins, crystals and beads. “It took me nine months to finish this collection,” Wong says. “The reason why it took me so long is because there was a lot of hand-work involved – lots of embroidery, hand-beading and hand-origamied sequins and stitching. Imagine using an origami technique on each piece of circle and square sequin, which is made of plastic – it’s a lot of work. This has been done to decorate some of the dresses  – the sequin is origamied into a star and then stitched on the bodice. But it will be incredible; I believe this is by far the best of my creations.” Five dresses have also been made from silk vintage kimonos, which have been unstitched and reformed back in another pattern. Colours are simple – black, white, red and almond, silver and gold. Wong has also used laser-cut leather lace and a laser-burn technique where patterns have been burnt out of material and then stitched on a dress.


Uscari designer Krystel Davis describes the label’s latest summer collection as one which evokes a sensation of “contrasting reality with the world of the imagined, creating pieces with a spellbound effect”. Silk and leather are the main fabrics for this collection, which features raw edges and statement pieces that mimic works of art. The range is highly detailed with key embellishments, such as burnt edges, luxe leathers and individually designed copper studs adorning the designs. “There are also a number of pieces which feature cut-outs and some also play on foil printing,” Davis says. “The signature print of the collection is a detailed feather and skin design in a soft colour palette, and I’ve used muted tones mixed with shades of white and blends of blush peach, a delicate print that explores opacity.”

Miss Unkon 


Miss Unkon unbottles the magic of imagination to create a summer 2011 collection that tells the story of “Girls with kaleidoscope minds”. Creative director of the label, Courtney Meyer, has combined soft colours with an earthy feel with pink and coral sunset shades to create 30 feminine looks with a little edge. Prominent fabrics include lace, silk, georgette, rayon, cotton and chiffon with lacing and detail added into the construction. “Dresses, cute shorts and tops and a signature jacket are key features for the Miss Unkon collection,” Meyer says. “This year, we’ve also got a lace caped jacket dress and a jacket which mixes our love of surprising cut-outs and our new love of lacing”.

Karla Spetic


Karla Spetic has softened her design silhouettes this season, with structured design lines and a clean aesthetic. The summer 2011 range is injected with a bold and optimistic vibe, incorporating heavy silks and an intense and bright colour spectrum. “I feel that my customer has grown up,” she says. “I found my inspiration through interior design while in the process of moving home. My mind was in redecorating mode, therefore the shapes and prints very much reference interiors through bold intense colours. I like the thought of putting together mismatched and graphic tiles with different shapes and colours together.”

Bless’ed Are The Meek

Bless’ed Are The Meek designer Tarek Kourhani tells the story of an of Arabian beauty with bohemian influences through the label’s summer 2011 range.  The 25-piece collection, titled “A Persian Lust”, draws inspiration from the ancient history of Persia, Egypt, Greece, the Aztecs, Incas and African tribes.  Kourhani says subtle suggestions of sexual strength, seduction and mystery sum up the theme of the collection and soft fabrics are used to convey this feel throughout. “We’ve opted for silks, developed viscose, lightweight knits, and cottons which have been pulled together using various types of hardware such as eyelets, bull bars, and leather detailing. We’ve also developed a new style of embellishment that runs through the collection. It resembles a barbell and is functional for holding together pieces of garment.”

Alistair Trung

Designer Alistair Trung says managing his business is not unlike running a theatre company, and hence has titled his summer 2011/12 collection simply – ACT III. The range, which includes over 150 garments, is divided by two major styles – draped and tailored – in colours ranging from black and white to shades of grey, tan and rust, offset against acid highlights of cobalt blue, pollen yellow and purple. Trung describes the overall look as “tribal urban zen goes sporty”, where a “cross-cultural/celestial aura is juxtaposed against urban and sporty elements”. “It is the hybridisation of majestic and urban influences with an emphasis also on mixing masculine and feminine influences, couture lines and fabrications against sporty influences,” Trung says. Hand-crafted fabrics by artisans from Asia and Africa, such as mud and vegetable-dyed silks, linen gauze, Japanese cotton voile and organdie, add a rich, earthy and luxurious touch to the collection. Abstract and monotone digital prints make an appearance, but embellishment is minimal, to highlight inventive spiral cutting techniques to create strong architectural silhouettes.




A piece of vintage wallpaper provided the core inspiration for Flannel’s summer 2011 range, which designer Kristy Lawrence describes as Asia meets Paris. The “La Sakura” garments combined, deliver a light summer collection cut in luxurious fabrics, such as silk, suede, leather and cotton. “We’ve used our usual neutral palette adding some bolder colours for this summer and left  embellishments to a minimum to let these natural fabrics shine”  Lawrence says. French seams, clean lines and minimal stitching emerge as a key element of construction for the 100 pieces which form the collection and dresses feature heavily to complement the Australian lifestyle. “Our evening wear has also been expanded for this collection as well as reworking Flannel classics,” Lawrence adds.

Kate Sylvester 


Shades of light and dark distinguish Kate Sylvester’s RAFW runway looks this season. Inspiration drawn from images of moths and motorcross translates to washed silks and soft viscose in moody, dusty tones interspersed with shots of vivid colour. Embellishments vary, from the use of appliqué to pleating, and a smattering of sequins across 30 to 35 garments. Separate pieces rule Sylvester’s 2011 collection, with an emphasis on slouchy boy cut singlets teamed with longer-length skirts. “I always like to mash up extremes and [this collection] is beautiful, atmospheric and dirty,” Sylvester says. “While summer 10 was charming and fresh, summer 11 is more moody and sexy.”

By Daniela Aroche

This article was originally commissioned by Ragtrader Australia.