16 September 2017

Diversity of design at FASHFEST

| Wendy Johnson
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Magpie Goose will be making a debut appearance at FASHFEST. Photo supplied.

The magpie goose sits at the top of the tree eating fermented mangoes and squawking all day.

Magpie Goose is more than a bird native to the Top End. It’s the name of a fashion social enterprise that will showcase its loud, proud and unapologetic designs on the catwalk at FASHFEST 2017.

It’s the first time Magpie Goose will hit the runway here in Canberra and the label will join a line-up of more than a dozen designers making their debut appearance, each with a unique aesthetic. While FASHFEST remains strong and true to independent fashion designers in the capital, like all-time favs Zilpah Tart and Naomi Peris Bridal, it must continually stretch to keep shows energised.

‘We have a cutting-edge spirit and our vision is to take guests to places they would not ordinarily go and show them what they would not ordinarily see,’ says Clint Hutchinson, co-founder of FASHFEST. ‘That’s why we incorporate live musicians and DJS, filmmakers and other creatives into the event. It expands the appeal to those keen on culture in a broad sense and provides a total experience, not just a runway. If you love the arts, then FASHFEST has something for you.’

For many, fashion remains the highlight with FASHFEST and diversity and experimentation always thrill.

Magpie Goose with its unapologetic designs. Photo supplied.

With Magpie Goose, the aesthetic revolves around bright, bold textiles designed and hand-screen printed in four remote community art centres. It’s the first time Canberrans will get to see them up close.

‘Each piece tells a story of people, place and culture,’ says Maggie McGowan, who created the label with Laura Egan. ‘The garments are simple, classic and created with natural fibres. We want to help people connect with Aboriginal culture through fashion. With FASHFEST we can bring these textiles direct to guests.’

No fashion show would be complete without haute couture. De Challie Haute Couture, founded in 1993 by designer Hajar Gala, who lives in Canberra, will grace the runway with a curated show of in-store gowns. De Challie has a reputation as one of the most elegant Australian designers in the couture world. She was trained in the French method at the International Fashion Academy and her current collection will be shown in this year’s Paris and New York fashion weeks.

At another point in the fashion spectrum sits Canberra’s Karen Lee. The Karen Lee label celebrates simple, sophisticated lines and classic shapes. ‘I create clothing for women wanting to be comfortable and confident; women who want to express themselves through personal style and individual creativity,’ says the designer.

Designer Karen Lee at FASHFEST 2016. Photo: Alec Morris.

This is Karen Lee’s fourth appearance at FASHFEST. Part of the label’s appeal is that it focuses on everyday women. ‘My designs transcend age, body shape and culture,’ says Karen. ‘They don’t follow current trends, and are designed to last for many years.’

Karen also owns Assemblage Project, an upmarket fashion boutique in Braddon. The labels she sells in-store complement her own in many ways with most designed and produced to celebrate slow fashion and sustainability. As with FASHFEST, diversity is key at Assemblage Project, so much so that Karen will present a group show in 2017, including respected labels such as Eva Cassis, High Tea with Mrs Woo and Wendy Voon.

Designer Karen Lee at FASHFEST 2016. Photo: Holly Williams.

FASHFEST is being held at the National Convention Centre Canberra with six shows held over three nights (28 September to 30 September) with after parties at QT Canberra. Seated tickets from $49. On sale now: www.fashfest.com.au

This article was written by Wendy Johnson for FASHFEST.

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