Megan Cannings is no ordinary fashion designer. She failed home economics and struggles to read patterns—indeed, she says she’s ‘hopeless’ at it. But none of that has stopped Megan from creating beautiful, detailed and intricate fashion, including mega gowns that float on the runway.
On 19 October, Megan returns to present her latest collection at FASHFEST. Models will wear her gowns on the two massive moving escalators in the National Gallery of Australia’s main foyer. “I can’t wait to see the effect,” says the designer. “It’s going to be soooo dramatic for guests.”
Megan will showcase some ‘Megan Cannings Designs’ pieces she recently presented at New York Fashion Week, never before seen in the capital. New York was Megan’s first international show but not her first international invitation.
“After FASHFEST last year, organisers of Milan Fashion Week spotted my designs on social media,” says Megan. “When I received the invitation to go to Milan I didn’t believe it was real. The timing wasn’t right, but I’ll get there one day … and to Paris, another dream of mine.”
The inspiration behind this collection is spring in the country. Megan loves flowers as much as fashion and has designed elaborate gowns in styles, fabrics and colours to look like a spring bouquet. “Telling a story through a collection is so important,” says Megan. “It’s satisfying to see each piece come together as one.”
It’s been a big few years for Megan, with life throwing several curve balls her way. Cyclone Debbie devastated her home in north Queensland in March 2017. The roof ripped off, the veranda caved in and all of Megan’s sewing equipment and fabrics were destroyed. After weeks of clean-up, Megan picked herself up and moved to Sydney to start over again.
As a little girl, Megan always dreamed of being a fashion designer. She started sewing under the watchful eye of her aunty Pauline when she was in Grade 6. She’s taken a couple of sewing classes but has no other formal training. Instead, she designs primarily through intuition.
‘Floaty and feminine’ is how Megan describes her aesthetic, and the collection of gowns she’ll showcase this Friday at FASHFEST is no exception.
Megan will be the first of three designers at the 19 October show. She’ll be followed by the youngest designer to ever put a full collection on the catwalk, Charly Thorn, who—at just 19 years of age—has designed an evening luxe collection with vibrant silks. The show finishes off with pieces by Hajar Gala Couture, including gowns shown at Paris Fashion Week.
Andrea Hutchinson, co-founder of FASHFEST, says Megan’s designs always look stunning on the runway. “It’s difficult to believe that Megan designs without substantial formal training,” says Andrea. “The models love wearing her gowns. They’re elegant. The models will look fabulous wearing the pieces from this collection, especially on the moving escalators.”
After FASHFEST, Megan will concentrate on manufacturing and developing the retail side of her business. Plans are underway for her to stock her designs in a boutique on the Gold Coast.
This year, FASHFEST is changing it up, hosting a series of rolling shows in cultural institutions and buildings of historic significance. On 19 October the same show will repeat twice. Other shows will be held in December and February.
Andrea says showcasing in places like the NGA is super special. “This year we’re keen to celebrate new elements that make Canberra a great place, like our treasured national cultural institutions,” says Andrea. “For FASHFEST, it’s about keeping the show changing every few years and keeping our creative juices flowing.”