FASHFEST: Kicking Fashion Butt with New Designers

by The Editor

FashFest LogoThere’s less than a month to go. Less than a month before FASHFEST fever soars to an all-time high on opening night.

Kicking fashion butt this year is a line-up of new designers whose aesthetics cover every genre of the fascinating world of fashion. It’s an eclectic mix of emerging and established talent, all with a connection to the nation’s capital.


Take designer Ashani Madola, who recently moved to Canberra after studying design at Raffles Design Institute in Singapore and then living in the mysterious Middle East. Ashani launched her new label, All Eyes on Us, soon after settling here and is creating a sexy and glamorous collection to showcase on the catwalk, mixing comfortable fabrics and exquisite draping with chiffon, lace and mesh.

Feminine and edgy is what Reneira stands for, with sisters Taliya and Danielle Blom designing for 16 to 29 year olds. While the sisters sometimes clash over design their opposite personalities fuel their passion. The occasional clash is no surprise given that Taliya, who completed a Bachelor of Music at ANU, designs clothing the same way she creates music—on feeling, texture and tones. Danielle, with a Bachelor of Arts, is more practical, planned and perfectionist in approach. Still it works—and that’s the crazy thing about fashion don’t you think?

Love memories of travel? Then keep your eyes peeled for Recollection by Philipa Soutberg who inspires wearers to recollect the beauty of Australia’s magnificent natural landscape.

Zilpahtart BW
Silhouettes to flatter the female form are the hallmark of the designs by Yumi Morrisey of Zilpah Tart. With labels, the meaning behind the name can be as fascinating as the fashion. Memories rush forward here, with the label named in honour of Yumi’s grandmother. These are no trendy fad designs, but garments designed to last many years—a perfect fit for women aged 25 to 40 years who are confident and appreciate Australian-made products.

Sustainability is big with many Canberra designers, indeed bigger per capita than in most other Australian cities. Hanny Dewar launched Hanny-d Creations with a burning desire to see changes in attitude in what has to be one of the—if not THE—most wasteful industries in the world. Hanny creates using recycled remnants, rescued oddments and deconstructed garments to make new items.

Gina Poulakis of G.Ginchy also excels at sustainable practices. Who would ever know that Gina sources fabrics for her garments from pre-existing vintage clothing, which she disassembles and recreates? Or perhaps from vintage fabric stripped from an existing object, such as a lounge, cushions or curtains? If you’re petite and want to look curvaceous, this is a designer for you.

Although we don’t like to think it, we can only achieve truly sustainable life it we carry the core principles of environmental responsibility and social justice into every aspect of what we do. If that sounds far too serious for an article on new fashion designers, think again. Hannah Parris, the designer behind label Audrey Blue says a truly sustainable life involves making the right decisions about our wardrobes. She’s dead serious and it’s no wonder that Audrey Blue is the first, and so far the only women’s fashion label, to be certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard. Go, Canberra. Go.

Can FASHFEST possibly have another sustainable designer? You bet, but this time it’s Holly Squair from Character, who is busy filling a gap in the mature women’s fashion market. How mature? Very. Holly designs for women 60 to 85 years of age who are themselves ‘characters’—fashion-conscious style icons. Holly uses a zero-waste pattern-making technique for her colourful and quirky designs.

But wait, what about men’s fashion? And the shoes? The big hats? Graduates? Vintage? Adventure gear? FASHFEST is breaking boundaries here also. Stay tuned for more stories behind the story. Coming soon.

FASHFEST is on 30 April to 4 May at the Canberra Airport, a major FASHFEST partner.