Fashfest Night 1 – Here Comes the Activist!

by The Editor


Opening night for FashFest was always going to be big – especially with a move to the National Convention Centre. Canberra’s best dressed were excited by what the new venue, and they weren’t to be disappointed.

The energy was amazing as the crowd at the bar swelled and the queue for the media wall lengthened. The new venue was a big step-up for the third edition of the event, with a polished feel that shows a great evolution from the grungy feel of the previous (unfinished) location at Canberra Airport.

Musical Director Ashley Feraude set the tempo with great tunes in the foyer and all throughout the show. With the theme of The Activist, Jack Billman filled the room with the sounds that evoked the great tradition of protest songs. As the lights shone on Fashfest’s longest catwalk, the music then moved back to the turn tables followed by Canberra DJ Hudak with the edgy rap of Suavess.

Finally, it was time for the show.


A 2014 graduate from CIT, Erin Spain opened 2015 Fashfest for the designers with a bold swimsuit collection. Her clever use of colour-blocked black and white scuba with highlighted pattern pieces and unusual pleat placements mixed in with pool side cover-ups utilising triangular mint print translated into sophisticated and absolutely wearable swimwear.

We liked: the high necks, cut out shoulders and ever-so-sexy zippers on the one-pieces

Little Jane Lane

Another 2014 CIT graduate, Rachel Jane provided a whimsical collection that was styled with big bows in the hair and bobby socks and heels. The shift dresses, two-piece sets and playsuits used an array of fabrics including chiffon, brocade and sequins in pastel tones of apricot and mint.

We liked: the use of chiffon in many of the garments which gave the collection a bit of 60s boudoir fee to it

Luke Chiswell

Luke Chiswell, a successful visual artist showing for the first time at Fashfest sent his models out with masks made of flowers. His clothes, unlike the colourful beauty of the flowers, were subtle and pared back. His fabrics, barely there fine linen and cheesecloth were crafted into neutral and earthy pieces with the occasional painted treatment. Worn as layers, the boldest piece was a boxing robe in black and white.

We liked: the haunting beauty of the flower masks juxtapositioned so perfectly with the simplicity of the clothes.

Solar Bare

The signature piece by this company is the ‘fashvest’ and tonight we saw that there is indeed a hole in the market for such a stylish and practical garment. The designs which are all based on marine patterns were perfectly showcased in form flattering swim tops.

We liked: the deep and vibrant colours and the use of raglan sleeve details to provide a fashion-forward silhouette.

That Bird Label

Spring picnic anyone? The ladies from That Bird Label in Cooma, showed a range of gorgeous and flattering, fit and flare dresses just waiting for the sun. This label has a lovely use of pattern and colour and a style for everyone.

We liked: the accessibility of this collection – particularly the long green leaf skirt and the black maxi with a white palm tree border

The Prodigal Daughter

Opening with a pink jumpsuit that is sure to be on many wish lists, this collection had a captivating mix of African wax print fabrics, inspirations, including a stunning 1970s inspired cape and an incredible attention to detail which was epitomised with the men’s jackets and vests. It was a truly enjoyable collection that transcended time or culture.

We liked: the pink jumpsuit (of course) and the mix of African wax print with a sheer lace top

The Professor’s Daughter

Smart, professional wear but that is creative and fun. This collection centred around the main prints of doors, windows and rain clouds with pops of red and navy throughout. This was wonderful collection showing the opportunities available through print and shape. Every piece was interesting and became even better through its partnering with other pieces in the collection.

We liked: the subtle emphasis on sleeve shapes, layering and the matching of the large and small door print pieces

Perpetually 5 + Clare

The most theatrical of all the collections tonight, models again were adorned with masks but this time with surgical masks and balloons or of houndstooth animal masks. Strictly in black and white, models, straight-legged, ‘tic-tocked’ down the runway with large pockets on their back wearing a range of simple but effective designs

We liked: The model pulling Mitch Thompson and Clare Read along the runway was particularly fun.


It was a great start to this weekend’s fashion extravaganza. We can’t wait to see what Thursday night brings!

Reviewed by Top Notch