The Annual Caramel Animals MBFWA Highlight Review 2018

Words and Photos: Reef Gaha | Editorial Assistant: Camilla Turnbull | Runway and Backstage at Resort ’19|

Caramel Animals presents a retrospective and alternative look at Australian Fashion Week, Resort ’19.

Now that the glitter has settled (or was it stardust?) we bring you this irreverent and non-comprehensive look back at eleven Resort ‘19 collections, traversing news and interviews from backstage at eight shows, where we conversed with our favourite hair and makeup directors as they worked to embody designers’ visions in follicular and maquillant form. In our quest to decode the concept and inspiration behind each collection showcase, the creatives at the nexus of couture, hair and makeup often provide the richest, most eloquent source of insight.

You’ll see every look from the runways we’ve covered and bear witness to frenetic, candid moments backstage, culminating in a spectacular denouement as Camilla confers an utterly transcendent, heart-rending finale to the week.

This year’s review covers Alice McCall, Albus Lumen, Lee Mathews, Double Rainbouu, We Are Kindred, Hansen & Gretel, Romance Was Born, Deadly Ponies, Roopa, Leo & Lin and Camilla. 

| Alice McCall |

McCall playfully brought delicate fabrics of varying weight and transparency together, in pieces ranging from play suits to two-piece sets and full-length gowns. Fuscia, florals, geometric neutrals and minty aquamarine pastels met cascading pleats in lavender and pink flanked by black, gold and white pieces. Evident as ever were McCall’s delicate hand embroidered flourishes and custom in-house designed laces. Feminine to the core, McCall’s look is one where a quintessential rock chic and underlying toughness temper the diaphanous fabrics.

Backstage, we chatted with MAC Makeup Director Nicole Thompson.

‘So, with Alice’s collection, like most of her collections, the dresses are for real women and how they want to look; very feminine, very girly, really beautiful. So, we always like to juxtapose a little with the makeup and hair and have a bit of toughness so it doesn’t look too floaty and girly. This year, it’s a little ‘twisted fifties’.

 Nicole continues.

‘The feeling of the hair is a modern take on the victory roll. The hair is twisted up backwards. I wanted to have the liner really powerful and strong. When they’re walking straight ahead, we wanted to make sure these [liner] flicks can be seen from both sides of the catwalk, super intense. The key with this was to get the girls looking straight ahead, and we did the flick-in first. That way, on the profile it’s super strong when they’re walking by. They look like they go faster with this liner – this liner goes faster!’

 Renya Xydis, hair director for Wella Global confirms the concept.

‘It’s vintage, forties/fifties tough chic, so she’s the cool Alice McCall girl. Basically we’ve just pulled the hair back on both sides so you can see the cheekbones and their fierceness. We’ve made them look fierce but not hard. We’ve made them look beautiful but not too pretty, and we’ve made them look strong but still feminine. Yeah, tough chicks.’


| Albus Lumen |

Marina Afonina’s inspiration for this collection was Pablo Picasso’s terracotta ceramic work from the 1970s. This is evident in the colour palette and fabrics seen at Albus Lumen’s first on-site MBFWA show. Deep, earthy tones met burnished ochres, soft blues and deep emeralds. Minimalist ¾ and ankle-length silk pieces were joined by two-piece sets with rustic undertones, many adorned with feature buttons and subtly styled contours. Tie waists, head scarfs and bucket hats complemented a look evocative of a provincial Mediterranean summer.

Backstage, we spoke with Lara Srokowski, makeup director for Lancome Australia.

‘The makeup look is about strong and powerful women, but it’s quite a unisex look so it’s really all about the skin. It’s perfect for Lancome because that’s our signature technique. What we’ve done is half the models will have this really beautiful natural glowing skin, which represents femininity. Then, you’ll see more of a masculine look as well, which is more of a terracotta touch to the skin. You’ll notice some of the models have a slight terracotta, almost sunburnt look across the high points of the cheek bones and the nose. This is to represent that they’ve been there working with clay. The ladies have been sitting there making pots, so they’ve had a little bit of clay kind of splashed on the face.’

Travis Balcke, hair director with Balmain Hair Couture further expanded upon the terracotta theme.

‘So Marina’s vision for the show is Pablo Picasso, and that there are two types of people in the show. There’s more of a masculine and a feminine but we’ve left that up to the person watching the show to decide which look they feel is more masculine or feminine. We have some girls with their natural texture, which we’ve encouraged with leave in conditioner, and then the second look is a more traditional ‘Spanish’, where we extended the hair and worked with high-sheen gel to create a long, thin braid.’

I asked Travis about his work with Marina.

‘We went to Los Angeles and shot a campaign which kind of set the tone of the collection, then came back and had several meetings about the girl and who the character of the show is. So, it’s quite minimal, but a lot of thought went into creating that.’


| Lee Mathews |

A passage from Lee Mathews’ site summarises this collection best.

‘Initial inspiration for the Lee Mathews Resort 19 collection came from the iconic American architect Frank Lloyd-Wright, designers Charles & Ray Eames, and minimalist artist Donald Judd [and] their belief that design should be in harmony with humanity and the environment.

With this concept in mind, Creative Director Lee and newly appointed Head Designer Natalia Grzybowski began with a grounding palette of creams and clays, punctuated with pops of mint, orange and blue. These colours appear across a hybrid of natural textiles and zero-waste fabrics – from organic cottons to a coated zero-waste Italian linen and ethically sourced silks […] Collectively, these precise compositions represent the vision and hope of change in the fashion industry, one where the environment is no longer an absent factor in the manufacturing process.’

Backstage we spoke with Alan White, Hair Director for Di Lorenzo and Lee Mathews, who confirmed the ecological sensibility behind the show. ‘Basically both companies come from sustainable backgrounds, and it’s a perfect tie up between the two companies. Di Lorenzo being ethically sound, and all of their ingredients being biodegradable, natural, and the same with Lee. Lee’s doing a lot of work with ethically sourced clothing, bottles, bottle tops and recycled stuff. We’re in an era now where it’s coming to pass, that’s what’s happening. We’re all trying to help save the planet.’

I asked Alan how this concept is further embodied in the hair look. He’s enthusiastic.

‘What we’re doing is organic, so we’re just trying to get every girl the best out of their hair. We’re using two different elements of the Di Lorenzo range. One is a conditioning, beautifying range, so […] that’ll finish them beautifully on the ends. And if we need to do a little setting, what I’ve done is use super single quill clip-ins around the forehead to open up the face. I’ve either used Barrel Wave, C-Swirl or Motion Mousse and then using the super single clip-ins, clip them into place and then diffused it dry, and what that does, it leaves me an indentation. After it’s all finished, we just brush it, run our hands through it, create a low ponytail at the nape and then finish it with the Ocean Mist. Just putting that on your hands, it relaxes the hair, brings in a little bit more natural texture.’ Alan sums up his working relationship with Lee: ‘I knew Lee when she was making clothes out of a bedroom in Paddington probably 25 years ago. So we’ve known each other since then, and I think she knows my feel is a really natural feel. So, natural texture.’

Claire Thompson, makeup director with Guerlain, expands upon the concept.

‘I believe in the skin. Less about powder and baking and highlighting and contouring, and more about creating a glow from within. Super, super moisturised skin. Using this incredible colour on the lips, but also on the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose, and all the areas the sun would naturally hit. I feel it gives us a more lived-in bronze, summer glow in a way because it’s less towards those traditional bronzy colours and more about this sort of lift lately, like you’ve had a little too much sun. And the lipstick too. Not perfect. No heavy lines. Everything is sort of blended out. Everything is slightly imperfect to make it look perfect.’


| Double Rainbouu |

As former creative directors at Ksubi, Double Rainbouu’s Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones are exponents of an erstwhile cult-like subcultural tradition within Australian fashion. There are times when clothing forms part of an inextricable intersection between emerging culture, music and nightlife milieus. Post-lockout Sydney is not exactly in the grip of a compelling subcultural emergence, but this collection, appropriately presented at the Lansdowne Hotel, harks to such pivotal moments in youth culture.

‘Synth UUave Resort 19’ speaks to a psychedelic synth-wave inspiration behind this collection, evidenced by the ‘Synthetic Leisure’ motif woven into key pieces. The colour palette is pure candy shop and neon, tempered with darker industrial fabrics and warped checker-boards alongside fetishistic fish-netting and PVC, primed for a mind-altering all-night rave.


| We Are Kindred |

An endlessly feminine tour de force, this was one of those shows where every girl on the runway embodied a leading lady presence. Floral and botanical prints, a runway lined with fresh floristry and hemlines adorned with daisy flower appliques; a colour palate of pink, minty green and creamy white ensemble pieces with gorgeous detailing, all perfectly accessorised with custom sun hats, matching scarfs and gold statement jewellery.

Backstage, we spoke with Richard Kavanagh, hair director for Redken, about the hair look.

‘We’re creating a really very feminine style with a utilitarian braid and a gritty texture. The concept for the show is about the strength of femininity, bringing the gritty texture in. It’s as though she’s busy working, she’s just thrown her hair back in a quick braid, and she’s getting on with her work.’

I asked Richard about working with Kindred.

‘I’ve worked with the Kindred brand on a regular basis since they started. I guess my personal aesthetic matches their brand aesthetic, so it’s super easy. I just turn up and go ‘here you go, do this’. It’s a really easy creative process. I get what they’re trying to say with the collection, I get what they’re trying to say with the brand. So I just try to enhance and amplify that through creating a character with the hair. I guess the We Are Kindred woman is a woman who is powerfully entrenched in her femininity. She embraces her femininity and is strong in it.’

Makeup director Molly Warkentin gave us an insight into the makeup look.

‘It’s all about being fresh, youthful, free spirited. I’ve taken that into the skin; it’s all about skin.

We want them to look really hydrated, but I wanted to play and make it fun as well! To make that freshness come through, we’ve used blush for a flush through the centre panel of the cheek, almost like she’s just run up some stairs. And then we’ve done some faux freckles as well, which just keeps it fun.’

I asked Molly about the faux freckles.

‘We were shooting their campaign and I kind of just did my thing in the morning. We loved it, and that was going to be the makeup. The model we were working on, Zoe Barnard, actually had natural freckles, but I loved it so much, we decided to do the faux freckles for everyone. She was my inspiration, my freckle-ation.’


| Hansen & Gretel |

Hansen & Gretel’s rocking ‘Eve’ collection stood out for the way it seemed to riff on that evolutionary moment in the late 70s where premonitory foreshadowing of 1980s styling had very much begun, but elements of the late 60s influence were still an integral part of the visual currency. This moment spanned styles from mild to wild. At times H&G seemed to be calling on the gloss of Charlie’s Angels (complete with a buoyant hair flick) and at times, the grit of Stevie Nicks. This along with a wealth of other 70s pop-culture iconography and a huge helping of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with a catwalk move that saw a ‘Satisfaction’ T-shirt walked halfway down the runway before dodging left into the crowd without reaching the end – cute. Many looks saw the models shod in the ankle boots which have resulted from H&G’s collab with Senso, sporting deep forefoot lacing almost to the toe, mildly reminiscent of a daintier ice-skate style boot.

Backstage, we caught up with Prema’s inimitable Gareth Lenagh, hair director for KMS.

‘The look that we’re going for is an evolution change. Ainsley really wanted to emphasise the natural progression of women. We’ve started off the hair with a natural look, working with the girls’ natural texture. We wanted to make them the best version of themselves. We’ve taken a centre part, working it with a really polite ear tuck, and some natural movement through the back, then we’ve worked that into a low ponytail. With that low pony, we’ve used a little bit of rope. The reason we wanted to use rope? It’s a little more raw. With the theme of Eve and the Garden of Eden, I wanted to bring in a little raw material. That’s working all the way through to the end with what we call the grunge curl, which is more styled; it’s more of a finished look and a pop.’

Rene Benkenstein directed makeup for Clinique. We asked her about ‘Eve’ as she worked on Clinique ambassador Steph Claire Smith’s fresh visage.

‘This is very feminine; this is exploring different levels of femininity. Its free, it’s still very beautiful, but not overly done.’

Rene continues. ‘Different looks play up different elements, but always making sure that it’s not overdone. So, when it came to cheeks for example, there is more of a soft flush. Lips would be natural lip toned, but just enhanced a little. And then on the eyes we have some natural moments, but also a slight graphic liner. And then some of the models show a surprise pop of blue. So, that also brings in a little fun element.’


| Romance Was Born |

After closing MBFWA with the spectacular ‘Electro Orchid’ last year, 2018 saw RWB take their show off-site and ‘underground’, into the speakeasy cabaret-like surroundings of Restaurant Hubert in Sydney’s CBD. Sequestered away below street level, their latest collection was revealed. Though still glowing with the colour palette and ethereal themes that herald their signature style, the shift to a Tuesday night in a cosy venue seemed to reflect the more approachable wearability with which Anna and Luke have imbued ‘Mother of Opal/Opal Goddess’. Incorporating Jenny Kee’s classic opal print and referencing Erté’s iconic art deco illustrations, the pair have put a modernised and uniquely Australian twist on high 20’s style. Models walked the collection out into static, mannered poses while draped in vibrant colour, luxurious jewels, abundant pleats and soft, flowing materials.


| Deadly Ponies |

An NZ label making their MBFWA debut, Deadly Ponies are known for their leather accessories. The newest line ‘Devotees’ takes inspiration from devotion. Creative director Liam Bowden is quoted in FashioNZ as saying ‘In the new season silhouettes, PVC features heavily as a means of presenting a second skin over signature pieces, protecting and revering the objects within, creating almost transportable temples of modern day craftsmanship.’ For the show, models were clad in soft, flowing pink and violet outfits fashioned from scarf material (and previewing the brands forthcoming scarf collection),  to walk bags out, with electric blue and pale pink pants serving to highlight and maintain focus on the accessories being presented.


| Roopa |

Perhaps John Pulitano, hair director of this show for Redken summarises Roopa’s Resort ’19 collection best: ‘When I spoke to Roopa, the concept was all about the architecture in Nepal. Really beautiful, colourful, different mandalas hanging in the street. Beautiful textures; the rooftops and the layering in the rooftops. I think a lot of her shapes are very much like that too. Lots of beading. There’s definitely a real richness in the colour of the fabrics and the beading. It’s a really beautiful collection.’


I asked John how he’d be reflecting this theme with the hair.

‘One look is a little reminiscent of how the women in Nepal would wear their hair; generally it’s very smooth. It has a rich texture. A very soft braid, but literally just the beginning of a braid. The first twist, and then we’ll tie it so that there’s some pieces coming through, very soft and very luscious.

Then we’ve got girls with curls. With them, we’re going to create a really defined, beautiful, separated curl and lots of high shine. I really want to make that curl come to life on the runway, but instead of coming to life in a fluffy kind of way, coming to life with a really moist finish and shine.’ As we spoke as John worked on the tresses of Redken ambassador Adriana Perri, who’d stopped by with the Blondage Army.

Makeup director Lara Srokowski from Lancome corroborated, and explained the makeup concept.

‘The clothes are really pretty for this particular look, so we wanted to have the makeup a little grungier to complement the style so as not to be too overpowering with that kind of prettiness. We’ve created a beautiful skin, that’s our signature, and we’ve gone for a little more of a grungy eye look. You’ll see a trend of two different eye looks throughout the show. There’s one that will be dark black liner, smudged all over the eye with black eye shadow on top. Then, just before the models hit the runway we’re going to make it nice and glossy and it’ll start to smudge a little bit. That’ll look cool. The brows are kept raw so the focus really is that eye. The second eye look is all about liner; the inner rim has been lined, and then on top there’s a little bit of a winged liner, but it’s been blended into the bottom, so it’s kind of an architectural eyeliner look.’

I asked Lara what she’d use to give the eye work its glossy look.

‘We use lip gloss. I’m using one with a bit of glitter in it so it gives that two-dimensional gloss effect!’

| Leo & Lin |

Leo & Lin carried off their MBFWA debut with an ethereal theme, a galactic muse and a starry violet backdrop. The ‘Ms Moonlight’ collection was unapologetically whimsical. Shades of sunset, dusk and pale indigo were evident in a colour palette that contrasted with a glistening, celestial white. The starry motif, astrological symbols and cute sixties styling were evocative of golden age cinematic musicals, with a contemporary geometric twist. To that end, Moon River featured prominently in the soundtrack, calling Audrey to mind.