The Annual Caramel Animals MBFWA Highlight Review 2019

Words and Photos: Reef Gaha Runway and Backstage at Resort ’20|

Caramel Animals presents a retrospective and alternative look at Australian Fashion Week, Resort ’20.

Now that the stardust has settled, we bring you this irreverent and non-comprehensive look back at ten Resort ‘20 collections, traversing news and interviews from backstage at seven shows, where we conversed with our favourite hair and makeup directors as they worked to embody designers’ visions in follicular and maquillant form. As usual, 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. This year, our reviews are presented alphabetically, rather than in order of appearance.

This year’s review covers Alice McCall, Carla Zampatti, Double Rainbouu, Emma Mulholland, Lee Matthews, Leo and Lin, Mariam Seddiq, PE Nation, Tigerlily and We Are Kindred. 


| Alice McCall |

Resort ’20 marked 15 years of Alice McCall’s eponymous label. The designer synonymous with playful rock chic, bohemian glamour and effortless vintage references sent the latest evolution of her signature style down the runway with the ‘Cosmia’ collection. McCall brought delicate fabrics of varying weight and transparency together, in pieces ranging from short play suits to two-piece sets and full-length gowns. Retro vintage prints gave way to mauve, fuschia, pink and coral. Layered ruffles were followed by meshy sheers and shimmering metallic gowns.

| Backstage at Alice McCall |

Backstage, we chatted with MAC Cosmetics Makeup Director, Nicole Thompson.
‘Today we’re doing 60s girl with a little rock and roll twist. It’s all about lashes today. We’ve actually got three sets going on; top, bottom, in between. We’re doing strips. We’re doing individual. We’re basically making it look so lashtastic, making their eyes look huge, but we’re fitting it to each girl. The lip is a beautiful nude; a dirty nude. It’s called Act Natural. I say a dirty nude, because it’s not peachy and cute. She’s not peachy and cute; she’s had too much of a good time. This is a couple of hours into the night kind of make-up.’

I ask Nicole for a little insight into who the Cosmia girl is.

‘I always feel like there’s a little bit of a 60s reference in Alice’s work. The last few times I’ve worked with her, there’s always like a little 60s thrown in. You know what? Today, we’re somewhere in between Twiggy and Jane Birkin. It’s that effortless beauty that Jane Birkin had, but then pack on those lashes and we’re heading more towards Twiggy.’

Wella hair director Keiren Street corroborates. ‘It’s all about a cool, kind of lived in, slight nod to the 60’s teddy girl. It’s a little bit sweaty, a little bit gritty. It’s a little bit of fun. Some of the girls have fringes plonked in there, to give them a kind of fun, effortless movement.’


| Carla Zampatti |

To say that Carla Zampatti is an icon of Australian fashion design would be an understatement.

Regardless, her enduring influence is as much a product of her everlasting flair for style, as it is her formidable acumen as a businessperson. In 2019, her signature look remains as contemporary and up-to-the-minute as ever. At Resort ’20, that signature was ever-present in a silhouette defined by strong shoulders, a taper at the waist and elongation of form to the ankles.

Clean lines abounded, with staples in warming indigo, a tiger lily print, suits and gowns in blacks and primaries followed by geometric and animal black and white patterns, culminating with the appearance of a balloon-sleeved number with narrow split skirting.

Zampatti was given pride of place in closing MBFWA. She chose to do so by bringing in the Brandenburg Orchestra for musical accompaniment, combining her love of classical music and fashion.

| Backstage at Carla Zampatti |

Backstage, we spoke with Lara Srokowski, Director of Artistry for Lancome Australia.

‘The makeup look for Carla Zampatti was all around architectural eyeliner, really pushing the boundaries of makeup. Really quite defined eyes.

Lancome is always about really natural skin, so we’re using that to compliment these quite structured eye looks. There’s been a lot of architectural eye liner this year at fashion week, which has been great to see, really. It’s my signature eye liner, so it’s great. I really love designing eye liner looks.’

The makeup look was also a statement on Zampatti’s signature style…

‘Definitely. This is a 60s and 70s inspired winged eyeliner. That was the trend back in the 60s and 70s, so it’s cool to kind of modernize the wing liner a little bit and to take it a little bit more edgy. We’ve made it triangular in the outer corner and done that splash of gold, for a more modern approach on that wing.’

We also spoke with Goldwell’s John Pulitano about the hair concept.

‘I feel like Carla’s work is so high end and beautiful. Today she has these beautiful pants suits, lots of prints. It’s definitely expensive, but what we want to do is bring a softer, freer element to the hair, more like a rock chick inspired look. That gives it a bit of toughness and a bit of an edge. The whole idea is to keep it flat and more head-hugging, no volume at the roots, because the more volume, the more beautiful a look becomes. Spray your double boost on the roots. Blow dry flat. Blow dry the deep side part over the face, because we want hair covering one eye when the girl comes out. Blow dry that all forward, and then we are going to take a round brush, and we are just going to put a little flick in it, but all we want is a bend. We don’t want to make it retro. How do we take a ’70s inspired flick and make it now? We put a little bend in it, so when girls come out they might have a little right angle, and then the hair will just billow out to the side, and that will reference a nice ’70s inspiration brought into the now.’


| Double Rainbouu |

This year, Double Rainbow’s off-site collection showcase took place in the Chinese Garden of Friendship alongside Sydney’s Darling Harbour.  Designers Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones chose the gardens for the way they ‘present an idealised microcosm of nature where all elements are balanced in harmony […] The garden is a moment of peace and tranquillity within the concrete and chaos of the city’. The ‘Synthetic Leisure’ theme, emblematic of last year’s collection has given way to a zen-like embrace of nature. The fabrics are softer and feature ‘gi’ style two piece sets, some carrying Japanese style prints harking to ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’. Macramé towel carriers and slide footwear speak to long summer vacation days, but Double Rainbouu’s psychedelic and Nu-Rave influences are still evident; These garments will be as much at home on warehouse party dance-floors as they will be on the beach.


| Emma Mulholland |

Emma Mulholland’s ‘Holiday’ breakout label has been characterised by collaborations with artists and photographers, and by Emma’s interest in the souvenir. We asked Emma herself for a little insight. ‘I’ve been working at Paramount Hotel on a collaboration. I wanted this event to be just a lot of souvenirs. I’ve worked on about 8 different collaborations with Sydney artists. And yeah, we’re just kind of having a party and there will be a bunch of people dressed up in the clothes and stuff as well.’ For her Resort ’20 event, Emma decked out the foyer of Paramount House Hotel as a pop-up Souvenir shop – the kind you might find at a regional holiday destination – and put on a party. Soft toys, homewares, totes, t-shirts, caps and hoodies filled a space decorated with palm trees, neon lights, wax fruits, and Mulholland’s key checkerboard thematic. Models and various guests at the party wore pieces from the Holiday collection, resplendent in those checks, pastel pinks, bright greens and logo prints.


| Lee Matthews |

Matthews celebrated 20 years of her label this year, and for part of this collection, drew on influences from her earlier work. Sheer fabrics, draping, utilitarian sensibilities and an ‘LM’ monogram print all made an appearance as Lee along with head designer Natalia Grzybowksi hewed from the elegant yet utilitarian sensibility the house has become known for. Separates in sustainably sourced linen and cotton met statement dresses in luxurious silks. A palate of black and white was punctuated by dark reds and soft pinks, all set to a soundtrack that concluded with a Cocteau Twins finale.

| Backstage at Lee Matthews |

Backstage, we spoke with Nathan Gorman, Hair Director from Kevin Murphy, about what inspired the hair look. ‘Lee Matthews has a really effortless appeal, and we wanted to actually fold the hair in a way that didn’t resemble a bun, but was unique and reflective of the folds in the clothing that Lee actually does. So, Lee’s quite famous for using lots of different kinds of fabrics and draping to create that beautiful shape and flow. We wanted to highlight and actually make the hair disappear. So we folded it, we tied it, and we’ve used a hairband around the face to elongate the neck and to really hero the face and the neck, and the shoulders of the clothing.’

Claire Thompson directed the makeup design. ‘There’s always a freshness to the Lee Matthews woman. She’s never overdone, never tacky. In a time of contour and wet highlights, I feel the Lee woman is an in-between. It’s not matte skin, but it’s not wet or glossy. It’s a creaminess now to the skin that we’re seeing, which I think is a lot more elevated; more expensive looking.’

Claire continues.

‘She’s travelled, and there’s a little flush on the cheeks to tie in with those beautiful fabrics that indicate travel, and that indicate you’ve been having a good time. Beautiful brushed-up brows. She’s elegant.’


| Leo and Lin |

Leo and Lin’s sophomore outing at MBFWA made a marked departure from the sweet ‘Ms Moonlight’ collection that debuted last year. Romance was still writ large, but this time the creative vision expanded into an eclectic toughness and worldly versatility, evidenced by the adoption of botanical prints, revealing sheer and mesh fabrics, and a nomadic, gypsy-like flourish to the styling. This, with a touch of the Asiatic, and even the frontier. Flowing printed silks and scarves met with structured lace gowns, tailored separates and even a see-through rubber half mac, while brocaded black lace spoke of a darker European sensibility. Leo’s collection has stepped off the silver screen, donned its travelling boots and taken to the four corners of the globe.

| Backstage at Leo and Lin |

Backstage, we spoke with Jo Smith, an Artistic Director for Toni & Guy Australia, and salon owner for Toni & Guy Georges, in Melbourne. ‘We’re working with clothes that are elegant, strong, and romantic. So that’s what we wanted to bring out in the hair. We’ve got three hair looks that we’re working with. Our first look is a soft wave, something that’s got a nice stressed feel to it, but looks effortless. Second, we’re working with a low ponytail that’s going to be a textured, dishevelled knot but again, working with a very soft outline, so you get that romantic feel coming through.’

‘Our third look is going to be more of a slick, lived-in and slightly grungier, but still a very beautiful, elegant feel. Working with a soft wave and working its structure and definition around the face.’

‘With the mood board, something that was very apparent were romantic, wispy, soft references. But something that still had a very strong structured feel to it, which I think is going to complement the Imperial collection so beautifully.’

Kelly Bowman was Makeup Director, with sponsorship from Natio. ‘I’m keeping all about the skin. It’s going to be pretty, femme, nice and dewy, and luminous. It’s going to be a soft focus on the eye. We want to really extend everyone’s eyes, but really softly. So we’re using really warm, natural tones. Earthy tones. The brands’ quite femme and soft, so we’re trying to keep it that.’


| Mariam Seddiq |

Mariam sent her Resort ’20 collection down the runway to the remixed strains of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’. The attitude conveyed was one of power chords, rock chic and glam. Silver and gold metallic fabrics met smooth tailoring, with the volume turned up to eleven. The styling harked to 80’s hard rock videos and a Motley Crue sensibility, but none more than the sheer black dress and blazer look, shown third in the order.

| Backstage at Mariam Seddiq |

Backstage, we spoke with Lara Srokowski of Lancome, who directed makeup for the show.

‘Today’s makeup look is all about empowering women, so we really wanted to empower the woman with their skin, and keep it really natural. Mariam Seddiq is all about women and empowerment, so we thought it was a perfect partnership with Lancome because that’s our mission as well. Then we’ve gone for quite an edgy twist of the eyes, to match the intensity and patterns and fun of the outfits. So we have that really structured, almost graphic eye; an architectural eyeliner really helps to add that pop to it.’

Diane Georgievski directed hair for Redken.

‘Today, the hair is based on that Parisian woman, that really lived in hair, beautiful texture, to really accentuate unbelievable gowns that are walking down the runway today. We want the hair to look effortless, but in fact it’s very structured. This is a complicated woman, but she wants to feel and look like she isn’t, and the hair needs to emulate that. Three days, four days strolling around, just absolutely sexy.’


| P.E Nation |

Resort ’20 marked P.E Nation’s first solo runway show, but the buzz surrounding the ath-leisurewear brand established by Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning has been bubbling up at ground level with a momentum spurred on by how readily women have been adopting this label; taking it to their hearts and wardrobes. This is street and sportswear equally adaptable to action or lounging, with a graphic presence and attitude that has seen it equally ratified by nightlife and subculture. Makeshift stadium bleachers were set up to seat audience members at the show, and the finale showcased a swimwear collaboration with Speedo which saw models walk out to bathe in an ‘aquatechnic’ indoor waterfall.

| Backstage at PE Nation |

Backstage, Carol Mackie, global artist for MAC Cosmetics took charge of makeup. We asked her about the concept. ‘So it’s really quite organic. Not really a contrived makeup, if you like. It’s organic in that we’re using product that is really a ‘staining’, so staining on the eyes, staining on the lips. Quite monochromatic in that we’re using rusty tones, earthy tones. But then what we’re doing is adding a touch of what you might call armour if you like. It builds strength in the inner corner [of the eye] with that little fleck of gold.’

Carol continues. ‘When you think about P.E. Nation, and the way they are, it’s quite a strong brand, but it’s still beautiful, and organic.’

Brad Mullins directed hair for Original Mineral. ‘I’m so inspired by the girls. I wanted to use cool girl texture, so I wanted diversity; wanted individuality with the girls. We’re going with a styling feel with a middle part, keeping it flat to the scalp, and some of the hair we’ll braid underneath, using our products in a creative way. We’ve created a bit of a wet look for the top, and the ends are going to be dry and very textured It’s just a kind of cool girl hair, which will echo the clothes.’


| Tigerlily |

This collection marked Tigerlily’s return to MBFWA after a 17-year hiatus. With the runway wet down with water, and tropical sounds filling the gallery, one could have been forgiven for thinking Tigerlily were about to send a swimwear show down the catwalk. Instead, the audience was met with a full collection of day to evening wear.  Tailoring featured, as did linen, sleek pant suits, ruffled skirts and subtle tropical detailing such as coconut buttons and minimalist white lily bouquets. Wardrobe staples in suede appeared alongside versatile layered dresses, all with an easy summer sensibility, true to the label’s core.


| Backstage at Tigerlily |

Backstage, we spoke with Lancome’s Lara Srokowski about the makeup look.

‘We’ve used our iconic Advanced Genifique Serum. We’ve actually layered an oil on top, to really amplify the glow on the skin, and then we’ve mixed the oil into the foundation as well, which manipulates the texture. Makes it a little bit more lightweight and glowing. I think the look here is effortless and beautiful. That glow really helps to compliment this collection, and I mean, when I was looking at the collection I could just imagine them wearing all these clothes on a beautiful summer holiday, so you know that skin is super important to compliment the collection.’

Lara hints at the ‘surprise’ Tigerlily were about to deliver to anyone expecting a swimwear collection.

‘Really beautiful linens and just such a beautiful collection. A bit different for Tigerlily, they were mentioning; there’s a lot of linen and quite simple, elegant clothes, so really beautiful.’

We chatted with John Pulitano, Hair Director with Goldwell, about the hair look for the show.

‘The inspiration for the look today was an ode to the ’40s and ’50s screen sirens, Lauren Bacall in particular. What we liked about what was that beautiful front wave that they used to have. Obviously we need to transport that into now, so we decided to go for a wet look as well, because we want to create that slightly tougher, sort of edgier girl.’

Less of a hairspray look?

‘Less of a hairspray look. Less of a beautiful look as well. We want to cut to the beauty, by using wet hair. We used a Double Boost, which is a spray volumizer onto the roots. Then we used the Curly Twist Surf Oil and dried that in. We used a little bit of wax on the roots, then we went through again and sprayed more Surf Oil in. Now we’re just putting some pins in, trying to keep them fairly high up near the crown area. Then we’ll just wet down the ends and just give it a bit of sheen before the girls walk out.’

John has recently made the shift to working with Goldwell, after being one of Redken’s mainstay Hair Directors for an age. In many ways, the change marks a new era in hair direction at Australian Fashion Week. We ask John about the move.

You were with Redken for how many years?

‘About 10.’

That’s a long time. Can we talk about that?

‘Yeah. Look, I just wanted a change. Ten years down the track, I felt like it was time… There’s so much product technology out there, I needed to have more. I’ve got a lot more now, in terms of Goldwell, and a lot of other [partner companies KMS and Kao] ranges as well.

A lot of new companies are coming into Fashion Week, sponsoring and doing hair at for the shows, where Redken was dominant for a very long time.

‘Yeah, Redken definitely were at the forefront of Fashion Week. I think these days, for a lot of companies, in terms of sponsorship dollars, they don’t always have the budgets they used to have years ago.’


| We Are Kindred |

Kindred returned to MBFWA with a new colour palette and a nomadic, bohemian look. Last year’s emphasis on florals, pinks and pastels had given way to subtler bespoke botanicals, and soft paisley prints. Black, white and gold were a feature, but the undoubted hero was a gorgeous bel air blue. Ever present were linen, cotton and silk in separates, dresses, and playsuits.

And that’s all she wrote.

The index finger that pressed the shutter button has triggered its last full-burst capture (and having written this article, moves on).

MBFWA is over for another year, leaving us all to ponder the mercurial, intersectional flashpoint between art and fashion, as we reflect on how we as Australians choose to adorn ourselves as an earthbound species in 2019/20.

Dust off your glad rags for another season and as you do, give a moments’ thought to exactly where the boundless talent and energy behind Australian fashion might take us this time next year.

Reef Gaha is an Australian photographer.

MBFWA is managed by IMG. Mercedes Benz is the naming rights sponsor.

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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.