On a crisp and bright Monday morning, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week kicked off with not a runway extravaganza, but an emotionally charged Welcome to Country, featuring soulful sounds and traditional dancers from Muggera Cultural Enterprise. It was the first of its kind in AFW's 25-year history, and a harbinger of exciting Indigenous fashion talent to be spotlighted in the coming week.
Then came the first show of the season: Jordan Dalah, Central Saint Martins graduate and rising sartorial star – who opened with a bang. Models not so much strutted but strode the maze-like catwalk to the deep vibrating beats of Mitchell Tolman, dressed in high-impact hooped skirts, bulbous gowns, puffy sleeves that could double as pillows, dresses decked out with larger-than-life bows and avant-garde headwear.
Since launching his label in 2018, Dalah has played with historical codes - particularly the Tudor and Victorian periods - and his mastery of volume and exaggerated silhouettes were the tenets of today’s autumn/winter 2022 showing. The collection sits at the intersection between fashion and costumery, melding a high dose of drama with impressive architectural craftsmanship (no surprise that Dalah trained as an architect before turning his attention to fashion).
Model Georgia Fowler, pregnant and glowing, closed the show in a billowing floral dress, hair teased into a wild bouffant, her presence commanding the room. But nothing was to outdo the clothes, nor outshine Dalah's AFW debut. This is the new guard of Australian fashion, and the future looks bright.