How To Win At Fashion

As seen at last night's Australian Fashion Laureate

You’re not going to like it… there is no quick fix. “Is there nothing she cannot do?” whispered the awestruck fashion crowd as Margaret Zhang, home from New York where she’s now based, took her seat at a grand piano and played the score to her new fashion film “There’s No Space Left In C# Minor”. 

Photographer, stylist, super-blogger, cover girl, the Australian polymath has now turned her hand to film director and musician. And it seems effortless. How can we get some of this happening in our own lives? What’s her hot tip?

Alas, the answer is hard slog. The effortless thing is just for show! She’s been playing piano since she was a tot, taught herself photography at 12 and started her Shine By Three blog at 16. So at 24, she’s been already working in fashion for eight years.

margaret zhang australian fashion laureate

Zhang’s performance last night opened a grand dinner for the 10th Australian Fashion Laureate awards in Sydney’s Barangaroo. The industry veterans honoured proved winning at work-life involves a particular formula. Show up, make serious effort, repeat. For a decade at least.

Dion Lee won this year’s Laureate, which celebrates professionals whose careers have promoted and advanced the Australian fashion industry internationally, and is truly a distinct honour as they are voted for by a panel of industry peers. His first fashion week show was in 2009.

Dinosaur Designs, by Stephen Ormandy and Louise Olsen, took out the Best Australian Accessories gong. Ormandy quipped that as a kid in art school he’d expected instant fame and fortune. “How wrong I was!” They started out over 30 years ago with a stall at Sydney’s Paddington Markets.

aus fashion laureate winners

Best Australian Womenswear went to the Zimmermann sisters, who’ve been working on their fashion dream since 1991. As Nicky Zimmermann told me a few seasons ago after one her New York fashion week shows, “We’ve been working hard of years, it hasn’t been a rush. This is what I do, I’m not going to do anything else, so we keep working and plugging away.”

The menswear award went to slow fashion heroes Jac + Jack, who have been beautifully crafting their discrete knits and basics since 2004.

As for winners of Etihad Airways’ Emerging Talent Award, turns out Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning of P.E Nation, which was launched in 2016, aren’t newcomers after all. Edwards worked for Ksubi until 2009 then went to Sass & Bide, where Tregoning also worked as a designer.

Want to win a Fashion Laureate? Start work now for 2026.

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