Just when we’re contemplating fashion fatigue (it’s been a long week on the MBFWA f’row), along come Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, the design duo behind Romance Was Born, to remind us why we love it.
For its beauty, creativity, exuberance. For the fact that, in the right hands, a fashion show can be a fabulous party.
Working again with two-time Archibald Prize winning artist Del Kathryn Barton (who allowed them to turn her paintings into prints for their first three collections), this time the pair stepped up the craftsmanship turning Barton’s art into lavishly embellished dresses, bodysuits and a wedding gown.
Inspiration came, they say, from “ethereal disco nymphs… [and] the fragility of the feminine spirit, via intricate beaded gowns, dripping with rainbow sequins, Swarovski crystals, fringing, Lurex and feathers.” Oh, and unicorns. Because why not? One lilac ruffled look was accessorised with an alicorn.
Barton was backstage herself, hand-painting the cryptic feminist slogans which replaced clothes for models Ollie Henderson and Brooke Durrant. (Who needs a dress anyway, when you’ve got one of Alan White’s extraordinary couture wigs to cover your modesty?)
Collaboration is key to pulling off such a spectacle. The red mirrored runway was designed by genius theatre set designer Alice Babidge, with giant floral installations worthy of an old school Yves Saint Laurent couture show.
The designers called on all their “creative wizard” mates, from stylists Mark Vassallo (described in a recent newspaper profile as the Martin Scorsese of Australian fashion) and Peter Simon Phillips to makeup artist Natasha Severino, who dusted the girls in disco glitter. Jan Logan did the jewellery. Paul Mac and Jonny Seymour, the music. The designers’ muse Jenny Kee was on hand to sprinkle praise and extra glamour. It takes a village. And a unicorn.