By Jonathan Porter
South Australia excels in so many areas – the arts, wine, cuisine and its stunning natural beauty, to name a few – so why should its fashion endeavours be any different?
Happily, Adelaide’s stunning designers have threaded, laced and bustled their way to international success – with their frocks favoured by celebrities from former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins to the Hadids and Kardashians, and creations gracing red carpets from the Oscars to the SAG Awards, as the city emerges as a powerhouse of global fashion and creativity.
“Since its inception, the Adelaide Fashion Festival (AFF) has been a great event not just for fashion lovers, but for people who love creativity, innovation, music, design and South Australian culture,” says creative director Chris Kontos.
He says the Adelaide Fashion Festival presented by Mercedes-Benz Adelaide – held this year from October 11-15 – is being tailored to be accessible to everyone, with brands showcasing all iterations of style from couture to ready-to-wear designs.
“There are also tiered ticket prices and you can sit front row if you want to. This is a rare opportunity in the fashion industry,” says Kontos.
“And (our) new partnership with Myer, which includes an in-store parade on the 13th, and having Jennifer Hawkins come to Adelaide for the festival, is a really exciting opportunity,” he said of the Face of Myer, who has led trends and runways across the country for more than a decade and is a proud supporter of Australian fashion brands, including Adelaide-based label Acler.
Bravura spectacle alters city
Style maestro Kontos, who is helming the extravaganza for the second time after 2016’s bravura spectacle, says the AFF transforms the city.
“The city has a special air. There’s a real buzz around Adelaide from our bars, restaurants, food and wine to our local designers who are gaining more exposure and pushing the envelope with their innovative designs,” says Kontos.
“Adelaide has also been recognised as Australia’s Best Events State for two years running, so the word is spreading about Adelaide being a great location to enjoy major events of a world-class standard, and to visit generally.
“If you have always dreamed of attending a fashion week somewhere in the world and being front row for all the action, then Adelaide Fashion Festival presented by Mercedes-Benz Adelaide is for you. It’s accessible, it’s fun, it’s exciting and best of all Adelaide is an awesome place to spend a weekend – or more!”
While the program for the 2017 Adelaide Fashion Festival is still being developed, “there will certainly be signature runway shows that are of an international standard, we’ll be showcasing South Australian designers and labels and so much more.”
“We like to try something new and give the public a new experience to understand and engage with our local fashion and creative industries.
“Adelaide designers are always pushing themselves to think outside the box, experiment with new techniques and fabrications and push the limits of design.”
There will also be national brands featured on the runway to give local fashion followers a broader picture of the current style scene.
Encore performance for style supremo
Kontos says he has been lucky to work with so many brilliant creative minds – including truly unique and exciting labels based in Adelaide; from outstanding couture label Paolo Sebastian to the more contemporary feel of Acler.
“Then there are the unique hand-painted prints by Julie White or exquisite hand-crafted millinery by Sylvy Earl. We often bring different partners together who can achieve a new vision through their joint effort.”
You can also expect stalwart Australian Fashion Labels on the runway, including brands such as C/MEO Collective and Keepsake the Label, which was born in Adelaide 10 years ago and continues to be based there.
“They are setting trends globally with identities such as Bella Hadid and Kourtney Kardashian wearing their designs.”
Reflecting on last year’s festival – which included ten designer runways and 20 events – Kontos says there were many amazing moments.
“Having international star model/designer/agent Coco Rocha attend the festival, and walk the runway, was just incredible and a dream come true for Paolo Sebastian designer Paul Vasileff,” he says.
“The festival hub was incredible and there was a cool vibe about the entire program.
“From seeing our favourites such as Elizabeth V, Alexis George and Liza Emanuele alongside brands that made their runway debut like Namoi and Good Studios, it was awesome.”
Ongoing support for designers
He also points to the support Adelaide Fashion Festival and the State Government gives throughout the year to local designers to attend trade missions in cities such as Dubai, Mumbai, Jakarta and Paris.
“This really gives us a leg up in presenting our local industry to the world. This is the first step in building relationships and we hope that many retailers, industry influencers and media from overseas and interstate will then come to Adelaide to see what is happening on the ground.”
And after the shows, where can fashionistas closet themselves to go for a drink, a meal and maybe even have a chance to rub shoulders with designers and models?
“The Adelaide Fashion Festival is fun, friendly and accessible and it’s a great time for fashion lovers or event lovers to come and mingle with industry and to experience a runway show up close.
“The event hub is still in development but we are blessed in Adelaide to be surrounded by good food, amazing restaurants and bars and very talented producers and chefs throughout the city and beyond. Food and beverage will always be part of our story.”
The Festival’s program will be available in August, which is also when you will be able to buy tickets.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are located at Adelaide Airport.