The Last Sitting...................................Kate Sylvester, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, Sydney

Friday, April 19, 2013

Famed actresses and Americana were the clear propositions announced in Kate Sylvester's Spring Summer 2013/2014 runway presentation. And nothing speaks of Hollywood more than scenes of sets backstage, mirrors laced in lightbulbs and frantic staff milling around starlets.

Such a world was exactly what I found when led into the passageways of Carriageworks to preview the collection entitled; The Last Sitting. Here Kate was directing her own LA story by preparing her models to play a character; a new Marilyn Monroe, a contemporary one.

I quickly started sketching all the imagery that whirls past so quickly on the runway; shoes, skirts, makeup and hair. This glimpse backstage gave me information to fuel my drawings but also insight into the story and inspiration underpinning the collection.

The bright lights of the runway set created the atmosphere of Bert Stern's photographic studio, whose legendary images of Monroe set the colour pallet for the collection; skin tones, lipstick pink and pearl.

As the models practiced their exits, I took in the collection; here translucent organza skirts and rose embroidery give the collection the femininity Marilyn dreams up. But masculine bomber jackets (albeit studded in gold stars), sporty caps and the use of leather throughout the collection reminded me of the actress's complexity and ambiguity. These signifiers perhaps noting her loneliness and of course the consequence: the ever present men.

In The Last Sitting Kate takes the emblems of these lovers and pairs them with the signatures of the starlet. Building a contemporary wardrobe that speaks of this complexity, rather than just a Hollywood daydream. Joe Dimaggio's baseball mitt is transformed into leather jackets and skirts with its cross-stitched detailing even reaching the boots.

Kennedy's knits and Arthur Miller's button down shirts are present, but its the tan baseball leather that dominates. This dramatic contrast to the feminine details propel the collection, and harks back to that very Hollywood tale of dark meeting light.