Wonderland..............................Easton Pearson, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, Carriageworks, Sydney

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lewis Carroll's Alice finds herself washed ashore on the banks of Wonderland and right in the middle of an outrageous Caucus-Race. My trip to Australian Fashion Week was much the same: racy and extravagant at Sydney's Carriageworks. A fine swim at Coogee's sea baths prior to the shows added to the atmosphere of being awash in another world. Like in the seawater, colours flashed by on the runway and in the surrounding fashion-pack.

As in Wonderland, Fashion Week has many doors to pass through to gain access to the actual work on show. Once you pass through one door, there is another, and then another, all different sizes and some with guards. I tried my best to shrink through the hierarchy, making it back stage and to my seat towards the back of the audience. But thanks to the wonderful help of stylist Lesley Crawford my adventure in Sydney really took off and I was promoted to the front row.

From the Caucus to the Royal Court! The front row at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is hallowed ground for fashion editors, power-bloggers, stylists and celebrities. I was nervous sitting there and very aware of the wonderful performance of the guests around me, a show that is often more important than the actual collection presented. However not so for Easton Pearson’s vibrant collection HyperReal.

As staff peeled back the plastic sheets concealing the catwalk, DJ Jonny Seymour built an intense atmosphere with Zoe Keating's eery track Into the Trees, and so the ritual began. A wild parade of courtiers flowed onto the runway in a collection brimming in colour, beaded details and couture-like volume. Like Carroll's classic tale this collection was timeless and untouched by contemporary trends. It was a unique take on dressing, refined by the designers Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton, who have based their label in Brisbane since 1989.

If the collection was untouched by contemporary trends, I could still see its place on the street and in contemporary life. Magical in style and production but not out-of-this-world in terms of practicality, so I am inspired to post drawings of real people I’ve seen wearing related looks. Australia may seem far from Paris but viewing this collection in the flesh felt everything like the experience of Haute CoutureSydney was exotic, bright and full of optimism, but HyperReal was an even grander Wonderland.