Horse flesh and haute couture dominate the Melbourne Cup. Against strong form, architecture has become more prominent with increasingly elaborate marquee designs. Now Lexus is putting its money on design more broadly. It's taken the inside track with the obvious, though consistently clever, theme of ''motion''.
Yesterday, in the lead-up to the Cup, it launched two sponsorship programs at RMIT's Design Hub. The Lexus Design Awards are an international competition open to any designer. A supercharged judging panel, including MoMA design curator Paola Antonelli, Spanish designer Jaime Hayon and Japanese architect Toyo Ito, will select 10 finalists with two entries receiving 5 million yen ($60,000) each for prototype costs. British designer Sam Hecht and Japanese architect Junya Ishigami will act as mentors.
Lexus has also announced a $60,000 Australian design scholarship overseen by Melbourne Movement founder Kjell Grant. To underline its turbocharged commitment, design impresario Robert Buckingham has curated 24 Australian showponies — including Susan Cohn, Adam Goodrum, Simone LeAmon and Helen Kontouris — at Lexus’ three-storey Melbourne Cup marquee. Redolent with horsepower, the Cup launch may be subliminal branding at its best.
Home to 16 of Australia's Prime Ministers, it's no wonder The Lodge needs a reno. Unfortunately for Julia Gillard it has occurred while her own Altona home undergoes work. Nevertheless, as part of the capital's centenary celebrations, a new competition is under way to redesign the Prime Minister's Canberra digs completely. It even gets a new address with a better view of Lake Burley Griffin. The idea behind the grand design competition is to showcase the ''creativity and depth of talent of Australia's designers''. It will be officially launched on Australia Day next year. Entries close in May 2013, the anniversary of Prime Minister Stanley Bruce's house-warming. He and his wife, Ethel, moved into the official residence on May 4, 1927. Despite a jury and prizemoney, the competition warns that the new residence may remain unbuilt. But the Gallery of Australian Design will mount an exhibition of the submissions.
Charlotte Smith has penned two books on the vintage clothing collection she inherited from her Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell. However, the latest exhibition curated from the Darnell Collection's 200 years of costumery and its 5500 pieces, focuses on fiction.
While literature has inspired the exhibition Fashion meets Fiction, they aren't literal examples from such filmed adaptations of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind or Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Nevertheless the exhibition promises to have period pieces contemporaneous with such heroines as Scarlett O'Hara and Holly Golightly.
Alongside the exhibition, two accompanying talks feature Charlotte Smith discussing her books on the collection: Dreaming of Dior and Dreaming of Chanel.
And, in another lunchtime lecture, Marion Boyce, costume designer of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, will speak about the wardrobe she created for Kerry Greenwood's fictional detective Phryne Fisher.
Fashion meets Fiction, Burrinja Cultural Centre, Upwey, November 9-February 17.