From Hungarian embroidery to regrets over a discarded childhood toy, designers showing on day three of Australian Fashion Week yesterday had diverse sources of inspiration.
Designer Kym Ellery showed an array of rich emeralds and crimsons, sheer organzas and ultra cute hats with rounded teddy bear ears in the collection that paid homage to a cherished childhood toy that she threw away in her late teens.
Ellery took her design cues from the shape of her bear, hence the cartoonishly large sleeves and cuts inspired by the toy's belly.
In a struggling industry, she said fashion designers had to be sure to ''say something different''.
Alice McCall dialled up the sweet factor with a collection that evoked the cute appeal of Russian nesting dolls. Organza was layered over bright florals which echoed the folksy feel of Hungarian embroidery. There were also contrast sleeves, shimmering beaded details and a certain doll-like innocence throughout, down to the peasant braids and headscarves on the models' heads.
McCall said finishing the show had left her exhausted but feeling great. It was the culmination of five months' work for the designer who saluted the efforts of her team, including Vogue Australia fashion editor Meg Gray who styled the show.
McCall is part of Australian fashion's stylish baby boom: she had her four-year-old running around backstage with her, offering to dress the models, and another child is due in August.
She said being a designer and a mother balanced her.
''You have to be more practical and organised.''
Asked about the challenges of running a label in the current economic climate, McCall said her label had enjoyed controlled growth: it had picked up two prominent international stockists and was to open a Melbourne boutique. ''The economic climate is like a pruning or cleaning process. Labels get cut down and it leaves room for others to grow.''
Australian fashion stalwart Lisa Ho kicked off day three of Australian Fashion Week with a show at the Art Gallery of NSW. She took her cues from the theatricality of the Ballet Russes for her spring-summer collection that featured colours as bold as those in a paintbox. The prints were fresh, leafy and resort-worthy.
Also yesterday, venerable Australian accessories label Oroton, established in 1938, presented its first ready-to-wear collection. It showed clothes with a 1970s vibe: at times like what a grown-up Marcia Brady would wear, at times disco-tastic and sequined.