A model showcases designs by Roopa Pemmaraju on the catwalk on day four of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Spring/Summer 2012/13. Photo: Getty Images
From longstanding legends of Australian design to style rookies, designers showing at Australian Fashion Week yesterday came from across the experience spectrum.
Fashion veteran Jenny Kee left crowds of showgoers gobsmacked at her designs' colours and array of prints that took their cue from the beauty of Australia's natural world.
Kee said of her career in fashion: ''All I wanted was to create a national identity in fashion, or a national Australian style.
''That started with pure wool, hand-knitted koala knits in 1974. Fast forward to 1980 and my silks. I sing the joy of my country in my artwork, which goes on to silk, my preferred medium.''
Kee, a Blue Mountains dweller, derived inspiration from bushland, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.
''This landscape is art for me. The flowers in this country are so exotic and extraordinary, the animals are so incredible.''
Kee said the secret to longevity in the Australian fashion industry was quite simple: ''If you do things from the heart and do them with passion, the creativity will flow.''
The fashion industry newbies showing yesterday included the designers of the New Generation show, and selected student designers of TAFE Sydney Institute.
Of the students presenting as part of The Innovators show, Kaylene Milner was singled out, awarded a $15,000 scholarship and praised for securing the tutelage of the American designer Diane von Furstenberg. She is one of five Australians who are to intern with the designer renowned for her wrap dresses.
Other labels causing a stir yesterday included swimwear brand We Are Handsome, which showed photo-printed pieces, often featuring the faces of wild creatures, and Roopa Pemmaraju, who was inspired by Aboriginal art. Pemmaraju's original fabric designs were created by indigenous artists of the Co-ee Art Gallery, Desert Designs and Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation.