Monday, March 24, 2014

Highlights of the VAMFF

If you saw a woman tottering about today with bandaids on her heels and a certain fatigued look in her eyes, you'd know she was just another one of the fashion-weary who happily survived one of the best fashion festival weeks in recent history. Here, then, are some of the highlights: 

Monty Cox - newly platinum! - and Jess Gomes strutted their stuff on the catwalk for the Opening Event, presented by David Jones. 

There was not a person who wasn't wowed by The Grand Showcase Featuring Camilla, where live musicians thrummed a beat to the amazing visuals. Although Georgia May Jagger had to pull out of the show after their family tragedy, Monty (Montana) Cox stepped in, and the crowd were behind Camilla all the way. It was a new Camilla, too: new shapes, with an edgier, more rock 'n roll feel. Loved, loved it. 

Designer Camilla (right) takes congrats on the runway. 

The Tiffany & Co. National Designer Award, presented by Harper's Bazaar (editor Kellie Hush is pictured) is always a must-attend: not only is the Tiffany setting glorious, but lots of heavyweights in the fashion industry attend. (Editors Hush and InStyle's Kirsten Galliott among them, as well as designers such as Toni Maticevski.) The award has been given to Maticevski, Josh Goot, Dion Lee and Yeojin Bae in the past, so it's considered a very prestigious one. This year's winner(s)? Strateas Carlucci. 

Even the finalists were winners: models wearing Pageant at the Tiffany & Co. National Designer Award presentation. 

It's always special to step into Christine Barro's store (Christine) in the city, and part of VAMFF's cultural program included The Christine Edit, a curation of fashion collectibles by Adrian Lewis, Christopher Graf, Martin Grant, Maticevski and Nora Kogan. I, meanwhile, tried on everything in the store, including the Dita Von Teese see-through trench that Lydia Schiavello modelled in an earlier episode of The Real Housewives of Melbourne. Couldn't resist. Here, model Sophie Van Den Akker models some of the wares. 

At The Christine Edit, I also met the lovely Russian-born Nora Kogan, a jeweller who creates the most interesting pieces - breast and bottom rings among them, as well as a lip bracelet. Here, she shows off her creativity. 

Sigh. More Christine wonderment. 

Special mention has to go to Shiva Singam, who reprised his role as the always-gracious Door Bitch (I do think that's an official title) at VAMFF's VIP bar.  It was worth trying to get through that velvet rope just to see what magnificent outfit he had conjured up that day. For that reason, I must include two photos! 

Got to see what Simply Vera was all about, by Vera Wang...

As usual, the very sight of Docklands drew people in. Here, live mannequins. 

I often liked to see what people were wearing. They don't disappoint. 

And finally, Government House's closing party. Beautiful night for it. 

Two stalwarts of the festival: the inimitable Janice Breen Burns of who still provides fashion folk with the best writing around, and blogger Phoebe Montague, of Lady Melbourne. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

L'Oreal's An Evening With Eva - VAMFF

A very exclusive event that was part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival was An Evening With Eva, presented by L'Oreal, where fellow L'Oreal spokeswoman Megan Gale hosted a Q&A with actress Longoria at restaurant Vue De Monde. Here from the US, Longoria kept the crowd entertained, with funny stories. She said that growing up with sisters, she was actually the ugly duckling - while her sisters were blonde, she was dark, and strangers would compliment her mother on her lovely daughters. "Oh, what beautiful girls," they would remark, before turning to Eva and saying, "And who is this....?" Designer Camilla Franks had a long chat with Eva - the only runway show that Eva attended was Camilla's showcase parade, which packed a punch, too. 

Jonny and Camilla Franks

Melanie Vallejo

Eva Longoria chatting to Camilla

I'm thinking Eva does pilates

Helen O'Conner and friend both in Helen's label Thurley
MC Megan Gale

Eva Longoria

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kookai AW14 Collection, State of Mind

The Kookai runway shows are always glamorous and memorable, and the AW14 Collection, State of Mind, fit that bill. What kind of beauty could compete with the grandness of the Royal Exhibition Building venue? That would be Australian model Nicole Trunfio, flown in from New York, as well as local girls such as Samantha Harris and Amanda Ware. (Note to Foxtel subscribers: you simply have to watch The Face Australia when it starts this week, starring Nicole Trunfio. Amazing.) 

Kookai founders Danielle Vagner and Rob Cromb know how to throw a party, and attendees included Rachael Finch, Frances Abbott, Nadia Bartel, Samantha Downie and Jessie Habermann. It was a worthy start of a crazy Melbourne season, just heading the Grand Prix and VAMFF this week. 

Nicole Trunfio. Love her. 

Samantha Harris. Ditto. 

Frances Abbott and Rachael Finch

Jessie Habermann 

Sophie Van Den Akker

Em Rusciano and Lyndon McGauchie 
Tahan Lew Fatt from Big Brother

Kookai's Danielle Vagner

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tag Heuer Cocktail Party

The Tag Heuer cocktail party unofficially heralds the start of the Grand Prix madness - and it's always an event that stands out. This year was no exception: Tag Heuer ambassador and Formula 1 champion Jenson Button made a special appearance, and there were plenty of other stars in the galaxy: actor Guy Pearce, Olympic snowboarder Torah Bright and countless reality TV stars: Chyka and Bruce Keebaugh (The Real Housewives of Melbourne), plenty of My Kitchen Rules folks (Josh & Danielle, Harry, Helena & Vikki) and Tim Robards (The Bachelor).

Erika Heynatz shares a giggle with Jenson Button

Guy Pearce

Bree Laughlin

Helena and Vikki, My Kitchen Rules

Torah Bright and Jenson Button 
Chyka Keebaugh
Torah Bright, Lydia Lassila, Catriona Rowntree, Tim Robards, Sam Mac

New bride Nadia Bartel with friend Kelly McBride

Olympians Torah Bright and Lydia Lassila

Guy Pearce, Neighbours/ Home & Away actor Kip Gamblin and pal

Thurley's Helen O'Connor, Rachel Hayes and blogger Tessa-Jay Slight

DJs The Faders

Photos by Kristian Dowling

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Asahi Silver Sessions Launch

Asahi Silver Sessions is a great idea: it's a platform for acclaimed artists to share their secret ingredient to life and inspire other people. At the launch (held on The Deck at Circa), a trio of people spoke: publisher Nick Smith, tailor Tom Riley and the Big Gun - actor Gabriel Macht, from TV's Suits. The idea was that each speaker would present their ideas in the traditional Japanese form of storytelling that originated in Buddhist temples in the 12th Century, thus paying homage to the heritage of Asahi Super Dry brand. Macht won over the audience from the start, not least of all because of his Aussie connection - he's married to actress Jacinda Barrett who gave birth to their second child, son Luca, less than two weeks before. There were a few jokes for the crowd - Macht said that his mother-in-law's version of a compliment was to compare him to Bert Newton - but plenty to inspire, too. He said that he and his onscreen alter-ego, Harvey Specter, share an ability to "focus, pushing through our insecurity and self-doubt. Most of all we are persistent - some might say stubborn - but we both persist through failure." 

The next Asahi Silver Sessions will take place at Luke Mangan’s restaurant Mojo in Waterloo,Sydney, on Wednesday 2 April.