A collective of unknown designers banded together for a memorable VAMFF show


A look back at The Unknown Designers’ showcase from Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Tucked within The Abbotsford Convent between a myriad of brick and cobblestone buildings, I found my way to The Unknown Designers’ show. Stepping into a room lined with intricate stained glass windows, decorated with branches, leaves and native florals, the excitement was palpable.

Showing as part of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s independent program, The Unknown Designers is, as the name suggests, a collective of recent fashion design graduates who describe themselves as only having their creativity in common. With ample time for grazing and chatting before the show began, I eventually settled into my seat eager to find out a little more about the designers.

The show kicked off with a combined effort from the team behind streetwear brand, Stay Calm. Head designers, Nura and Chris, sent a series of heavily branded and logocentric pieces down the runway, reminding the audience to ‘Stay Calm’ on every chest, back and sleeve. Channelling a utilitarian aesthetic with chunky buckles, harness bags and roping, the designers tapped into the idea of intelligent activewear blurring the lines between leisure and streetwear.

With Alexandra Beahan’s collection, the show began to steer away from in-your-face branding and towards more natural tones, textures and silhouettes. The collection opened with a navy longline vest with a tie at the front on top of a white shirt and loose slacks, all made from natural linens and fabrics, setting the earthy tone for the remainder of the pieces.

Next to hit the runway was Florella Pavillion’s collection titled Adelph, which featured interesting silhouettes and masterful fabric manipulation. Pavillion’s attention to detail was clear, with design features like corseted waists, asymmetric hemlines and cropped oversized blazers at the forefront of the display.

A particularly interesting look included a pair of pants that jutted away slightly from the hips which accentuated an oversized lower hip – a shape not usually flattering on the body, but somehow it worked. The final look was an ensemble I could realistically see myself wearing – a huge oversized blazer paired with wide-leg flowing pants to boot. It ticked all the boxes for me.

Closing the show was Shenali Perera, who threw it back to the ’80s with her graduate collection. There was gold glitter, exaggerated shoulders, crop tops, wide-leg pants and a navy and gold jumpsuit fit for Cleopatra. Contrasting bold oranges sat next to deep navy and bright gold tones, proving you can go big and bold without looking too costumey.

In contrast to the ancient buildings and church-y setting, the show was a nod to the future of design – an ode to branding, leisurewear and an appreciation for natural tones, materials and shapes.


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