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Sass & Bide return to Sydney Fashion Week with a confused collection

We really, really wanted it to be a triumphant return.

The most anticipated runway on the schedule this year at MBFWA was the return of an iconic Aussie brand that has found its way into almost everyone’s wardrobe at one point or another: Sass & Bide.

For those who aren’t aware of the tumultuous history of the once-obsessed over brand, the original founders and designers Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton left the label in 2014 after Myer acquired a 65 per cent stake. Since then, the design leadership has waned significantly.

Now, after a few years working hard behind the scenes, the design team has been pulling the “rudderless ship” (quote from an attendee) back on course, slowly but surely. This is a label that, in itself, knows it is living in the shadows of a former glory.

Everyone attending (that I spoke to) really, really WANTED it to be a triumphant return. However, everyone attending also thought it would probably be a flop. In reality, for me, it was somewhere in between.

There were certainly high points. Sandy glitter-drenched sheaths and textural black and white pieces that were at once deconstructed and floating delivered the progression I was searching for from the label. Bringing their signature over-embellishment down a notch for 2017, it felt current and informed.

There were a few ‘throwback’ pieces that attempted to rework the modern tribal aesthetic so closely associated with Sarah-Jane and Heidi’s legacy, but they didn’t quite hit the mark.

And there were some pieces that just simply didn’t make sense – to the brand, to the rest of the runway, even to 2017. In particular, rainbow-pleated metallic pieces paired with glitter-bomb accents felt incredibly out of place next to clean-line, structured, monochrome modernity with floating cutouts. Which then felt out of place next to liquidy, luxurious, gold palazzo pants.

It was all a bit confusing, really. The theme was meant to be ‘Fiesta Barcelona’, but instead of a cohesive take on the theme by one label, it felt like a group show à la VAMFF.

And with five people from the label exiting at the end of the show to claim the patchwork applause, it’s really no surprise that it was lacking in focus.

Sass & Bide’s future as a trendsetting label? All I can say is, stay tuned.

Follow Bianca’s journey through approximately 435 runways at MBFWA over at @_thesecondrow.

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