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Sheer drama at the Chinatown Street Runway

Images by Lucas Dawson Photography
Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

This was not a subtle showcase.

Melbourne’s CBD is full of so many different nooks and crannies, it makes perfect sense to utilise them all for compelling street runways.

This year, Melbourne Fashion Week set up two runways in Chinatown, nestled off the main street in Chinatown Plaza. And, in the glow of red lanterns surrounded by a host of delicious smells, the first show of the night delivered three different but equally striking collections from MFW first-timers from across Asia.

Li Chang started off the evening with an incredibly romantic display. Strong, tailored suiting was elevated by floating tulle trains, cleverly zipped into the backs of jackets with visible metal hardware. A standout of the night was a dress with a pared back black bodice, cascading into a purple tulle skirt and matching sleeves that melted together as the model walked. Touches like a sheer lace bodycon dress with an oversized hood or a veiled, wide brim white hat served to keep things interesting and unexpected.

Next up, The Lethe’s collection focused heavily on contrast and surprise. Mini short co-ords were followed by skirts with billowing, mullet-esque trains, and textiles ranged from luxe satins and mesh to denim and PVC. Emphasising this common thread was the label’s chosen colour palette. The collection jumped easily between white and yellow denim jackets or mixed-fabric collared shirts to black tailored jackets and retro-looking pinafores, and again to soft, draping blush pinks and shiny ivory.

Closing the night with sheer drama was Mary Ma, presenting a collection that was part matador, part Greek goddess, and part Assassin’s Creed character. Exaggerated silhouettes with huge shoulders and high collars were embellished with an enthusiastic hand and topped off with capes, oversized hats and beautifully crafted gloves. Each piece had a new wow factor, whether it was an asymmetrical jacket-vest, fully fringed capelet, or a gown decked out with a giant, wispy silver horse.

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