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The final Town Hall Runway closed MFW with a literal bang

Words by Christina Karras and Sasha Gattermayr

Good reputations.

After a week filled with unorthodox and innovative runways, we returned to the comforts of the Town Hall to see Australian industry giants showcase their new arrivals.

The finale opened with a video montage featuring the various faces of Fashion Week explaining their individual definitions of diversity – “diversity means not one thing, but everything” – to cement MFW’s efforts to have inclusivity front and centre.

Manning Cartell seemed to be telling us the 2000s are well and truly back, by way of their one-shoulder dresses with diamanté detailing, and acid-wash denim dresses. Ochre brown and peach-toned blazer and shorts sets were a pleasant modern inclusion, complemented by the unmistakable reflective surfaces of Poppy Lissiman sunglasses and tiny bags.

These short skirts, plunging necklines and figure-clinging fabrics were not designed with a diverse range of body shapes in mind, and I was reminded of the outrage Hedi Slimane elicited when he debuted his ‘new Celine’ collection at Paris Fashion Week last year. Not only was it far more Saint Laurent than Celine, but the barely-clad models were not dressed in the kinds of clothes women actually want to wear. They reflected an outdated version of how women should look, and Manning Cartell’s offering instilled me with the same confusion.

However, Arnsdorf and bassike salvaged that unease. The former showcased a collection filled with gingham trenches, lavender pantsuits, and its classic Pearl top. By sending a shirred lemon-hued dress down the runway, the brand proved you could nod to a decade without simply replicating it.

bassike was artful with its layering, pairing longline sheer knits over wide-leg satin leisure pants. The contrasting fabrics were simple but invigorating, and the designs were clean and functional.

The two brands opened with Robyn Lawley and closed with Jess Quinn, both of whom spoke alongside Chelsea Bonner on the Fashion Forum panel on diversity and inclusion on Monday. While models from a range of different ethnicities walked the runway, it would have been exciting to see more visible representations of body diversity present beyond big modelling names. It’s a difficult assertion to make when so many minority characteristics are not visible (class, sexuality, religion, disability etc.), and when the festival has done an incredible job at contributing to the dialogue. It’s a big step in the right direction and I look forward to next year’s festival which can build even further on this foundation.

White Story was Grecian with its resort-style silver dresses, and the flowing sheer dresses with ruffled tiers were equal parts Aphrodite and influencer-in-Mykonos.

Viktoria & Woods kept its designs long-line and slightly androgynous, layering full-length dresses over straight-leg pants, and sleeveless blazers in neutral colours.

The best looks from show closer Scanlan Theodore, were cropped blazer jackets with wide cuffs and sheer A-line skirt suits. The sequinned bubble skirts left me cold, and the diamanté-encrusted power shoulders were the bad kind of 2009 Balmain.

To the soundtrack of Beyonce’s ‘Girls’, MFW closed with a bang – literally – as metallic confetti burst from a cannon. Models formed a V-formation at the apex of the runway as the silver glitter rained down around them, and the crowd cheered.

It had certainly been a show.

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