Proving fashion week in Australia is far from dull, the dynamic duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born presented their Resort 2017 collection at the historic Carthona estate on Sydney Harbour. Entitled 'Whispering Angel' the collection was a cataclysmic celebration of stage presence, feathers and silk prints culminating in heavily embellished sheer floor length dresses. Luke and Anna have really pushed the envelope in terms of over the top glamour and brought Liberace to the runway. Having studied geology as my major in college I was practically bouncing off the walls after catching sight of a floor length Malachite silk print dress. The cocktail gowns and dresses were definitely the highlight of the presentation, merely amplified by the richness of the prestigious venue among fine art, wooden staircases, and stunning Gothic decor. Tightly coiled curls, teased hair and pouting lips added to the extravagance of the presentation, with the occasional skull cap and pill box hat amplifying the call to yesteryear and old school Hollywood glamour. Or rather the heat, noise and madness of the Las Vegas strip.
Admittedly the majority of Australian contemporary fashion designers have made a habit of playing it safe, occasionally tweaking a silhouette or circulating through different digital prints. For those who love clean design, it's a utopian society but as someone who consciously seeks our colour and texture I generally find the whole affair to be a bore. However, Romance Was Born have continually challenged the status quo and this season delivered opulence by way of rhinestone encrusted dresses, feather festooned cocoon jackets and the ruffles aplenty. The caveat is that from afar Romance Was Born doesn't appear wearable, but I can assure you as someone who has a number or archive pieces cloistered in her closet nothing could be further from the truth. They are not only wearable but the detail on the embellished dresses is truly spectacular. More importantly, Luke and Anna understand how to translate the aesthetic of their runway presentations to ready to wear and make them available at different price points. The market is currently saturated with fast fashion which is unfortunately rather bland, whereas this Australian designer create pieces which are pure fantasy and make a serious statement.
Attending a Romance Was Born presentation is an immersive experience, with last season's runway show showered in a mist of Eucalyptus oil while the sounds of the Australian bush filled the air. Without attending this show in person I have no idea what tunes played but I did notice the cocktails poised in the hands of some of the models as they graced the wooden stairways of this prestigious house in a nod to Liberace's lavish lifestyle. The dichotomy between drink glasses and satiny elbow length gloves, as well as fur lined slippers in collaboration with Beau Coops added masculine touches to an otherwise ultra feminine collection. Although there have been previous collaborations with Beau Coops, none seem as fitting as Resort 2017 where famed entertainer Liberace was re-imagined as a woman. Fittingly, the central tenet of Beau Coops as a brand is the reconciliation of a Beau or stylish man with the philosophy of namesake designer Carrie Cooper who is still, largely inspired by her former East London home. The chief result is a unisex label embodying what Cooper refers to as 'boyfriend chic'.