After having spent a few weeks out on a dinosaur dig (amazing discoveries, but not a super glamorous experience) I’ve come to appreciate just how important clothes are to me as part of my creative expression. The process of getting up at first light and getting dressed in jeans, steel cap boots and a work shirt every day makes me yearn for crazy and spectacular clothing. At the moment the more adventurous the design, the better and within Australia there are very few labels which can compete with the likes of Romance Was Born. My own wardrobe includes a silk printed dress, a skirt made from fine lace chain links and a Disney fantasia silk printed jacket. That’s not even half of it, and I am constantly searching for archive pieces on eBay to add to my wardrobe.
It should come as no surprise that I’m absolutely biased and unabashed when it comes to expressing my love for Romance Was Born. Since 2005 Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett have created wild and wonderful pieces, that have captured the imagination of audiences from Australia and across the globe. Their Bush Magic collection presented at the National Gallery of Victoria was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever shared with a small cathedral full of strangers. Since then every presentation has been in Sydney and this season, Electro Orchid saw a series of etheral disco nymphs, and pink Madonna bride strut down the runway, set to the tune of Donna Summer’s song, ‘I feel love’. With neon lights and sculptural floral arrangements it felt like stepping into the wildest party at some anonymous casino in Las Vegas, with a hint to the art lovers and culture seekers of course.
Intense colours and a penchant for graphic design have become a signature of the Australian duo, and their Resort 2018 collection, which closed the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia was no exception. Last season’s muse was Liberace’s daughter, and featured baroque prints on silk, extravagant sequins and feathers in every colour you can imagine. This season was a theatrical disco which saw the return of artist Del Kathryn Barton, who Romance Was Born have collaborated with in the past. In fact, the first three collections were made collaboratively with Del, and for Resort 2018 they’ve employed the artist’s work to create some of the shows standouts including an embellished skirt featuring one of Del’s signature waifish and ethereal figures.
In case her name doesn’t ring a bell, she’s the winner of the 2008 and 2013 Archibald prize winner for her self-portrait with her two daughters, and portrait of Hugo Weaving respectively. While I am uneasy with the depiction of such thin and underweight individuals as a reoccurring theme throughout her body of work, it is a perfect marriage with Romance Was Born who treat their clothes like a blank canvas and take inspiration from some of Australia’s greatest artist. In many cases, they’ve been inspired by Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee but a collaboration with a contemporary has led to intrinsically more authentic pieces. This isn’t Romance Was Born at its best per se, but Romance Was Born at its core.
Beauty isn’t a language I can speak. It’s always seemed nice but completely foreign as to why I would spend fifty or sixty dollars on a small bottle of goo, when I could put that money to far better use, especially when shopping in second hand shops or online. Usually, clothes are in the forefront of my mind when I am dressing myself, but also observing a show in person or inline. However, even I am able to admit that beauty has a transformative power and is able to elevate a look. Put simply it can take something ordinary and turn in into something extraordinary.
Romance Was Born are one of my favourite designers, as they are able to pull together a cohesive and wholistic fashion presentation and utilise beauty to its full potential. It all just seems so whimsical and magical when the clothes are paired with dramatic beauty looks, big hair and something eccentric like a paint palette beret or even better, a unicorn headpiece to top if all off. Of course, if you wore the headpiece or hat walking down the street to get your morning coffee, everyone would stare at you as if you had come from another planet. But there’s something so wonderful about the fashion world creating a safe space and fantasy for those of us who do entertain the possibility of wearing the unicorn headpiece on a road trip with friends or outside events like a fancy dress party of comic con. But I digress, the eyeshadow and Petite Meller approved blush are both looks which intrigue and excite me.