2008 L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, the largest fashion event in Australia, was held this month from to 2 to 9 March. Among its highlights, the LMFF Designer Award, presented by Woolmark on March 4th, announced AWI (Australian Wool Innovation) support for emerging Australian designers. This year's nominees were Antipodium, Carl, Friedrich Gray, Gail Sorronda, Manning Cartell, Therese Rawsthorne and Thurley.
Left to right: Antipodium, Carl Kapp, Friedrich Gray (menswear and womenswear). Second row: Gail Sorronda, Manning Cartell, Therese Rawsthorne and Thurley.
The winner of the 2008 LMFF Designer Award was Sydney-based label Friedrich Gray, the pet project of designer Ben Pollitt. Along with a $10,000 cash prize, he was offered a trip to the fashion fairs of Europe where he will be introduced to the best spinners, knitters and mills in the world.
With no formal training in fashion, Ben Pollitt managed to establish a well-defined label, designing for both men and women. The Friedrich Gray aesthetic is a mix of androgynous styling and luxury fabrics (washed leather, silk, and Australian Merino wool), with a modern urban twist and fit for any big city. As Pollitt declares, when he designs it is for the international market, having in mind his favorite locations: New York and Paris.
Photo credit: Adrian Mesko. See the entire Friedrich Gray fall08/winter09 collection here: www.adrianmesko.com.
Two other LMFF Designer Award nominees got my attention:
The Sidney-based label, Manning Cartell, was launched in 2006 by three sisters, Cheryl, Vanessa and Gabrielle Manning, all with a rich fashion background. Manning Cartell style is, as the trio declares, a mix of "eccentricity and style, playfulness and culture, irony and elegance". The fall 2008 collection, very feminine and detail-centric, found inspiration in Art Nouveau, flapper dress and the exoticism of the 1920's, all translated in luxurious fabrics and a monochromatic palette highlighted by hints of bronze and copper, violet and red. Check out the entire collection here: www.manningcartell.com
Gail Sorronda is a Brisbane-based label already acknowledged by the Australian fashion industry since 2004, when designer Gail Reid presented her graduate collection at Australian Fashion Week. Gail Sorronda design aesthetic emphasis on silhouette and form steering clear from color and prints. Favoring black and white, Gail Reid's fall 2008 collection uses contrast in texture with fabric choices such wet look lycra, shiny black lacquered cotton and linen as well as matt wool. Elastic cables, spikes, fingerless gloves and sheer paneling set a darker, dramatic mood. Watch other Gail Sorronda designs here: www.gailsorronda.com .