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EMMA MULHOLLAND by Natalia Pasonson
Emma MulhollandPolaroids shot by by Natalia Pasonson

What went down (under) at Australia's fashion week

Xanax-inspired beachwear and Bella Hadid – jetlagged AF and back in the US of A, Alex Catarinella revisits the weird and wonderful moments of MBFW Australia

It’s been less than a week since my return home from Sydney where I attended the mostly fantastic Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia. I don’t care if I sound cliché when I say “the whole week was a big blur” – that’s the best I can give you ATM because I am jet-lagged as fuck and I threw away my please-remain-sane pills by accident during the frenetic flight connection. The Starbucks “flat white” is NOT the same as the real soul-saving deal in Sydney, mates! Stress and exhaustion was seriously the diagnosis. Am I a damaged celeb starlet or what?

In short, I was flown down under to check out the Resort 2017 collections from many of the finest Australian fashion designers (and Oscar de la Renta and Cynthia Rowley, because why not?). I found my cat-fur-covered, Forever 21-clad ass oftentimes sitting front row next to not-cat-fur-covered-Forever-21-clad-famous-in-Australia fashion types. Everyone was so stylish and beautiful. I think I was the only “VIP” who almost didn’t get street style shot at all, but who could resist my Spice Girls ‘Spice World’ tour t-shirt and snapback combo? No one who considers themselves a fashion somebody. I consider myself lucky and youthful: I collected tons of goodie bags filled with anti-aging SPF potions, a Clarifuckinsonic (expensive! I'm poor!) and even “THE SUPER ELIXIR” by Elle Macpherson, which came in this questionable grass-y powder form, which I’d sprinkle/shake the shit out of into a water bottle and violently chug every morning. Hey, Kate Moss swears by it, so says The Daily Mail, and I wanted that fashion week green juice-y glow!

I’m not glowing anymore. I’m actually dying. I can’t see what I’m typing. Am I even breathing. Listen, my last press trip ended in me Snapchatting selfies (dripping mascara filter) from a hospital bed, and I did not RSVP for that mess! So, before I crawl back into child’s pose in my very own bed, let me tell you all that went down down under…

GREGG ARAKI WIGS

I love a good wig. (I’m obsessed with the self-proclaimed “wigologist” Wendy Williams for a reason). I don’t do themes, because they’re never good, unless it’s a party where all must exclusively wear Spice Girls merch and/or Forever 21. But I can appreciate a good theme from a galaxy far, far away/the open bar. Anyway, I’m pretty sure Emma Mulholland loves a good wig and a good theme, and she did the damn thing with her Resort 2017 showing, ‘Intergirlactic’.

I skimmed the show notes pre-show: “Lost in the realm of 60s space age” x “extra-terrestrial comics” x “Gregg Araki films (think The Doom Generation and Nowhere).” Which made me think, how groundbreaking/Jeremy Scott SS14. Then the show happened and my jet-lag-sponsored sassy side-eye vanished. I loved it: the metallic sandals/bags/everything, the denim skirts with galaxy-friendly patches, the simple “someone on Mars loves me” white tee. Then there’s that sequined jumpsuit, its sartorial-slaying powers teleporting me to the 2000 BRIT Awards, where the Spice Girls (sans Ginger) were presented some sort of award by Will Smith.

The wigs (nine in total, all pre-cut, all deliciously different) snatched my Spice World tour hat/wig right the fuck off. Some were a bit RuPaul’s Drag Race-y/Christina Aguilera The Voice collection (both compliments). I enjoyed the mullet menagerie (mullets are animals) of varying styles – both the blunt and the messy fringe, and the punk pop colours (of the world!). That’d be a Spice Girls reference. Kaleidoscopic shout-outs for using space-y stickers that one may find in the back-to-school Lisa Frank-filled aisle as smize makeup. Also, cute alien antennas.

X-RATED SEQUINS

DI$COUNT UNIVER$E knows that the freaks, who happen to be their psychotically-dressed fans, come out at night to play, so that’s when they presented their ‘SIN IS IN’ show. And thank the glam grunge gods that they fucking came, waving their bedazzled spiked freak flags high as a ketamine kite. I’m sorry, but it was day four or something of fashion week, and I had become immune to flat whites and was approaching a boredom-induced coma from the onslaught of Blake-Lively-Memorial-Day-weekend-picnic-in-The-Hamptons vibes. That’s cute and all, but sometimes a gay needs to get sloshed off of some punk punch.

Imagine a JFK to Sydney flight housing laid off Trash and Vaudeville and Patricia Field associates de-boards outside the venue. Imagination is key, because the street style photos on Swarovski-sponsored fashion magazine websites of the DU kids, chain-smoking pre-and-post show in their rave-ready looks, are nonexistent. Because “you can't get the shot in the dark,” a designer-clad street style photographer huffed to me, like I was the one responsible for scheduling their evening showtime. "I've lived here all of my life and I don't know who any of these people are," I overheard an Aussie social media celebrity say in impressive vocal fry re: the sartorial circus surroundings. “These people” were just the ass kick my jet-lagged ass needed.

“I’m sorry, but it was day four or something and I was approaching a boredom-induced coma from the onslaught of Blake-Lively-Memorial-Day-weekend-picnic-in-The-Hamptons vibes. That’s cute and all, but sometimes a gay needs to get sloshed off of some punk punch”

And then there was the actual bonkers show (see also: rock concert), where maniacal models pumped down the glitter runway rocking kill-a-bitch looks (oh my re: those thigh highs!) replete with bloody blow-up doll lips, Manic Panic tears and braided ponytail trains for daaaaays. DU embraced feelings of “recklessness, self-discovery, hedonism and debauchery” for 'SIN IS IN', which was apparent via many a salacious slogan all over the looks: “Sex is our business,” “God is good but Satan does that thing you like with his tongue,” and “Fuck off and die.” But it was the “Could you fuck the sadness out of me?” slinky silver New Years Eve-friendly dress that could steal many a rebel riot heart. (Or maybe I’m just projecting.)

DI$COUNT UNIVER$E knows and loves their dedicated fans. They’re not lending pieces on the day of the show to bloggers to pose in in hopes of appearing on a street style section of Vogue.com. Nope. DU actually gave out show tickets to their most dedicated Instagram followers who left the craziest comments about why they live and breathe DU, which, for one commenter, includes brushing his or her teeth in sequins and having eggs and haters’ tears for breakfast. Yum.

LIFT-RELATED CATASTROPHES AND XANAX-INSPIRED BEACHWEAR

Dion Lee and Christopher Esber have a few fashion-y things in common. They’re both really big in Australia. They both make really beautiful elegant things. And they both have a penchant for a unique presentation: Dion Lee went with a corporate chic approach, showing his collection on the rooftop of a towering office building. It was bold and beautiful. Christopher Esber showed his collection in a hot yoga studio in hip hood, Kings Cross. This is the type of shit that no fashionista would miss out on Snapchatting.

And they didn’t. Which caused quite the lift-related shitshows. Lee’s lift queue to enter and exit was a masochistic mess – you had to go through those security elevator scanner things – and a little jet-lagged voice in my broken brain advised me to take the stairs exiting the super packed Esber showing. Good thing, since said lift would eventually get stuck. Not so Zen. (Still, the aforementioned collections were really strong.) 

“You can shop directly from DOUBLE RAINBOUU’s trippy site. It’s worth it just to read the brand’s vision, like this gem: “take me down to paradise city on a xanax holiday ride to nowhere.” Sign me up”

Buzzed-about new-ish retro-athleisure line, P.E Nation, got it right with their presentation, which involved ushering the masses into a pitch black room, which didn’t seem fantastic for me since I am claustrophobic. But it all worked out, and quickly. The sound of a basketball dribbled for less than a minute before launching into 90s hip-hop bangers as the house lights came on, spotlighting moody models striking sporty poses in a boxing ring-esque platform in what could’ve been a Million Dollar Baby x VFiles-friendly collab (crops, bombers, track pants, etc). I was there for four minutes. Win.

I felt like I had stumbled upon a Petra Collins x Spring Breakers shoot at the DOUBLE RAINBOUU presentation, a brand new line that wasn’t on the official Mercedes-Benz Australia Fashion Week calendar. (What can I say? I was just following the cool kids...) In short, alt models/beach babes/pool punks in oversized floppy bucket hats and unbuttoned acid-y pastel Hawaiian shirts kicked it in a pile of sand in the corner of a showroom.  DR has just started selling internationally at select retailers (including Ron Herman Japan and Opening Ceremony), but you can shop directly from their trippy site. It’s worth it just to read the brand’s vision, like this gem: “take me down to paradise city on a xanax holiday ride to nowhere.” Sign me up.

AND ABOUT THAT BELLA HADID “FORMATION” THING...

Seriously though. I didn’t know anything about the whole Bella Hadid walking for Misha Collection with a white model brigade to Queen Bey’s “Formation” tragic thing until I got a slew of Snapchat messages like two days after the show had happened. Because I didn’t go to the show. Let me explain: I was given third row and I’m not into bandage dresses and it was impossible to get an interview with Bella. My fellow journalists were losing their goddamn minds re: chit-chatting with her and it was all too much for me. (Anyway, I’ve already hung out with her at an underground onesies party – the kind you wear, yes – where I "befriended" her mostly because I told her I’m obsessed with her mom, star of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’... Then I lost her number when I lost my iPhone because I still don’t know what an iCloud is, but I have no business being text friends with an 18-year-old anyway, right? Fuck.) I’d like to think I really dodged the Bella bullet. Sydney had so much more to offer me, anyway. There must be something in the water down under, because I was seriously impressed. What a wonderful/wacky week. Now, back to hibernating.