Explore Time Out's three picks of designers touting their wares at the nineteenth Melbourne Spring Fashion Week
She was a “daggy kid” despite growing up in fashion conscious Hong Kong, but now Livia Arena is the go-to designer for style with an androgynous edge. “I use very clean lines and simple styles, using luxurious fabrics with details which aren’t necessarily obvious from the outset,” she explains.
The 29-year-old only kicked off her self-titled label in 2010; a transformation from life in the corporate world. Melbourne Spring Fashion Week will see Arena apply her laser cut designs to silk crepe.
“The garments aren’t skin tight, they’re loose and free and you can see through when the light is on them. The shadows which imprint on your skin,” Arena says.
Fashion festivals allow Arena to see her work through new eyes, away from the analytical production process. “It often takes on a bit of a new life on the runway, because you have a stylist that puts together the show,” she says. “It’s refreshing.”
No stranger to catwalks and cameras, Christina Exie’s self-titled niche fashion label targets style-lovers who want texture, bold colours and unique concepts. Buzz around the 23-year-old Melbourne designer has reached fever pitch since she won Project Runway Australia last year.
“I got to show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and I think that put me on an international platform,” Exie says.
Back home for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, Exie feels her collection won’t fit Aussie stereotypes, and describes her style as minimal, contrasting, and edgy. Bright colours like electric blue and orange will provide a “harsh contrast” to the very Melbourne base of black.
“Expect silk, chiffon dresses, sports luxe inspired garments. A bit of Lycra, mesh panelling, and leather.”
Despite her young age, Exie's designs are mature and appeal to a high-end market.
“Women that wear my clothing feel comfortable, sexy and feminine,” she says. “They’re willing to pay the price for high quality products, made in Australia.”
Sexy minimalism inspires the mates behind Melbourne label Neo Dia. Gavin Lowes, 31, and Rebecca Chua, 24, met at RMIT and melded instantly – and they put their speedy success down to teamwork.
“We collaborated on a collection for a project with fashion week, at the end of 2010, and from that collection, it just got so much media exposure particularly overseas,” Lowes says. He describes the Neo Dia woman as independent and not afraid of standing out: “She’s intelligent, she’s powerful and has an idea of who she is.”
The young label already boasts acknowledgements from Vogue Italia and Amsterdam Fashion Week and has previously shown at the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. With the fashion event again on the cards, Lowes hopes it will build exposure for the brand. “We’ve gone into a real architectural vibe for this collection with the demented leathers against the steel aluminium tubes,” he tells Time Out. “It’s really about balancing that really sharp feel against some beautiful soft fabrics like silk chiffons.”
All three designers will feature in MSFW: Designer Runway 2, Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston St, Melbourne 3000. ticketek.com.au. 6.30pm, 8.30pm. $35-$45. Wed Sep 4.