Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is an annual fashion industry event, currently sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and showcasing the latest seasonal collections from Australian and Asia Pacific Designers.
Australian Fashion Week is an industry fashion week intended for retail buyers to buy forthcoming spring/summer collections directly from designers and manufacturers, as opposed to a consumer fashion week, which showcases clothes currently available instore and is targeted to fashion consumers.
As of 2013 it is held at Carriageworks in Redfern, Sydney, in April of each year. Previously it had been held in April/May at the International Passenger Terminal at Sydney's Circular Quay, and prior to that at Fox Film Studios, Moore Park and Melbourne's St Kilda pier.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia has helped bring attention to a number of Australian designers such as Lisa Ho, Alex Perry, Zimmermann, Toni Maticevski, Collette Dinnigan, Leona Edmiston, J'Aton Couture, Ericaamerica, Easton Pearson and Gwendolynne.
The event was the brainchild of PR consultant and former ski magazine reporter Simon Lock. Launched in 1996, in its debut year the event featured shows by Australian designers including Akira Isogawa, Alex Perry and Wayne Cooper. The event had mixed success; British fashion writer Susan Owens wrote a scathing review dubbing it "Fashion Weak" and writing that 25 broken-hearted designers had thrown away their money.
In 2005, event founder Simon Lock sold the event and its parent company Australian Fashion Innovators to the New York-based International Management Group. The deal was rumoured to have been worth several million dollars.
Rosemount Estate wineries acquired naming rights from Mercedes-Benz in 2006 and the event was renamed Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW), but the principal sponsorship passed back to Mercedes-Benz in 2011.
Lock worked with IMG for the next five years before departing the company in 2010. In 2011 he was presented with the Australian Fashion Laureate award, the first non-designer to receive it. At the time he was building a ski hotel in Japan and spending more time with his children.
Australian Fashion Week has attracted criticism of being out of sync with the global fashion market; some popular designers pulled out of the 2012 event in order to prepare for international events.
The event has also been criticised for featuring inexperienced emerging designers rather than big names, that its collections are conspicuously 'influenced' by European designers, and that it resorts to cheap theatrics that have included everything from Afghan hounds to midgets in lederhosen.
However, fashion journalist Marion Hume argues that the non-participation of established designers is welcome. "It lets those designers grow [by going overseas] and gives space for younger ones to come up,” she said. “It’s a natural progression and shows a healthiness in Australian Fashion Week.”
The event relies heavily on the participation of international celebrities. In 1997, supermodel Linda Evangelista's appearance in the Alex Perry show drew international attention to the event. Eva Herzigova donned a $500,000 pearl bikini to launch Tigerlily’s first runway show in 2001.
Jade Jagger modelled for Charlie Brown in 2005. Dita Von Teese was a guest of honour in 2007, giving a sexy performance that featured her straddling a giant MAC lipstick. Singer Macy Gray performed at the Marcs show in 2008, and celebrity fashion blogger Susie Bubble covered the 2010 event.
2001 saw some notorious appearances of animals as a runway gimmick. Model Kristy Hinze wore a snakeskin bikini with a live snake draped around her shoulders. It began to wrap itself around her neck, to her evident discomfort. Meanwhile, streetwear label Ksubi (then named Tsubi) released 169 live rats onto the runway, one of which was killed, prompting an RSPCA investigation.
The complete list of designers presenting at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2012 is: Aje, Akira, Alice McCall, An Ode to No One, Aurelio Costarella, Bec & Bridge, Bless’ed Are The Meek, Bowie, By Johnny, Camilla, Carl Kapp, Christopher Esber, Dylan Cooper, Dion Lee, Ellery, Flowers For a Vagabond, Fernando Frisoni, Gail Sorronda, Gary Bigeni, Ginger & Smart, Hardwick by Mariana Hardwick, Jenny Kee, Jayson Brunsdon, Johanna Johnson, Josh Goot, Kirrily Johnston, Kooey Australia, Ksubi, Lisa Ho, Lisa Maree, Manning Cartell, Magdalena Velevska, MATICEVSKI, Mens Show, Michael Lo Sordo, Miss Unkon, nANA jUDY, New Generation 1, New Generation 2, Oroton, Raffles International Designer Showcase, Romance was Born, Roopa Pemmaraju, Sara Phillips, Song for the Mute, Style Hong Kong, Suboo, Talulah, The Innovators, Toi Et Moi Sydney, Watson X Watson, Whitney Eve and WE by Whitney Eve, We Are Handsome and Zimmermann.
Title sponsor Mercedes-Benz is supported by government partners Destination NSW and Austrade, Maybelline New York, DHL, HP/Intel, Redken 5th Avenue NYC and EYE and as well as media outlet Getty Images.
It was announced in October 2012 that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) was moving from its Overseas Passenger Terminal location in The Rocks in Sydney Harbour to Carriageworks in Eveleigh. Also announced with the move was the plan for MBFWA to partner up with PREMIERE the leading trade event for boutique brands for an onsite buying space for wholesale brands.
The 2013 fashion week exhibited many of the same iconic and inspiring Australian designers while also introducing a vast amount of new innovative and upcoming designers. These new generation 2013 included Betty Train, Desert Designs, Faddoul, Jamie Ashkar, Natalie & Sarah, The Letter Q, and Tristan Melle. Some of the most praised designers showcased on the runway this year were White Sands, Christopher Esber, Bec and Bridge, Aurelio Costarella, and Camilla and Marc. All of these designers had gained a large amount of publicity and popularity upcoming the event and impressed the critics with innovative and stylish designs. According to Vogue Australia’s beauty director and Napoleon Perdis who were backstage for the event, the beauty trends this year were long lashes, luminous skin and a golden bronzed cheeks.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney is a schedule of fashion events showcasing the contemporary Spring Summer Collections of Australia’s leading designer brands. The festival is held at the Sydney Town Hall and throughout the city. The festival is showcased months after Australian Fashion Week. It is still hosted by IMG and Mercedes-Benz fashion week, connecting it with the same designers and production style. Many of the shows put on are reviews of fashion week. As retailers struggled with declining sales, MBFF was pitched as an event to show consumers how to wear the clothes currently on the retail racks. IMG fashion hosts the whole event. IMG also has control over the whole Australian Fashion Week and festival.
Although Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney is primarily based during Australian Fashion week, they also support and put together runway shows throughout the year for the designer brands they support. In May 2013, the festival hosted a fashion focused seminar featuring Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia designers Camilla and Marc and KIRRILY JOHNSTON. This is just one of the many external events outside the festival that MBFFS contributes to.
Many well-known and influential designers as well as new and upcoming designers participate in the fashion festival. Some of the designers include Alice Mccall, Bec & Bridge, Ginger & Smart, Ksubi, Lisa Ho, Oroton, We Are Handsome, and Whitesands.
Indian Photographer Ipsito Das has covered Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia 2014.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane is a schedule of fashion events showcasing the contemporary Spring Summer Collections of Australia’s leading designer brands. The festival is held at the Brisbane Town Hall and throughout the city in August.