Fashion is an industry built on change. Innovators spark ideas, early adopters pick up what's relevant, trends ripple through and suddenly you're in - or you're out.
Change is expected - necessary - but not all change is constructive. The pace at which the industry has changed since I've been old enough to be aware of it is relentless. There's no one reason; advancements in technology, accessibility of information and global consumerism all play their parts amidst endless others, as we demand more and more for less and less. We all want to see what's next before we've seen what's new (to hell with time for true inspiration, experimentation, development, sampling, fitting), seasons and delivery schedules have been thrown to the wind, design has no time to be thoughtful...and it's starting to feel like the tail-chasing is catching up on itself.
In striving to keep up with the momentum of the industry I've drifted away from the parts that inspired me to join it in the first place - the creativity, problem solving, tactile processes - and with that realisation I'm making a change of my own, and walking away.
For five years the Harbour has been a place to share the adventure, but the next one happens off screen. Maties, thanks for joining me, I'll treasure what I learned along the way.
Value good design. Seek out those who do things properly. Buy less, choose well.
For creative enquires I can be reached via my portfolio www.clairemueller.com or Instagram @capnmueller.
Need something to get you out of the house over the Christmas holidays? Arguably Perth's most recognised fashion designer, Aurelio Costarella's flair and work ethic has allowed a productive 30 year career, and you can get a glimpse into his journey through a retrospective at the WA Museum. Impeccably curated, you'll find the exhibition dispersed among the permanent displays (a joy in themselves), making for an atmospheric experience. Absolutely world class - catch it before February 2nd in normal museum hours.
AURELIO COSTARELLA, a 30 year Retrospective
Western Australian Museum
Perth Cultural Centre
Free, 9:30 - 5 daily
I've admired Cami & Nadia from DI$COUNT ever since catching glimpses of their work in the hallways at RMIT. They have a vision, are completely true to it and execute every element with finesse. Their aesthetic isn't for everyone - and granted, you won't find me in a neon batik hoodie emblazoned with SEX and smiley faces - but shrewdly, their range always includes pieces suitable for part-time disciples. Given how much I love (ETERNALLY) my holographic Comme clutch I figured a skirt in the same colour would just be extra fun, and it absolutely is. The skintight pencil style is pushing the comfort zone a little (I generally prefer a bit more room to move) but the length makes it right.
t - cameo c/o The Birdcage Boutique
skirt - discount
harness - hopeless lingerie
earrings - capnmueller
clutch - alpha cruxis
sunnies - colony
sandals - acne
Agent Provocateur has arrived in Perth with a substantial concession space in David Jones Hay Street. The original destination for saucy smalls, AP's aesthetic is a unique combination of lace delicacies and in-your-face raunch, a contrast I actually quite enjoy. Beyond the pasties and paddles is expertly cut, often innovative lingerie in beautiful fabrics which really needs to be tried to be appreciated. It's not quite the same as shopping in one of their velvet lined boutiques (put the blinkers on and ignore the shapewear department next door), but the generous fitting room is pretty flash and the pink-clad ladies will be more than happy to help you find something you feel sexy in. Expect to start a wishlist.
Agent Provocateur Perth
Level 2 Lingerie Department, David Jones
Hay Street, Perth
(08) 9325 1278
Hannah Cummuskey's considered and very wearable layers were accessorised with face bags and awesome hombre perspex - a collection that felt highly contemporary with a unique edge.
Lucy Aboagye's hauntingly beautiful ravaged couture showed enormous technical skill, restraint and maturity in design, drawing spontaneous applause from the audience. Lucy has been selected to partake in the 2014 Hyogo Banshu textiles program and will be traveling to Japan to develop her own textiles - congratulations, can't wait to see what you come up with!
Jessica Moro's sculptural cutting was set off by an unusual but highly successful colour palette.
Cordelia Gibbs captured what should probably be our national costume and heightened it to a serious fashion state. Her own 'Life in Wool' informed a knit heavy range that drew inspiration from rural Australian workwear without a hint of irony. Very clever, very relevant.
Kezia Soedjono melded something of Swan Lake with 80's bridal in striking white tulle abstractions, designed to engage the tactile, as well as visual, senses.
Laura Vlais explored Dia de los Muertos - dangerous cliche territory - with nary a sugar skull in sight. Heavy cotton lace against organza with sparing pops of colour made this collection sophisticated and exciting.
Shahira Salih's bold use of colour and volume was uplifting - this striped balloon dress was particularly successful.
Gautam Kapoor's collection of intricate print and distorted silhouette was equal parts bizarre and amazing. While I can't imagine the gold kneepads will take off the red dress with the extended front is one of the most exciting (and elegant) new ideas I've seen in a long time - definitely one to watch.
Well done Curtin fashion grads 2013, the industry will be lucky to have you!
Beauty product from Mecca Cosmetica & Kit Cosmetics, bag by The Luxe Project, jellies by Melissa
Sharing some summer beauty favourites in the latest Xpress fashion supplement, pick up a copy where you get your streetpress in Perth and check out the retro roadtrip editorial by Monica Morales with the Shift Creative team! Makeup for me is low key (I can't stand the idea of visible foundation or having to touch up during the day so the BB/CC revolution is actually revolutionary) and even moreso in summer (when it's 35degrees the main aim in sun protected, cool-calm-and-collected). Mecca is really hitting the mark with their home range - this tinted suncream is the best I've ever used and the ponytail holders are perfect for pretending you're not having a lazy hair day.
A few weeks ago a selection of industry guests were lured down to Fremantle and into a shed on the wharf for one of the most atmospheric fashion shows I've had the pleasure of witnessing. The portside satellite city turned on the charm with a perfect sunset and the tallship Leeuwin II docking in the background as well-styled models showed us what some of WA's young labels have been up to, courtesy of the Fremantle Fashion Collective. Highlights for me were Tindale - designer Shelley has an eye for balance and drape that manifests into garments that are unexpected and very sexy, Luka Rey who showed complexity in cut and texture, Anna Excell for beauty in simplicity with striking but very wearable silhouettes and Monster Alphabets - designer Sarah has harnessed her Japanese heritage with an aesthetic that (to my mind, at any rate) splices elements of kawaii into dark fashion.
In a city with very little industry there can be a tendency to default to a (not particularly successful) formula for this type of event - props to Hannah McGrath, Sarah Langley and Perth Fashion Festival for raising the bar on this one.
Born through the vision of the inimitable Wendy Marshall, Elle is an endearing icon of the Western Australian fashion landscape. Since 1969 Elle has been the local destination for international labels, reminding us that Perth and Paris exist in the same sphere - so there's no reason not to dress accordingly. Under the well-trained eyes of buyers Natasha and Corey the racks are filled with a sometimes-unexpected-but-always-chic selection that spans daywear to black tie (plus, of course, shoes, bags and jewellery. And a dedicated bridal suite!). Designer heavyweights including Lanvin, Stella McCartney and Givenchy give way to subtle tones from Rick Owens and Marithé + François Girbaud, while Romance Was Born, Bassike and Ksubi punctuate international street favourites including Acne, MSGM and Alexander Wang. Local talent doesn't get overlooked - you'll find Jamie Lee's opulent concoctions there next season!
The grand (and admittedly somewhat intimidating - but I promise they don't bite) exterior houses a celebration of art, design and style that proved itself an invaluable link to the runways long before next-day-delivery and style.com. Though the ladies in store will happily assist in outfitting you for any occasion you don't need an occasion to visit - take the time to be inspired by the detailed embellishment on a Peter Pilotto frock, the vibrant leather on Sophia Webster's heels, the perfect cut of a Helmut Lang jacket and discover why high end fashion is a beautiful thing.
56 Weld Street (cnr Stirling Hwy)
(08) 9386 6868
Born from a love of the beautiful handcrafted textiles of their native Thailand, mother/daughter duo Chutisa and Sharidan Bowman bring us The Luxe Project - a range of bags designed to show off the striking dyes, weaves and intricate embroidery of vintage ceremonial garments from the hill tribes of South East Asia. Representing countless hours of work but discarded with time, The Luxe Project seeks to give new life to these fabrics, working them into easy bag styles with leather contrast maximising use of the textile. Beautiful things, made with soul at every stage.
The Luxe Project
Maties, if you've known me for a while you may want to sit down.
I wore this - exactly this, no sexing up or slumming down for photos - consciously, out in public. Running shorts, a singlet and sneakers. RUNNING SHORTS AND SNEAKERS, MATES. MEN'S RUNNING SHORTS FROM KMART.
Does it matter, I hear you ask? Well, no. There are a million more important things happening in the world. But that's almost precisely why it does. This marks a turning point. Not so long ago this apparent lack of effort would have been inconceivable to me. Shorts were for children, sneakers for corporate chumps powerwalking to work. I thought ponytails were a waste of a real hairstyle. Sport was something people at school I didn't particularly like did. Leggings in any guise were never to be worn as pants. But my attitude has been shifting. Things that were once 100% NO WAY NOT EVER have become, at the very least, grey area.
What made me change my mind? Athletic minimalism from Alexander Wang and Céline (both of whom I'm coincidentally sporting here, with equal weighting to General Pants & Kmart. All class, all the time)? The sportsluxe vibe that's been sneaking onto the streets since circa 2010? Getting old? Getting fit? Everyone else giving less of a shit?
In the same way that I accepted (to be fair judged, but still accepted) someone wearing a beanie, board shorts, socks & pool slides yesterday, so too am I accepted in gear that I bought to sweat in at 6am before the world expects you to be polished. Because, it seems, in a scarily large number of situations it's become perfectly acceptable to keep your (hopefully sans-sweat) 6am style all day. Ex-Tigerlily designer Jodhi Meares' new activewear brand The Upside is pegging the yoga-studio-to-dinner angle. People buy gym clothes to wear instead of normal clothes. Lorna Jane has a whole section dedicated to 'leisure' wear (including 'Lorna's Fave Track Pant!') which looks suspiciously like sportswear to me. It's ok to do a Barre/Attack/Pump class (or not) on Saturday morning then go to breakfast/shopping/a home open in your fluoro singlet and 3/4 tights. Businessmen wheel & deal in cycling gear as much as they do tailored suits. We're not merely casualising our nation- we're wrapping it in highdensity performance micronylon with moisture wicking technology.
I scoff - but it's not entirely a bad thing. Getting active was a major player in my life shift and I'm certainly not going to discourage anyone else from doing it. It does concern me that people are missing out on the beauty of clothing that ISN'T designed to stretch and move and be thrown in the wash after every use, and that the notion of occasion-appropriate dress has already slipped through our fingers, but the concern I use to have for myself stooping to the aesthetic level of the gym bunnies? Gone. I've found more important things to worry about.
Disclaimer - I have worn