Australia’s fresh, fun and innovative designs have made an impact in everything from fashion and jewellery to furniture. From Collette Dinnigan to Ken Done, following is an overview of some of the hot Australian designers to look out for.
Australian fashion tends to be relaxed and playful, thanks to our warm climate, outdoor lifestyle and diverse cultural influences. Australian designers also have a reputation for breaking conventions. It was at a Melbourne racetrack that English model Jean Shrimpton first wowed the world with the mini-skirt in 1965. Local designer Prue Acton ran off a number of similar knee-baring skirts and found herself leading a bold global fashion trend. The same year, Joseph Saba began cutting trousers and shirts near Prue in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane. Today his Saba line still blends practicality and elegance in a very Australian way. Another Australian designer with longevity is Carla Zampatti, who began connecting classic Italian cuts with lightweight fabrics in the 1980s.
Today Australia has many designers on the international fashion stage. Check out the uber-feminine creations of Leona Edmiston and summon your inner rocker with Wayne Cooper. Experience the red-carpet glamour of Lisa Ho, who has dressed celebrities such as Tyra Banks and Carmen Electra. Discover Collette Dinnigan, whose designs regularly grace the catwalks of Paris fashion week. Other acclaimed Australian designers include Willow, Alexander McQueen, Josh Goot, Alice McCall, Kirrily Johnston, Aurelio Costarella, Maticevski, Nicola Finetti, Zambesi, Jayson Brunsdon and Zimmerman.
Catch many of these fashion heavyweights, along with up-and-coming designers at Australia’s fashion weeks. See the spring/summer collections in Sydney in May and the autumn/winter collections in Melbourne in October and November. There’s also the glamorous Melbourne Fashion Festival in March.
Away from the fashion top end, get global street cred with Sydney-based label Ksubi or slip into the Sass and Bide jeans worn by style icons such as Kate Moss. Check out the classic, quality outback style of R.M. Williams and complete the Australian drover look with a Driza-Bone coat, Akubra hat and Bonds singlet. Australia’s surf culture has spawned a style all of its own, and you can don the beach-loving look with home grown surf brands such as Rip Curl, Billabong and Mambo.
Australia’s designers include graphic designers, jewellers, fashion designers, furniture makers and textile artists. They come from a range of backgrounds and draw on a diverse range of influences, but share a unique Australian freshness. Visit the Johnny Chamaki Design Studio, begun by the man who created the Ned Kelly-inspired Outlaw chair. Other furniture classics include the sleek contour chair designed by Grant and Mary Featherson and Drew Martin's steel kangaroo seat.
Check out the designer rugs featuring Australian flora and fauna created by designer Catherine Martin. Visit a Ken Done store and see the bold, colourful and original designs which featured in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and which have become synonymous with Australia. Dinosaur Designs produces chunky, hand-modelled resin jewellery inspired by nature. See Australian craft designers work with a wide range of materials, including bronze, glass, gumleaf, leather, pewter, silver and timber.
From high-fashion to resin rings and kangaroo chairs, Australia’s fashion and design will surprise and impress you.