Circa Nocturna is a chance for small local designers of alternative and gothic clothing to showcase their work. It’s a fascinating display of outfits inspired by classic Victorian formal wear, corsetry, fantasy, fetish and eccentricity, all set to the picturesque back drop of the old Fitzroy town hall. One but can’t help feeling the excitement and anticipation in the air as the newest gothic fashions are about to be unveiled. The star of the show was the stunning Samantha Shields who wore an elegant Victorian dress designed by Dolly Q, the stand out designing talent of the night.
The show began with creations from Vanyanis, with designs that could be believed to have come straight from of Marie Antoinette’s court. The outfits were complemented with powdered wigs, silk stockings and large buckled boots typical of the period. This classic Victorian theme was carried throughout the night and was adopted by many designers but expressed in different and exciting ways. One such designer was Danielle Carson with her design baby Dolly Q, who’s bright and pastel coloured fabrics brought lightness and a new layer of depth to a genre which is predominantly dark, both figuratively and literally. Classic Victorian garments and corsetry where followed by a re visit to retro and the 40’s, with stylish halter necked numbers in bright yellows and reds. But the proverbial feather in Carson’s cap was her militaristic skirt and jacket combos. In soft camo colours and a range of short and long cut skirts, officer jackets combined with corsetry, they were without a doubt the one thing that stood apart in a show of beautiful oddities and distorted glamour. On the subject of standout militaristic designs, a mention should be made to Russian designer Kate Musina and her unforgettable pin stripe officer uniforms.
From classic Victorian we then enter the realms of work influenced but not replicates of early fashion. Sonia Heaps Sche provided an array of intriguing wears including but not limited to blue and red baby doll dresses and extravagant gothic dresses complete with corsets and metal banding on the skirts. Z-entity followed suit with some amazing dinner party styled men’s formal wear and vamp ladies formal wear. This was followed by a mechanical trench coat and goggles look and an earthy toned feathery piece with an impressive back piece, but an even more impressive tattered train. Spook clothing’s red and black elaborate oriental designs brought grace and sophistication to the run way, but failed to leave an impression. The same can be said for the mish mash of uninspired work from Obsidian Lace. With a commendation for their lovely corsetry, not much else can be said in either a positive or negative note.
Melbourne based fashion designer Carly Von Groeningen of Lyris produced works in red, black, pink, purple, blue and gold in an array of styles and with an unusual mix of fabrics, combining velvet with tulles and lace to give her designs a distinct feel with a touch of fantasy as inspiration. Vitae took the fantasy theme further and resulted in pieces that resembled that look as if they belong in a fairy tale. In golds, blues, purples and blacks these soft but intricately beautiful corsets proved enchanting and somehow completely at home in the gothic genre.
Now in an alternative fashion show, you can’t help but expect something extraordinary, and Circa Nocturna did not disappoint. The surprises came in the form figure enhancing spandex suits in black and white by Black Cat stretchwear accompanied by metal plated and coloured plastic faux corset that act more like jewellery than functional corsets by Assassinus, and serve to give the outfit a more industrial feel. And last but definitely not least were designs by Matt Bylett. Working for the first time under his own label, Bylett’s main focus was on his moulded latex pieces and can only be described as other worldly. The latex pieces were often the centre of the outfit in either the breast plate for a corset (which was so delicately created in so much detail that one couldn’t help but think it resembles something that would have been on a knight’s shield or family crest) or an accessory. The most memorable being a demon mask that covers everything except the models mouth and cannot help but conjure up images of a bad guy from an anime movie, of course completed by a full length studded coat which makes this a must have for all those who want to instil fear in children, or just shock their parents.
Words – Alex Schleibs
Photography – Christos Pavlidis