Style Melbourne

Spirit of the Black Dress ‘FlashWalk’


10 am at Flinders Street station, and the steps are crowded with the usual throng of commuters hurrying on their way. In the middle of this everyday chaos, ten models stand frozen in the sea of people. They’re clad in identical black trench coats, with couture-coiffed hair and nude makeup. It’s a dramatic enough scene to make anyone stop and stare, and people do so with abandon.

At an unseen signal, the living statues start to move, stalking towards the road where they discard their trenches in unison and unveil ten black dresses, alike only in colour. A pack of photographers crowd around them, fighting for pride of place.

This was the launch of the 2010 Spirit of the Black Dress– a project committed to raising the profile of emerging designers through an annual exhibition showcasing ten interpretations of the classic wardrobe staple.

The ten designs previewed on the street that morning will be shown under more conventional circumstances at Georges on Collins from March 12-16 as part of the L’oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Participating designer Maja Karlsen Mueller said the exhibition was the best way to showcase the designs.

“In the exhibition, people can get up close and see the detail of the garment, which can be lost on the catwalk,” she said, pointing out the intricate beading of her design.

Fellow designer Michelle Czech was quick to agree.

“I generally try to use colour a lot, so working in black can be challenging,” she said.

“You can lose detail in completely black designs.

“You need to find new ways to create embellishments.”

Despite the uniform colour, the collection showcases a diverse range of designs: ranging from the scandalously short to maxi-length; off-shoulder to puff-shoulder; and wool-blends to sheer fabrics.

Designer Melissa Mahony said a good design and embellishment were crucial to approaching the task.

“Working in black, the challenge is to make it stand out,” she said.

“When you can’t hide behind the print you need a strong design.”

Entrants this year were faced by an additional challenge as the project directed designers to incorporate sustainability into their design. This directive was approached with the creativity you’d expect.

“I made my design from two jumpers I bought at Savers,” said Czech, gesturing towards her knit, puff-shouldered creation.

“That had a great influence on the way I designed – I had to work with the cables of the jumpers to create texture.”

Another designer, Alexis Belcher, created a feminine design with a structured silhouette from a large-size men’s suit, found at an op-shop. She said the worn look of the fabric added something to her design she could not have achieved with new fabric.

“It makes you think outside just going to Spotlight and buying some fabric,” Czech surmised.

With such a wide range of interesting and contrasting designs, the 2010 collection reminds us why the black dress holds a coveted place in every woman’s wardrobe.

Fab Photography by Dan Archer

Words of Wisdom by Stephanie Anderson

2 Thoughts on “Spirit of the Black Dress ‘FlashWalk’

  1. Tullia on March 13, 2010 at 10:03 am said:

    Love the photos, they look amazing!

  2. Pingback: fashion: LMFF the spirit of the black dress media launch «

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