Afterpay Australian Fashion Week kicks off in Sydney

Karla Špetić shows her collection "CEREMONY, SS22" at the 2021 Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. Photo: Vladimir Kravchenko/supplied.

Australian Fashion Week has commenced, featuring some of Australia’s best new and returning designers and creatives. Arts and entertainment editor Tahli Blackman reports.

This year’s highly anticipated Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) has arrived, with a schedule of sit-down talks, fashion projects and runway shows presented by the best and brightest of Australian creatives.

Fashion Week 2022 will run from today – Monday, May 9 – to Friday, May 13 at the Carriageworks multi-arts precinct in inner city Eveleigh. Runway shows will be held in the galleries and talks and will be in The Auditorium inside The Hub.

With the events expecting over 18,000 attendees over the five-day period, many of Australia’s fashion fanatics, up and coming photographers, editors and stylists are thrilled to witness the emergence of new fashion era after the lockdowns and disruption of Covid-19.

Fashion Week designer royalty

Karla Špetić is a Sydney-based designer and self-titled brand that has been showing at Fashion Week since 2008 and will be doing so again this year. The Croatian-born designer has had her pieces worn by the likes of Solange and Beyoncé Knowles and has shown her work all over the world. She is regarded as a playful designer who brings a unique romanticism and juxtaposition of masculine and feminine to her designs. 

Karla is showing her newest collection Oasis ‘23 at AAFW on Wednesday, May 11. She feels that she has always been quite conceptual with her previous designs, however, this time she has focused on creating wearable and usable pieces. 

“I’m walking a line between my art and showing pieces that people feel they could wear right now,” Špetić tells The Sentinel.

Karla Špetić thanks the audience following her show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 20 Collections at Carriageworks in 2019. Photo: Stefan Gosatti/supplied.

Preparing for Fashion Week takes many hours and a hard-working team. Špetić is constantly referring back to her original inspirations and uses the days before her show to work with fabric and make sure her pieces have physical integrity. 

“In the end, I’m the only one I trust to steam the pieces and make sure each piece on each model is perfect,” she reveals. 

Špetić also feels that being unique and taking risks are important when designing new pieces. She likes to set challenges for herself that seem impossible and then work towards making them a reality. 

“I have an idea and a mood board at the start, then eventually I have a runway show. The moments in between, as that dream is realised, are both joy and torture,” she says.

“There’s an old saying that works here – I hate designing but I love having designed.”

Tobias Sangkuhl is a graduate designer from the Fashion Design Studio and is exhibiting his self-titled collection this year at The Innovators show on Wednesday, 11 May. His work challenges conventional fashion and explores the boundaries between jewellery and clothing. The collection was created using many mixed metals and textiles, 80 per cent of these being dead stock recycled and reused to create sustainable pieces.

Sari Tredinnick models the Tobias Sangkuhl Argyle Chainmail Dress, which was constructed using over 40,000 individual metal rings. Photo: Natasha Killeen/supplied.

“My collection is about archetypes of clothing and experimenting with different metals to question what is and isn’t appropriate in fashion and our society,” Sangkuhl tells The Sentinel.

“The way we treat jewellery is different from how we treat fast fashion garments. I wanted to create pieces that are permanent and in theory, can be passed down through generations like jewellery.”

An up and coming stylist

Kate Harper is a fashion, commercial and still life stylist who has been working in the industry for over six years. In previous years, Kate has attended Australian Fashion Week to assist behind the scenes, but this year she has decided to just “sit back and enjoy”.

Kate Harper is excited to attend Australian Fashion Week as a spectator this year. Photo: Kate Harper/supplied.

“I am really looking forward to the sense of community and celebration that fashion week provides for the Australian fashion circle,” she says.

Harper is planning to attend five out of the six talks and panels AAFW is offering this year. She is very excited to listen to the Empowering Voices: Fashion’s Cultural Impact on Representation and Inclusion and The Sustainable Business Journey talks, as she feels very passionately about the topics the selected panellists will discuss.

“I’m very excited for the Empowering Voices talk. Australia is unfortunately quite behind when it comes to size diversity and adaptive clothing options and I’m looking forward to hearing from industry leaders about how we can make a change,” she says.

Kate Harper has been working in the fashion industry for over six years and recently styled this shoot for Australian label, Jillian Boustred. Photo: Rocket K Weijers/supplied.

Harper has also been invited to a series of shows, including The Innovators, Torannce, Gyre, Gary Bigeni and the Karla Špetić show, which she is most looking forward to.

The schedule

AAFW 2022 kicked off this morning at 8 am in Gallery III with a Welcome to Country produced by First Nations Fashion and Design. Following this, more than 50 live runway shows and exhibitions are scheduled to occur over the busy week.

This year’s AAFW also includes The Talks, presented by Glenfiddich Whisky. These panel discussions and sit-down conversations will be on the thought-provoking topics of representation and diversity in fashion.

You can view the full Fashion Week schedule here.

This year is the first year that IMG and AAFW have announced The Experience – a series of events and runways that are open to the public, at a price of course. However, some parts of the AAFW are still invitation only.

The 2022 AAFW shows that are accessible to anyone include Adaptive Clothing Collective, Daniel Avakian, Dyspnea, First Nations Fashion and Design, Karla Špetić, Mariam Seddiq, Next Gen presented by DHL, sass & bide and St. Agni.

Karla Špetić believes that feeling the excitement and the nail-biting drama of AAFW is probably the best experience a young designer could have. She encourages up and comers to work hard and know that it will pay off.

“Dreams are just big plans, so I’d encourage young designers to look at it that way. If you ever want to show your work, get working.”

Afterpay Australian Fashion Week will be held from Monday, May 9 to Friday, May 13 at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh. For tickets and further information, visit https://aafw.com.au/index.

Tahli Blackman is the arts and entertainment editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

For further news, features, reviews, interviews, opinion, podcasts and more, visit https://sydneysentinel.com.au. You can also like/follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.