As far as I was concerned, when it came to the collaborative possibilities between runway fashion and pop culture, we had one Jeremy Scott and that was more than enough. So, when I heard Australian label Romance Was Born would be showing a comic book-inspired summer collection, I was expecting the worst; criminal misuse of latex and bastardisation, to the point of illegitimacy, of the cape as an accessory.
But Romance Was Born was the shining, multi-coloured star of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia; successfully fusing the worlds of fashion and comics for its S/S 2012-2013 collection, "Berserkergang!" Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, the genius duo behind the collection, opened the event in Sydney last Monday to unrelenting praise. Known for their avant-garde flare for fashion (and turning down an internship with John Galliano), the quirky, new darlings of the Australian fashion scene impressed the industry, upping their game with a refined, commercial collection that didn't sacrifice their originality.
The long awaited show drew in a slew of local and international names, including Sass & Bide designer Heidi Middleton, Australian actress Miranda Otto and British fashion blogger, Susie Bubble. Among the celebrities, editors and buyers in attendance were executives from MARVEL Comics. Of course, Plunkett and Sales collaborated with the ultimate authority on comics to legitimately authenticate their work. The opportunity, Plunkett said, was "a dream," having been given access to MARVEL's comic archives for inspiration.
The fruits of their creative labour have resulted in an eclectic mix of designs that more than put my aversion to collaboration to rest. Down the runway, models styled with fiery orange hair and adhesive, black eyebrows, walked the catwalk, all the while looking suspiciously like an army of David Bowie impersonators. Adding further to the theatricality of the show was a playlist including the sounds of Annie Lennox and a large, 3D replica comic book set.
Romance Was Born S/S 2012-2013.
Describing their vision for the collection backstage, Plunkett noted the use of colour and its importance, "we kept thinking about how powerful colour is and we wanted people to get that." With the exception of a few black and white Dalmatian-esque pieces that would make Cruella de Vil proud, colour was captivating and unavoidable in bumble bee yellow, Barbie pink and a lot of purple accents. Eccentric clashes of colours, patterns and fabrics typified most looks in the collection, although there were interludes of simpler, less aesthetically complicated pieces.
Still, keeping with the theme, many of the garments themselves were patterned with "Kirby Dots," just like a comic book and that was just the beginning. While subtly isn't usually a priority for labels like Romance Was Born, there's something about stamping barely distorted images of characters on garments that exudes confidence. After all, wearing comic book heroes isn't like wearing florals. Maybe it was pretentious, but they pulled it off; the Silver Surfer has never looked so good.
A few sequin embellished looks aside, which were fun but a bit reminiscent of the fashion faux pas we call the Eighties, the collection on the most part avoided being kitsch. Smart tailoring meant that while the silhouettes of the pieces had "super hero" influences to them, that didn't define them - at least not like a cape and latex would.
With no other collection quite rivalling it in inspiration or wow-factor, Romance Was Born remained at the forefront of people's minds throughout the week. Ignoring ethereal and minimalist trends in a way perhaps only their youth can allow, the collection was a breath of fresh air. Nerdy? Maybe. But cool? Definitely.
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