Fashion festival begins with David Jones showcase starring Aussie models Jessica Gomes and Montana Cox

Montana Cox wearing Camilla at the 2015 Melbourne Fashion Festival

Kicking off: Montana Cox wearing Camilla at the 2015 Melbourne Fashion Festival opening event. Photo: Luis Ascui

Australia’s largest fashion festival turned back the sartorial dial to the 1970s on Saturday evening as David Jones turned a Docklands wharf into a slick runway show with Australian and international influences.

Sydney-based kaftan queen Camilla Franks cemented her creeping presence in the southern capital, with the first outfit of the two-week festival down the runway a delicate beaded cape dress worn by model Jessica Gomes – the first of an outrageous African and animal print-inspired collection by Camilla.

Melbourne models Raquel Barolli and Chris Nayna – winners of the “Walk with DJs” public model casting – slotted seamlessly alongside the store’s “face”, Montana Cox, and Gomes, who both jetted in from their homes in New York for the festival.

The show was principally a redux of the David Jones AW15 runway, heavy on the ’70s trend, albeit more youthful selections – with arguably less edge, to suit the consumer focus of the festival, which ends next Sunday.

For the first time, the retailer included international designers on the runway, with capsule collections by Joseph, Theory, Helmut Lang – featuring black leather and sleek suiting – as well as Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham denim diffusion lines.

Australian brands Strateas Carlucci, Ginger & Smart, Josh Goot, Rachel Gilbert, Ellery, Christopher Esber, Bianca Spender, Michael Lo Sordo, Carla Zampatti, Rebecca Vallance, Nicola Finetti, Willow, Jac and Jack, Sabatini, Bassike, Dion Lee, Romance Was Born and Megan Park were heavily favoured.

It is only the second outing for the retailer since chief executive Ian Nairn took the reins last year.

David Jones senior executive Donna Player said the brand remained committed to “the fashion industry and the festival is an amazing platform for both up and coming and established designers to showcase their collections.”

Sporty luxe continues its popularity, with The Upside – Jodhi Meares’ yoga and performance wear range – sent down the runway for the second time in as many months.

Scanlan Theodore was selected for closing honours – Gomes and Cox a knockout duo in versions of a jewel jade shimmy dress.

The fashion festival will throw its well-dressed arms around more than 100 established and emerging Australian designers in a nine-day celebration of the nation’s rag trade.

Festival chief executive said Graeme Lewsey said the festival was “simply about celebrating fashion in all its forms”.

More than 3000 people, a mix of fashion industry, media and public, attended Saturday night’s opening events.




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