Given it’s the most prestigious night on the Australian fashion industry’s calendar, the 2017 Australian Fashion Laureate Awards was never going to be a low-key affair. But with this being the tenth anniversary, organisers – with the help of high-vis sponsor Etihad Airways – certainly pulled out the big guns.

During a gala dinner held at the impressive underground industrial Barangaroo Cutaway space that hosted Toni Maticevski’s opening night runway show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2016 in Sydney, hundreds of the industry’s elite gathered by candle-light for the awards, which are judged by industry and hosted by global fashion powerhouse IMG.

Fashion designers, editors, top models, celebrity stylists and trendy boutique bosses had their evening kicked off with a performance by ever-talented stylist, director and GRAZIA magazine cover photographer Margaret Zhang, who wowed the aghast crowd with her concert pianist skills (after a brief false start thanks to technical hitches, a potentially awkward mishap very gracefully handled.)

Zhang’s presentation of her performance art piece There’s No Space Left in C# Major, which took her over a year to develop, saw her perform at a giant electric piano as a stunning three-part short film dazzled on two giant screens behind her.

Retired supermodel Gemma Ward with Fashion Laurate 2017 Winner Dion Lee
Credit: Supplied

After all but one award of the night had been handed out before the main course, a stunning retrospective fashion show featuring iconic pieces from past winners like Carla Zampatti, Collette Dinnigan, Dion Lee, Easton Pearson, Jenny Kee, Akira Isogawa and last year’s big star Maticevksi paved the way to the big gong: the Australian Fashion Laureate, which was eventually won by a very cool, calm Lee. While the now New York-based designer has won in other categories in the past, this was his first win of the equivalent of the industry’s Best Picture Oscar.

Retired supermodel Gemma Ward made an appearance too, towering over petite veteran fashion journalist and emcee Melissa Hoyer as she announced the award for Best Australian Retailer to multi-brand store Harrolds. Lee and PE Nation both won Etihad Two Business Class Tickets to anywhere in the world, the first time a prize has been offered on top of the industry glory.

PE Nation’s Claire Tregoning and Pip Edwards won the Etihad Airways Emerging Talent Award (aka Best Newcomer)
Credit: Supplied

SEE A FULL LIST OF THE 10TH ANNUAL AUSTRALIAN FASHION LAUREATE WINNERS BELOW

THE AUSTRALIAN FASHION LAURATE 2017: Dion Lee

Finalists: Edwina McCann (Vogue Australia), Kym Ellery (Ellery), Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett (Romance Was Born), Nicholas Huxley (The Fashion Design Studio)

BEST AUSTRALIAN WOMENSWEAR: Zimmermann

Finalists: Dion Lee, Camilla and Marc, Ellery, Romance Was Born, Zimmermann

BEST AUSTRALIAN MENSWEAR: Jac + Jack

Finalists: Calibre, P Johnson, Song for the Mute, Strateas.Carlucci

BEST AUSTRALIAN RETAILER: Harrolds

Finalists: Bassike, David Jones, Incu, Parlour X

BEST AUSTRALIAN ACCESSORIES: Dinosaur Designs

Finalists: Lucy Folk, Ryan Storer, Sarah & Sebastian, The Daily Edited

ETIHAD AIRWAYS EMERGING TALENT AWARD: P.E Nation

Finalists: Albus Lumen, Double Rainbouu, Kacey Devlin, We Are Kindred

The 10th Australian Fashion Laureate Awards 2017 winners
Credit: Supplied

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