Marina Afonina is something of a creative renegade. Someone whose every move since starting her label Albus Lumen in 2015 has resulted in cult following. Her pretence for design has always been clean, modern cuts supported by effortless, understated style. It sounds so simple. But such cornerstone design is incredibly refined. The ability to restrain from busy trend but still invoke powerful, memorable design takes expert charge.
Albus Lumen is the byproduct of Afonina’s headspace and her many years in the fashion industry. If you are well versed in what’s of fashion favour then it’s likely you already own an Albus or two. Perhaps a tailored jacket, a slouchy trouser, a slim-ribbed tank or a streamlined dress, pieces the label has become renowned for.
Resort 22, launching yesterday via Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, was a cultivation of subversive trend and custom whole wardrobing. Pieces that can mix and match and form a personal canvas for the season. Held at the label’s new Société space in Sydney’s Bondi, Afonina’s vision this time was entitled Evadere. A collaborative collection that centred on fluid, romantic escapism. Yet, this escapism was not so much about literal traveling, but rather a spiritual transcendence. While the pieces would indeed suit a traveller’s life, their ethos is set in artistic meaning.
Physically however, the collection is equally enlightening. Tailored hero pieces that can’t really be pigeonholed by intended destination or intended wearer or even intended styling. Pieces that play with volume and elongation and texture and proportion. Afonina hints at the textures we’re sure to be obsessing over next – crinkled muslins, raw linens, ivory silks and ironic crochets – cohesively connected by her obtuse muse: the tactility of wrapping and binding. Cuts included wrap suiting, asymmetrical maillots, fisherman trousers and reimagined boleros all customised by muted seaside accents by way of netted fishing bags, mesh slippers and sculptural gold jewellery by Ryan Storer.
Evadere was presented via an intimate sitting and viewing of a film by Duc Thinh Dong. The ethereal piece was projected on heavy canvas in a textured white room set by candlelight. It was a sensory moment of both inspiration and reflection, models poised beside fabric-draped plinths, carrying a Botticelli subtlety.
Already a Woolmark Prize nominee, Afonina is a leader among young creatives in Australia and internationally. Her seasonal offerings are inspiringly refined and offer a welcome reminder to just how remarkable independent design can be.