Image: Ginger & Smart

When the pandemic began it was difficult to predict how businesses would be operating a year down the track. How economic downturn would affect sales, how border closures would affect extra spending and whether lockdowns would mean the lone survivors would be supermarket delivery services and Netflix. However, serendipitously, our era of pessimism resulted in some unexpected growth and resilience.

Perhaps this is why fashion week is so artfully expressing this mood, this year. One of optimism, of confidence. And none more so than today at Ginger & Smart – returning to Afterpay Australian Fashion Week with a new look, a hopeful outlook and a fluid lightness that was impossible to ignore. Sisters Genevieve and Alexandra Smart’s label is a darling of the Australian fashion landscape. Since 2002 they have created collections that celebrate ethereal luxury. But while Resort ’22 still expresses this core ethos, there was a supercharged spirit of joy that made Luminesce one of their most special and memorable yet.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images)

Held in one of the largest, most imposing spaces at Sydney’s Carriageworks, the room filled quickly with fashion faces and Australian notables. This is a brand inherently adored. So, to audibly hear the oohs and ahhs from guests as the first looks appeared was uplifting. Choreographed by Davide Giovanni, who also appeared on stage in a performance-art capacity, the models sauntered the runway, weaving between the rows of seats (a welcome idea!) before taking position atop a mirrored platform.

The collection itself was modern fairytale – heavenly silks in an evolution of watercolours, all toying with volume and extended silhouettes. Bulbous sleeves, folding drapery, layered bustles and slinky harems complementing an array of gowns that invited drop-waists, A-line haltering and multiple uses of sashes. Colours (oh the colours!!) were by way of monochromatic blending in sherbet pinks, hazelnuts and ice mints as well divine prints in abstract botanicals. Many looks were also styled back with chic, oversized leather bags that looked so harmonious they became less of an accessory and more an extension of the ensemble.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images)
Image: Ginger & Smart
Image: Ginger & Smart

The collection also skilfully employed shredded silk to reign on some of the most show-stopping dresses. Tucked, gathered tufts of fabrics with a tactility that made for a most mesmerising soft-coral effect. A look that morphed what would have been a simple streamlined cut into a gown destined for the red carpet.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images)

Prior to their show Genevieve Smart told GRAZIA “There is an undeniable feeling of re-emergence and as we discover the joy of dressing up again. We had the desire to push new proportions and volume and fresh colour as we enter into a new era. The last year has actually been incredibly busy as we’ve navigated our brand through such a tumultuous time of change. Our loyal and passionate Ginger & Smart team have been incredible.”

Ginger & Smart’s longtime dedication to superior quality manufacturing and fabrication is not only a major part of the brand’s allure but nicely pours into their conscious nature, too. While they sustainably source natural fibres of silk, linen, hemp and Tencel, the fact that any Ginger & Smart piece remains a long term investment is of ethical advantage as well.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: A model walks the runway during the Ginger & Smart show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2021 Resort ’22 Collections at Carriageworks on June 01, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

It’s unusual to see guests so instantly, purely romanticised by a collection. A crowd not simply digesting looks, but quite likely mentally adding to cart. The Smart sisters (in both senses of the word) have clearly emerged from a year of uncertainty with a mission to reignite optimism at large. What better way to show the world you’re back than with a wardrobe of glorious, colourful couture? And, may we add, many of the pieces included invisible pockets. Yes, pockets. Because while optimism via beauty is wonderful, the addition of utility moves the whole idea into 2021. Purposeful, sustainable, helpful fashion. Yes please.

thoughts?