Alice McCall’s show notes read like an excerpt plucked from Guinevere Beck’s diary, a character in television show You. Those incessant, angsty brain ramblings remembering a poignant moment in time. “And that dress, you know the one,” it begins. “That hot-as-hell dress you’ve forever dubbed the ‘lucky one’ – because that’s what he first saw you in, at eleven-fifty-nine on the eve of the year that changed your life.”
While it may read like an adapted screenplay for Netflix, we all know what she’s talking about. In the pursuit of great romance, the way a statement outfit can whisper a pep-talk to your anxious younger self is something we all know too well. “Those moments when we fall in love – with him, with her, with life, with ourselves,” the notes continue.
McCall’s intentions are clear: Her off-the-shoulder, ruffle-trimmed sleeve was probably worn by her consumer in a moment where they felt most brilliant and alive, “our most passionate and awake”. Like the old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. And so, on the designer’s 15th anniversary, the tried and true Alice McCall silhouette remained but like all good birthday parties, there were ample bells and whistles.
“Women hold onto our designs because they hold sentiment,” McCall says. “Our customers often share stories about an Alice McCall piece that represents a special memory or significant moment in their life. That’s why I do what I do.”
The inspiration for McCall’s Resort 2020 collection, Cosmia, was indeed her teenage self. The time was the 70s and the designer remembers rummaging through her mother’s dress-up box, one that was brimming with sparkles – and “silk, lurex and wild techni-colour prints.” It was in this moment (with a Blondie song playing in the background) that McCall and her bowerbird eye says she felt the “thrill of the find” and she wants her consumer to feel that as well. Cue McCall’s most sequin-clad collection to date, revealed on Tuesday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia at Carriageworks in Sydney. Here, there were the signature ruffles everywhere and belle sleeves aplenty. But then just like the physical act of pillaging a dress-up box, well-known silhouettes were updated with chintzy prints, metallic mesh, neon brights and feather trims.
Keepsakes these pieces are indeed. And who knows – they will probably end up in a dress up box somewhere in 50 years time and that thrill will still be the same.
Alice McCall’s Resort 2020 collection, Cosmia, will available in boutiques in September 2019.