Ethnic Muses

An ancient tribe’s oracle, wandering Bedouins and the Serengetti. As disjointed as that all sounds they were some of the core inspirations seen in the collections presented at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week Day 2. Ethnic print, technique (fringing), clothing have all played muse to so far at RAFW. A few of the most noticable…

Symbols of the ancient occult painted on the bodies of models who dopperlgangered as sylph spectres of an ancient past appeared at Miss Unkon. Unlike her playful collection of last summer, the Miss Unkon girl had grown up. She was no longer interested in origami mobiles and skipping but instead in mysticism and the symbols that would define her. Drawing heavily on gypsy and both American Indian culture, the collection was heavily styled. Accessories featured dark gemstones and rough metal chains while the garments were a mix of heavy and light fabrics cut out in shapes reminiscent of ritual markings/totems and hemlines a la Pochahantas.

Later in the day when the sun was half way in the sky the nomadic tribes of the Sahara inspired Guanabana designs. Turbans and unrestricted draping made the Guanabana girl resort-perfect for places such as Marrakech and Casablanca. However exotic the inspiration was, the show was stolen by the first look’s live albino python; such a beautiful creature. A few fashionistas even managed to compose themselves after letting out a shriek as the snaked catwalked down the runway. With all the beauty of the python aside…the relevance of this neo-Orientalism in the Australian fashion market poses the question of why designers have to “resort” to the “exotic” to sell.

The Serengetti, heart of Africa became what Nookie Beach drew influence from. Starting off with a beautiful African percussion performance, the fashion drum was beaten and out came the models cloaked in tribal printed bikinis, resort capes and harem pants for both the women and men. Although no models of colour were cast at this show it seems that it is perfectly okay to appropriate cultural symbols so that white people can look “cool”. Never mind that Africa is still victim to the effects of post-colonialism and that it is still the poorest continent on Earth.

Sadly the reality of it all is that the fashion world is so far removed from such realities and no matter what is said and done will continue to use ethnic inspirations to feed the corporate machine.
Genesis M.

Images credit: Rachel Kara @


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