Thursday, May 5, 2011

RAFW S/S 2011-2012. Kate Sylvester


It was a cold night in Randwick but there was an energy about it, a kinetic heat that may have been the white wine or may have been the electricity powering the enormous lights around us. They were the muse of the collection, in a way, those lights, and their heat that drew Sylvester's mythical heroine to the racetrack where she fell into the silk-clad arms of a horseracer. She got sawdust on her hem and dark circles under her eyes, leaving behind her lepidoptery and her silver pins to stalk the showground on pins of her own, feathers on her crown, stilettos making needles of her feet.

So we sat in the grandstand and the lights went all the way down. We found ourselves in baited-breath black and then- music. Julia Nobis (hereafter 'Nobis', the Australian Stam) wafted out in a dress (print as intricate as a moth's wing) and walked a single lap around the show circle, ending up in its paved centre. Her back was to me and her hair, yellow and fine as straw got brighter as the lights slowly rose, a wave of illumination magnifying in intensity until she was in the very midst of it, trapped and still under the gaze of a thousand spectators.

She turned away from the photographer's pit and stalked out of sight, and out came another, and another, and they wore silk, mainly, in jumpsuits and long dresses, racing singlets. They wore high-waisted knickers in leather and dapper boots for boxing or dancing, they wore lace-edged gowns, all pale and interesting, melting into coalblack dresses printed with elliptical beams of white, they wore floorlength charcoal lace. Then punch! a skirt the colour of grass and emeralds, pleated. Another, a dress of yellow, cornfield yellow, beautiful and bright. Then a dress of deep, soft blue, like the sky in high summer. Their hair was matted and long, their eyes were pits of burning kohl.

One by one they walked, posed (one girl forgot to pose and had to double back, bless), and then out they all flowed, walking in concentric circles before amassing on the mound, staring in sheer force and stillness at the photographers, whose flashes lit! lit! lit! the night. It was cool by then but the sheer intensity, the theatricality of the presentation was so absorbing that it wasn't until Kate Sylvester took her bow, kissed Nobis' cheek and they all streamed away that you noticed it, imperceptible, a cloak folding in around your clothes.


all images save the first courtesy of Little Hero PR from

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