20th Annual Western Australian Fashion Awards (WAFA) 2016

Western Australia has much to claim, with its home grown talent nurturing and cultivating the fashion scene, adding another rung on the ladder for West Australian (WA) achievements outside of business and research sectors. 

Emerging designers are pushing boundaries while showcasing their creativity and imagination through the use of textiles, fabrics and technique. Innovative stylists are working with iconic photographers to capture essence and emotion of models and brands they adorn.

On Tuesday night, a myriad of colours and sequins filled the halls of the State Theatre to celebrate Western Australia's only industry awards night - and on this occasion I was invited to the 20th Anniversary of the Annual Fashion Awards presented by the Fashion Council of Western Australia no less.

Hems skirted the floors, heels click-clacked up stairs. Hands sat in snug pant pockets of royal and navy blues while others held comfortably to a glass of champagne. The crowd was as colourful as the clothes they wore, with many attendees mingling with names that had been around for years and others that lingered on the tips of tongues, belonging to those who were fresh faced and beaming.

The State Theatre glowed, its golden pipes glimmering and refracting the light from the city's skyline through the windows. Dreamy lights set the scene for the rubbing of shoulders with Perth's fashionable elite (or in my case the accidental bumping of camera bag against legs). Zoe Van Zanten provided coverage of the event, interviewing the likes of Natalie Rolt, Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan and Jess Picton-Warlow, as Alvin Fernandez ( Ae'lkemi) and Pippa McManus moved through the crowd.

Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan and Zoe Van Zanten

Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan and Zoe Van Zanten

It was during the award interlude that twenty years worth of West Australian fashion strode out on stage. Fluid garments billowed in front of structured scaffolding that had been softened by the likes of Fox and Rabbit's (Rebecca's) floral prowess.

This time presented the crowd an opportunity to reflect on turning points in the design, concept and approach to WA fashion. If an unanimous appreciation for these beautiful designs had not already been fostered, it was during this retrospective parade that it was.

The collection showed off bare shoulders, experiments with chain mail, degrees of embellishments more progressive than the last and My Fair Lady-esque elbow length gloves (is there a chance we could bring these back?). Cat ears made an appearance and smokey-eyed babes watched the audience through tinted glasses. 

Christine Fox won the King Street Walk of Fame Award for her incredible influence and contributions. With a keen eye and skill for headhunting talent, Christine Fox has shaped the industry, increasing WA's profile (we all know just how much talent and beauty lies on the west coast) and changing the lives of gangly young teenagers in more ways than they would ever have suspected. 

Christine 'Mamma Fox' Fox, discoverer of Gemma Ward, Jessica (babe) Gomes, Nicole Trunfio and David Genat.

Christine 'Mamma Fox' Fox, discoverer of Gemma Ward, Jessica (babe) Gomes, Nicole Trunfio and David Genat.

Teagan Sewell - Stylist of the Year

Teagan Sewell - Stylist of the Year

Periscope, Shantha Cokis - Perth City Shopper's Choice

Periscope, Shantha Cokis - Perth City Shopper's Choice

Claudia Todman - Model of the Year  (cheekbones, wow)

Claudia Todman - Model of the Year (cheekbones, wow)

Spotlight on Toni Matičevski

Spotlight on Toni Matičevski

Powering across the stage were models draped in chiffon, sculpted shoulders and glittery lace detailing. The collection on stage was not without its choice of textiles or feminine silhouettes. The models brought attitude, gazes like no other and fresh faces primed and primped by the talent at the Artists@Play Makeup Academy

Leith Groves, Varga Girl - Retailer of the Year

Leith Groves, Varga Girl - Retailer of the Year

Kylie Radford and husband Richard Poulson, Morrison - Designer of the Year and Stephanie Quinlan Award

Kylie Radford and husband Richard Poulson, Morrison - Designer of the Year and Stephanie Quinlan Award

The Awards finished with a bang and sparkle of confetti around winners Kylie Radford and Richard Poulson of Fremantle based fashion label Morrison. It is a long way from the drawing board to the finished product and Kylie Radford reflected on this by stating that "The most important thing is to keep learning, evolving, [...] and have youth around to keep fresh."

The duo have opted to play to their strengths and as such have been massively rewarded for their efforts, opening fifteen stores across Australia and racking in sales of more than one hundred million dollars over the last five years.

Richard encouraged those in the crowd that "you can do anything you put your mind to", ending his thank you speech with a fierce reminder that there is help throughout the room and years upon years of experience, all of which is needed and available to help drive the local fashion industry.

Congratulations to all nominees and award winner for their hard work, groundbreaking designs and for nurturing the fashion scene. 

WA Designer of the Year: Morrison (Kylie Radford and Richard Poulson)

Emerging Designer of the Year: I Love Mr Mittens (Stephanie Caulier)

Retailer of the Year: Varga Girl (Leith Groves)

Photographer of the Year: Chantel Concei

Stylist of the Year: Teagan Sewell

King St Fashion Walk of Fame: Christine Fox

STM People’s Choice Model of the Year: Claudia Todman of Chadwick Models

Perth City Shoppers’ Choice Award: Periscope (Shantha Cokis)

The fashion scene is growing strongly and the work of the Fashion Festival and Council continues to actively support designers, artists and photographers. Artistic vision bringing concepts to life, but not without an active and dedicated team of designers, pattern makers and fabric finders to keep the labels moving steady in order to continue to contribute to WA's fashion industry.