I'm going to be deja-vuing over the next few days as I'm blogging for Sportsgirl first before it goes up here but actually, meandering about and re-thunking my words for my own blog, may add an ounce of clarity… or complicate matters depending on the show.  I've got down my initial thoughts on the Romance was Born show in a fit of excitement and fortunately the excitement hasn't subsided and if anything has deepened over the course of a day.  I don't think I could have gotten such a dynamic and impressive start to what has already been a heavily eventful day.  Except posts on said events to go up slower alas…

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I think I may have thrown out the phrase 'cartoon couture' when I last wrote about Romance was Born.  Granted at the show last year, there were dinosaur sound effects and smoking boulders.  Still, I hang my head in shame and retract that phrase because their latest S/S 12 show we saw at the Mitchell Library yesterday (they were hellbent on using that space hence why the show had to go slightly off-schedule…) had definitely elevated beyond being cartoonish.  The collection entitled 'The Oracle' was a vision that fused so many elements together that actually whatever seemingly outlandish elements they employed (mainly towards the end in the more costume-like pieces) made complete and utter sense by the end of the show.  Perhaps the layers of baby's breath adorning the library were an indication of the lighter but ultimately more emphatic touch that Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales had given their collection. 

The Never Ending Story, the kohl-rimmed femmes of the jazz age in the 1920s, then 30s Art Deco patterns, early 20th century aristocratic eccentrics like Marchesa Luisa Casati, imaginary mystics as illustrated in fantasy novels and fictional empresses and from the ancient world – all of that comes together in a collection where certain details can be picked out as being derived from the 1920s but you never get a fully clear picture of their direct influences and that's probably why a dropped waisted dress in the hands of RWB looks mysteriously renewed and rejuvenated.  This partly is thanks to the prints of course which has always been a RWB feature and this time the hand paintings and digital prints are by the Australian contemporary artist Neil, in line with RWB's ongoing collaborations with local artists.  The prints glint with the surface detailing of amulets and precious jewels as well as Aztec-looking pattern formations, Art Deco skyscrapers and printed pearls, which actually makes the clothes decorative in an approchable way, in that you want to wear and share their superbly focused vision.  There's also a newly found lightness in this collection where embellishment derived from pure fantasy never feel heavy-handed or for want of a better word, clunky…

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The dramatics of course amplify over the course of the show and I get the feeling that Anna and Luke are never going to fully fall in line with what is expected of them as a selling fashion label but instead their one-off pieces and costumes that really tell a tale to spectators live on in this collection, inspired by the magical land of Fantasia where the Empress' magical talisman Auryn represent two worlds.  You almost want an accompanying graphic novel with Romance was Born's collections because their tale is told only through intricate surface detailing.  Still the show itself played its part in telling their story as it was accompanied by the Sydney Youth Orchestra as well as an Australian Youth Choir which added pomp to these Queens, Empresses, Contessas and Maharanis that emerged as a triumphant end to this show. 

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I hate beginning sentances with "You really had to BE there to see it…" but honestly, seeing the final line-up of models at the back of the library honestly reminded me of a tableaux vivant… like something that might have graced the Windmill Theatre except of course the models aren't nude…

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I could also boil this post down to this one picture where one of the models from the latter half of the collection emerged from the library to meet a sea of photographers and onlookers magically crowding around her, fallen under the Romance was Born fantasy…

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I'm not usually one to point out celebrities at shows but I had to with Cate Blanchett, who isn't one of those types that turns up to everything including the opening of an envelope… she's a long terms supporter of Romance was Born and yes, I did want to say to her… "OMG – I rewatched Elizabeth the other day and holy crap, I keep forgetting how utterly brilliant you were in it!"

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Comments (31)

  1. PvdH says:

    The details are incredible in the clothes.
    And whoop, I love Cate as well.
    PvdH
    http://www.thepvdhjournal.com

  2. Kat George says:

    Le sigh. Wish I was there. It looks so so beautiful! xx

  3. Sumo says:

    amazing collection
    i lived the details
    so beautiful truly inspiring

  4. wow, crazy hair styles! inspiring

  5. Petra says:

    Crazy outfits! A bit starwars inspired!?

  6. Megan Guernsey says:

    Looks Egyptian! I love it! Reminds me of Cleopatra or maybe, like someone else said, like Pricess Leah of Star Wars!

  7. Wow to the location and the choir. I like the outfit with the multicoloured beads…

  8. Beautiful.. If only clothes like this were affordable.. Love the pigtails and the blue and orange outfit!!

  9. january says:

    these are absolutely stunning, so much detail, layering and depth. you could look at them for ages and still keep discovering new facets! i’m in love with all the headpieces as well!
    january, x
    jessicajanuary.com

  10. Maya says:

    I love that you’re blogging for Sportsgirl; I’ve loved that store ever since I went to Sydney on vacation.
    The collection is amazing! Thanks for introducing me to a great new designer.

  11. Kit says:

    Yep I’ve watched film the other day, can’t help but in love with the armoury costume that Cate wore in the battle (she wasn’t in battle you know what i mean) against the Armada. Love love love.

  12. Olga Walker says:

    Its fantastic to have a front seat but as someone has already commented (sigh) I wish I was there too – loved the photos:):)
    Olga from http://revedoa@blogspot.com

  13. Jess says:

    Cate! She is flawless.

  14. Wow those dresses are crazy!!! The last dress is awesome!!!
    So lucky you got to meet her!!!

  15. These dresses are so fancy and unique!

  16. Miranda says:

    I see some major sci-fi influence here, too–though it could be a kind of coincidence, since some of the influences you cited (Aztec patterns, royal-type embellishment) do often show up in sci-fi costuming. For me, what really brings in the sci-fi, though, is the unusual and angular shapes–it has that aspect of alternate practicality, rather than impracticality, that’s a major aspect of trying to imagine how people might dress in a made-up world. (Also the way headdresses and hair meld into one unified object.)

  17. Sabine says:

    Fantastic photos!!
    I love this collection, so many inspiring textures!
    Sabine
    x

  18. This is such a beautiful post. Beauty and the Beast type library, with Queen Amidala type headgear? Gorgeous! I love it!
    x Fab x
    Alexa
    http://www.alexastrautmanis.blogspot.com

  19. WOW so cool! Love the first dress! Amazing post love! XO Raspbery & rouge
    http://raspberry-rouge.com

  20. WOW so cool! Love the first dress! Amazing post love! XO Raspbery & rouge
    http://raspberry-rouge.com

  21. WOW so cool! Love the first dress! Amazing post love! XO Raspbery & rouge
    http://raspberry-rouge.com

  22. Ella says:

    I think this collection is heavily influenced by the costumes of the Ballet Russe that have been on exhibit in Canberra this past year. Most of the shapes, embellishment and patterns seem to be lifted from the costumes.

  23. Jay says:

    You do realize that the Neverending Story is a movie right? You kind of make it sound like the RWB designers thought up the whole AURYN/Fantasia concept on their own. Either way I love that they used it as their inspiration :)

  24. Lissy says:

    AHHHHHHCATEEEE!!!

  25. susie_bubble says:

    Jay: Yes I know the movie but actually have never watched it weirdly – never entered my childhood alas… will correct my wording but the press release also went along the same lines weirdly…

  26. Karen says:

    I have a serious girl crush on Cate.. very jealous

  27. crazy, crazy collection! but I love how everything, despite it’s variety came up with something good like this!

  28. jason matlo says:

    I love this post . I love that you’re blogging for Sportsgirl; I’ve loved that store ever since I went to Sydney on vacation. Reminds me of Cleopatra or maybe, like someone else said, like Pricess Leah of Star Wars!

  29. paula Ibanez says:

    I get goosebumps reading this post and looking at the pics…I have been a fan of romance was born since they started and I am so so glad they are getting the respect they respect!! And… to top it all off.. Cate Blanchet!! my hollywood favourite!
    You just nailed it for me Sussie!!

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