The 10 Must-Know Names Of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

Northern hemisphere, it’s only fair to warn you: Australian Fashion Week is underway, and though you might not understand why we celebrate Christmas with bikinis or that our spring collections happen during your fall collections, you will get how universally appealing and truly talented our crop of new designers are.
Some top designers, such as Dion Lee, Sass & Bide, Lover, ksubi, Zimmermann, and Josh Goot have started showing abroad or are opting for more intimate events, so room has opened up on the official schedule for some exciting emerging talent to show. That said, here are our nine designers we're most excited to see this week.
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The Openers: Camilla & Marc

Camilla Freeman-Topper & Marc Freeman celebrated their 10-year anniversary by opening the week. The brother/sister duo are known for creating slick, tightly edited collections (not to mention, this writer's favorite pair of moto-pants). Stocked internationally thanks to Saks 5th Avenue and Net-A-Porter, Camilla & Marc is one label you can trust to set the tone for the entire week.

Photo: Courtesy of Camilla & Marc
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The Cool Ticket: ELLERY

Kym Ellery’s background checks all the boxes of the bona fide cool, from sketchbooks filled during her time at Central Saint Martins to the years spent working amongst RUSSH magazine’s creative team. ELLERY is suitably inspired, decidedly brave, one bold step beyond the expected. Think: strong lines and a certain richness that's just the right degree of intimidating. This is one Australian designer truly creating for the world stage, and a show not to be missed. Up next, according to Kim: “Outlaws. Misfits. Bandits. Renegades.”

Photo: Courtesy of ELLERY
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The Up-And-Comer: Christopher Esber

Mark these words: Christopher Esber is one. to. watch. It’s no happy accident he was written up in this month’s Australian Vogue and dominates hanging space at top Sydney boutique Tuchuzy alongside Kenzo, Acne, Opening Ceremony, and Alexander Wang. He’s a young talent the industry is very, very excited about, and it's fast running out of awards to decorate him with. This sheer-panelled dress? Just one of the 20 we’re coveting. As for what we’ll see from him at Fashion Week, all he’d provide for us is a name: “Nancy ‘Slim’ Keith...”

Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Esber
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The Masters of Wearability : Bec & Bridge

Becky Cooper & Bridget Yorston are known for collections that are young at heart and genuinely ready-to-wear. No strangers to dynamic prints, luxe basics, and well-cut leather, the designers say the Bec & Bridge girl is becoming more sophisticated and sensual. What served as muse for their spring' 13 collection? “We played with lengths and have been inspired by the supermodel movement of the early ‘90s.” It’s like music to our ears.

Photo: Courtesy of Bec & Bridge
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The Showstoppers: Manning Cartell

Last year, the Manning Cartell show had cabs circling and traffic gridlocked around its off-site venue — a clear sign that this show was one the industry deemed not to be missed. Invitees were well-rewarded for making the trek to a converted church, being greeted by one of the most energetic and directional shows of the week. Designer sisters Vanessa, Cheryl, and Gabrielle presented a neon-hued, houndstooth-punctuated, Frida Kahlo-inspired collection with a pace and attitude ensuring that Manning Cartell will be a hot ticket for seasons to come.

Photo: Courtesy of Manning Cartell
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The 2012 Debutantes: Watson x Watson

Sisters Liberty and Somer Watson are set to prove their stellar first offering at MBFWA '12 was no fluke. Last year, they showed a collection worthy of seasoned veterans: clean, elegant, and decidedly wearable. What we’ll see on the runway this time around sounds like the very definition of modern, Australian fashion: “Surfer girl with an uptown twist. Things may get a little SHARKY!” Consider yourself warned.

Photo: Courtesy of Watson x Watson
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The Returning Icon: Alex Perry

A local style icon, Alex Perry’s name is synonymous with Australian fashion. Thanks to more than 20 years of designing impeccable womenswear and seven seasons as a memorably candid judge on Australia’s Next Top Model (plus two more as a designer mentor on Project Runway Australia), Perry is sitting quite comfortably atop his fashion empire, as notorious as Karl Lagerfeld for his permanently affixed sunglasses. His dedication to glamour makes him a celebrity favorite, with standout gowns regularly gracing red carpets and magazine covers alike. After several years of conflicting schedules, '13 marks a triumphant and much-anticipated return to MBFWA for the designer. No doubt we’ll be seeing a healthy dose of classic Alex Perry glamour on the runway.

Photo: Courtesy of Alex Perry
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The Wild One: Romance Was Born

Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales aren’t exactly wallflowers. These two are notorious for extraordinary shows: the glorious pop-artistry and comic-book-hero mania of last year following dark and twisted gardens of runways past, where wigged models emerged on one another’s shoulders making entrances worthy of an Elton John birthday bash. As Tim Blanks reported after its '12 show, "A Romance Was Born production is never going to be an exercise in subtlety." We’re so used to extravagant hair, makeup, and stunning theatrics that the biggest shock of all would be if they offered up a clean, monochrome collection reminiscent of Calvin Klein. But, dare we say, there’s no risk of that. These two are having way too much fun.

Photo: Courtesy of Romance Was Born
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The Kiwi Contingency: Kate Sylvester and Zambesi

No strangers to the Australian market, Zambesi and Kate Sylvester are two New Zealand designers amongst the mix this year. As two of the most established labels in their home country, they couldn’t be more different. Zambesi is bred from dark sensibilities, offering up particularly confident (and flawlessly tailored) menswear, while Kate Sylvester’s eponymous label is known for giving an edge to more feminine designs. New Zealand Fashion Week (held annually in September) showcases autumn designs, therefore these April shows in Sydney make for the opportunity to present spring offerings on an international stage.

Photo: Courtesy of Kate Sylvester; Courtesy of Zambesi