The Story Behind Australia Fashion Week's Most Talked-About Show

For designer Thomas Puttick, his debut showing on the MBFWA calendar served as a homecoming of sorts: The Australian-bred creative had stints in London and New York (under the tutelage of Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton and Alexander Wang, respectively) before deciding to repackage all of this international fashion experience for a consumer in his own backyard. "Translating my [learnings] to the Australian market has been about pulling out different lessons from each company I’ve worked in and piecing together my ideal practice," Puttick told Refinery29. "For me, it’s about highlighting an artist and looking to translate their work into a story." In a move many might consider rather bold for a first impression, the designer decided to pursue said story — to international acclaim — through his models.
Puttick drew the attention of media outlets from across the globe with his eclectic casting, eschewing the traditional mannequins in favor of women he personally found inspiring, of varying shapes, sizes, ages, and professions. "I want an audience, particularly the younger audience that looks through photos online, to see an empowering point of reference," the designer explained. "I wanted our show to highlight everyone’s potential to engage and empower beyond just the way you look."
Among the "muses" Puttick selected to showcase the resort '18 collection was Dr. Anne Aly, Australia's first female Muslim member of Parliament. "She's so engaging, supportive, and down to earth," the designer said. "I really enjoyed having her as part of this and have always admired her voice within political dialogue."
The casting relayed a message of inclusivity, and served as a much-needed reminder to designers in the U.S. about the public platform the catwalk affords them. After all, The Fashion Spot's most recent runway report painted only a cautiously optimistic picture of what model diversity looks like in 2017 — one that left much to be desired from the showings in New York, London, Milan, and Paris.
"I used to struggle with working in fashion," Puttick admitted. "But I realized that as an industry, we have an engaged audience that will look at what we do and will, at the least, see the messages that we put forward."
"Anyone with an audience has the potential to incite change," the designer continued. "When we present considered messages, I would hope that we do so with the intent to create positive progression." Here's hoping more of Puttick's peers take a note from his playbook, and echo his efforts to share more than just clothing with their devotees. That's a trend we can all get behind.

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