Design newcomers return to the forefront of Australian Fashion Week

In a renovated warehouse gallery, Australia’s next generation of designers left the crowd speechless.

“My skin is crawling. I’m inspired,” one viewer commented.

“Amazing. Nothing you’ve ever seen before,” says another.

Cameron Hill, Liandra Gaykamangu, Ruby Pedder and Xi Wu’s debut collections grace the Australian Fashion Week Next Gen runway.

Founded in 1996, the program has launched the careers of top industry names including BEC + BRIDGE, CAMILLA AND MARC and Akira.

Gaikamangu swimwear brand Leandra opened its main show, fusing contemporary Aboriginal Australian culture with premium designer swimwear.

Launched in summer 2018, the brand’s signature prints are inspired by the life experiences of the designer Yolengu, a woman from North-Eastern Arnhem Land.

When asked how she feels about breaking into Australia’s iconic swimwear industry, Gaikamangu is candid.

“I was really scared,” she told the AP.

But now I feel more relieved than I have felt in a long time.

“To have the opportunity to be seen and to be seen as an upcoming designer… that’s very important.”

She followed what Ruby Pedder described as, “casual couture”.

Her designs’ delicate art forms and illustrations are inspired by the violence and realism associated with the ‘riot grrrl’ movement.

“This is the first time I’ve seen my clothes move. I’ve never done an airport,” she told AP.

What followed was a story of two cultures meeting, where traditional and new design techniques intertwine to reflect Xi Wu’s bicultural identity.

“It’s very important to me because this is something I started during uni and now I’ve started working with other designers,” she told AAP.

“Elevation is awesome. One step at a time.”

Cameron Hill closed the show in a self-described “reimagined granny-esque lace embroidery dress.”

Intuition, emotion, longing and curiosity drive her work through timeless imagery and rich textiles.

“I’m a big believer in whatever life gives you, that’s the way it should be,” Hill told the AP.

“So when I heard about being nominated for next general, I was like, ‘This is my calling.’

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