Designer Akira Isogawa closed this years Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW/ with a joyous and colourful show which was not only one of the highlights of this weeks schedule but also lead to a collective sigh of relief.

More than 85 designers showed their collections on the runway during this year’s Spring/Summer 2008/09 Fashion Week, which was held 28 April - 2 May at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal with a stunning view of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the skyline.

After a disappointing Fashion Week 2007 organiser IMG managed to coax some fashion powerhouses back onto the runway and in the front row. More than 100 international delegates including overseas buyers and journalists were said to have made the long way to Australia. What they saw was the essence of Australian fashion. Among the most talked about shows of the week was Sass & Bide’s youthful diffusion line vie. It was feminine rather than being girly and one of the few shows that was not dominated by the signature piece of Australian design: the dress.

The dress was everywhere - in every length, colour and shape. Probably the only thing all dresses had in common was that they were much more tailored than last years babydoll and thus appeared to be more grown up and sophisticated without losing the typical quirky Australian design edge.

With the dominance of the dress it wasn’t surprising that even the guys couldn’t resist. Luckily it is highly likely that the dresses modelled on the Material Boy runway will be worn as oversized shirts once they hit the streets.

Among others the innovative Material Boy collection contributed to the feeling that Australian Fashion Week is gaining back self-confidence without being too inhibited by trends set in Europe. Probably the strong sense of being rooted in Australia will in the future help to create many more individual, interesting shows and even see Australian designers being brave enough to try their creativity in other areas than their signature dress. The foundation is laid.

- Carolin Schoengarth

Photo: A look from the Material Boy collection