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Swimwear Retrospective

By Brigitte Topping

Images of perfection

The image of the perfect bathing beauty came to rise in the early 1930’s when neck lines began to plunge, sleeves were removed and hem lines were raised. The invention of materials such as nylon and spandex saw for figure hugging garments and thin shoulder straps, which were more appropriate for tanning. Hollywood glamour models and movies stars took a liking to the more provocative style of beachwear and began to be photographed by the paparazzi wearing the garments. A young Jane Wyman was one of the first celebrities to be photographed in a two-piece swimsuit on a beach in California in 1935.

By the 1950’s the swimsuit was being used a career prop by stars such as Esther Williams, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot as it showed their sex appeal and caused a media flurry.

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Evolution of the swimsuit

The evolution of the swimsuit began to take off in the industrial revolution. Prior to this, bathing was reserved solely for health reasons. People who were ill would enter hot baths for a dip and then retreat from the water. During the revolution and introduction of travel, people became more drawn to the idea of bathing in ocean however during the 18th century swimsuits were still a heavy and impractical gown due to women’s need to be modest whilst on their seaside holiday. As times changed during the 19th century and women were granted the right to compete at the Olympics, the need for a swimsuit that was practical for the sport of swimming became a necessity. Annette Kellerman became a role model for young women with the design of her bathing suit that made it possible for women to swim rather than just bathe. Her design resembled the male swimsuit which was figure hugging and used Madeline Vionette’s method of bias cutting to ensure stretch, comfort and also gave a flattering shape to the body.

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As the years went on, things really began to take off for swimwear post world one when geometric prints and colours became more widely available instead of the plain black style. By the 1930’s swimwear was making its journey from a sporting wear to a fashion item. Swimming caps became very popular which was due to the sporting crossover, however, by the 1960’s these wear a fully fledged fashion piece which were commonly embellished with beads and flower pieces.

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During the 1950’s the bikini really started to become a more accepted swimsuit. It was banned from beauty pageants in 1951 however was reintroduced soon after. As the years progressed, boundaries where pushed in the designs of swimwear. Fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, who in the mid-1960s created the first topless swimsuit, introduced the modern thong or T-back in 1974. The catholic community was appalled when Sports Illustrated magazine started photographing their cover models in the controversial swimsuit. By the late 80’s, g-string bikinis were considered the normal along the beaches of brazil and slowly the rest of the world got on board with the risqué style and it was seen along the coast lines of the world.

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Today we have made a full circle, retro styles are becoming more and more popular, for instance, the 1950’s style high- waisted bikini has made a come back in a big way because it is ideal for women who want to look sexy without showing off too much of their bodies.

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Swimwear has come along way throughout the years, starting off as a gown dedicated to simply bathing for health reasons, to becoming a sporting piece for the Olympic pool to now being a fashion statement for many poolside and beach ladies!

Future vision

Australian swimwear is becoming a massive growth area of our exported fashion industry. Labels such as Zimmermann are leading the way in the export market, being stocked in huge departments stores across the globe such as Barney’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, David Jones and other independent boutiques around the world.

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Zimmermann was founded in Sydney in 1991 by two sisters, Nicky and Simone. It started off as a ready to wear line, the girls took a brave step and decided to fuse ready to wear with swimwear and present it to the world stage, soon enough they were standing the fashion elite. Zimmermann’s bold original prints, beautifully made one-pieces and sculptural bikinis create a new point of reference in flattering, sexy and stylish swimwear. Here was a quintessentially Australian design aesthetic and as the Sydney Morning Herald so nicely put it, “If Sydney was personified, she’d be bronzed, brazen and wearing a Zimmermann bikini, so synonymous has the sunny label become with Australian style.”

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As Zimmerman leads the way on world stage for Australian swimwear, smaller labels such as Triangl swimwear are really taking off due to the rise of the social media generation. Triangl was established in 2012 with a simple, easy to use online store and an instagram account which, has now become a viral hit. Pictures of beautiful girls in exotic locations wearing these extremely basic yet visually appealing togs that make you believe if you purchase these bikinis you will look like a model!

Australian designers are really embracing our beach culture and presenting it to the world to show we are not to be looked over as serious designers of beautiful swimwear!

I – G – G – Y

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If you are currently asking yourself ‘Who that?’ instead of ‘Who dat?’, you definitely need to keep up with the talented piece of Australian that is Iggy Azalea. This week we are loving ourselves some Iggy, as she continues to leave her mark on the music and fashion world.  Not only is this girl in the fast lane from LA to Tokyo but she is also in the fast lane to becoming one of the most influential gals in the industry. This year alone she has topped numerous charts – breaking records previously accomplished by only the Beatles, rocked the crap out of yellow tartan in her Clueless inspired music video (love it), been cast in the next Fast and Furious movie and now she’s set to host MTV’s ‘House of Style’ in the lead up to the Video Music Awards.

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As a teenager, she dropped out of high school and moved to Miami to pursue her dream and even after constant scrutiny from not-so-Iggy-fans and even fellow artists she continues to stick it to the man, being her and doing her thing. If we creatives here at FOM can learn anything from her it’s not just how to be fancy but also the power of passion, determination and resilience when chasing your dream.

Rachel Baros

Dots vs Stripes

By Brigitte Topping

 It’s been the question on fashionista’s lips since the dawn of time, ok maybe not that long, but still, Dots vs Stripes is a call EVERYONE has to make at some point in their life. Stripes represent power, boldness and significance whereas dots represent fun full stop. So when do you choose the stripe and when the dot? I decided to organize a ‘scenario’ type situation to solve the dilemma. Because you never know when you’re going to need this crucial information next time you are freaking out at your wardrobe doors!

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You have been asked out on a blind date. Only information you have got from your bestie is “Yeah he’s cute and smart just do it” Helpful, thanks, you think to yourself. You don’t know anything about this person your going to meet in the very near future so you stand, cluelessly, staring blankly into the deep hole that you call a clothes cupboard. Then it happens. The terrifying question…. Dots or stripes?

You don’t know your date, how are you supposed to know whether your supposed to be a powerhouse magnate and walk in wearing bold stripes or a fun and flirtatious girly girl and stroll in (or skip, whatever floats your boat really) wearing that super cute polka dot Zimmerman dress you broke your wallet to buy on the weekend.

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Before you start consecutively pulling out an eyebrow hair one by one because of stress, don’t fear, Brigitte’s here with a pretty damn good plan of attack! First, do you really care about this date? Does the amount of stress that’s currently being undertaken equal the amount of care you have for the person you are about to meet? If the answers no, get dressed stop being a baby and walk out that door. If yes move on to the next question.

Are you a power magnate? If no, why are you trying to be one? Probably a sensible question if that’s what you plan on being all night rocking a pin stripe suit. If you were just thinking cute stipe shirt, hot new silk pants you picked up from Sass and Bide, paired with those jimmy choo pumps that you swore you would wear every day to convince yourself the $800 was totally worth it, then play on. Powerful, sexy, causal nailed it.

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As for dots, does the dress make you want to sing “sunshine lollipops and rainbows” and also make you speak in a southern accent? Probably not the outfit for you. We don’t need the guy thinking you have 12 cats at home and watch Grease on repeat. If you put the dress on and just feel you ooze femininity in a non cat loving way and want to wear those sky high Louboutin’s to give you edge. Do It! Or play it safe, wear black and pair it with one of dinosaur designs beautiful new necklaces from the ‘Art of black and white’ range, spots, tick, over the top, nope.

I do realize I have left you in a bit of a conundrum if you can rock or sexy causal get up and your extra feminine outfit but hey I got you this far babe you’re on your own now! Your other option is too just rock both just like how my mother dressed me back in the 90’s, cheers mum. Good Luck!

Kill Casey

By Caitlin Bennet

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You can’t ask for more than a night of champagne, stunning fashion and the Brisbane skyline. Saturday the 7th of June was the official launch of Kill Casey’s first collection, AW14 Season of Monarchs. The Fashion Observer #4thecreatives team was ecstatic to be a part of the toast for the launch of this cutting edge and empowering collection.

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We travelled up the elevator, sky high above the hustle and bustle of Fortitude Valley below, into the glamour of the Sky & Lotus rooftop bar. As the doors slid open, we were greeted by an exotic girl, wearing a metallic khaki cropped top, with a matching futuristic skirt that fell to the floor with geometric lattice cut outs. Already blown away, the girl in red caught our eye next. The pin up, platinum blonde wore a sheer, polka dot couture gown, with luxurious lingerie visible underneath.

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Models were also scattered throughout the party, sporting bold shoulders, low cut backs, asymmetric hem lines, feathered skirts, sheer panels and metallic spikes. International model, Jessica Green showed off a figure hugging, sexy black polka dot dress. The powerful design duo behind the label, Amie Casey and Kamilla Rosena had welcomed us into their colourful couture world.

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Amie and Kamilla told us that they are on a mission to empower women through fashion.

“Our stock is not for the shy of heart, but rather the woman that loves to turn heads, make a statement and rise above the crowd.”

With a vision to bring the fantasy world of couture off the runway and into the wardrobes of real women, their designs are a perfect fusion of everyday trend wear and couture.

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As we sipped champagne, they revealed to us how one day they were flicking though magazines, perfecting looks by other designers. Always critiquing fashion together, discussing how they could make designs better, they realised they should design their own collection that day.

Perfectionists at heart, they met many hurdles during the creative process. Always learning and adapting, they continued to perfect their garments, and worked hard to bring together their modern and cutting edge collection, which is only an introduction to what is to come.

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After such a successful launch, we asked them their vision for the future of the label. They both hastily replied, “We are taking over the world!” Step one is online domination. They plan to expand through social media, networking and creating a following through Instagram and Facebook. They also plan to create a Tumblr account so they can connect globally with people sharing the same fashion inspiration. The strategy is to fill a niche market with their couture driven designs, but also set boutique pricing that is not out of reach for the everyday consumer.

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All proceeds from the event went to the 28TooMany charity, which was created to eradicate female genital mutilation. Supporting women’s charities and empowering women through fashion will remain at the heart of their business ethos as they expand the label.

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Daring, edgy, bold, powerful, sexy and fashion forward; Kill Casey is designed to attract admiration and turn heads, giving confidence to everyday women. Fashion Observer Magazine will be continuing to watch Kill Casey’s journey. Blink, and you might miss their climb to the top.

Mango Rains – Taking the Path Less Travelled

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

The Arena night club was dimly lit with an underground vibe at the RAW Brisbane Showcase on Friday night. Nonetheless, vivid prints sparked on the runway in the final fashion show. Mango Rains was responsible for the colour mayhem as they launched their new collection and their first menswear line!

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For the girls, flamboyant cropped tops were paired with flirty mini-skirts or cigarette pants. The boys were bold in printed blazers and matching Bermuda shorts. I first saw the Mango Rains stall lighting up the Young Designer Markets at the beginning of the year, and have been curious to know more about the non-for-profit label ever since.

Carly Shearman and I were lucky enough to go backstage before the show, and meet Virginia Bailey, the founder of Mango Rains.

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Virginia Bailey worked and travelled throughout Africa for almost 2 years. She met countless beautiful and inspirational women. Not only were they fearless fashion print clashers, they had an amazing work ethic and strong family values. They worked incredibly hard every day, to provide their family with food and water, something so simple which we take for granted in Australia.

At the same time, she experienced the poverty first hand. She saw the inadequate education and lack of opportunities available, especially for women. One of the most shocking realisations for her was that Female Genital Mutilation was still the norm. Women would have their daughters circumcised without question. She witnessed a young girl die from infection after her circumcision. Seemingly unshaken, her mother returned to work the next day, and continued with the daily struggle.

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Death is the norm in Africa. Virginia knew she had to make a change.

On her return to Australia, she left her career in mining engineering, to create Mango Rains, fashion with a twist and a conscience! The vision is to give independence and empowerment to women in developing nations.

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The colourful garments are designed and made in Australia, but are made from African wax print fabric. The net profit from every sale is reinvested in educating and training women in developing nations, to help them support themselves and their families.

After selling through numerous markets and their online store, Mango Rains has already raised enough money to start a sewing school in Western Mombasa, Kenya. The school’s is teaching the local women sewing skills and basic business knowledge so they can start their own seamstress business or gain employment as a tailor. Giving these women independence, is giving them freedom.

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And this is only the first Mango Rains project. Mango Rains will also be supporting its other charities 28 too Many, Orphans and Widow Care. Charity will always remain at the heart of Mango Rains, and this is truly reflected in its name. I asked Virginia how she chose the name Mango Rains, and it’s meaning had so much more beauty and symbolism than I could have anticipated.

“In West Africa, during the middle of dry season when everything is almost desert, there are two days of rain. This rain, known as the Mango Rains, ripens all the mango trees, so throughout a desert landscape you can see all the pops of colour from the mangoes. I thought it represented the fabric colours within a city landscape, also it represented hope and prosperity which is what I hope for the brand and the people that it helps.”

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Not many people would choose to give up a flourishing career to start a non-for profit business, aimed at helping people on the other side of the world. For many of us, it is an unfortunate case of out of sight, out of mind. Upon returning to her comfortable home, Virginia Bailey didn’t forget about all the inspirational women she met in Africa who were living a daily struggle. Now, her small act of bravery has created a positive, new direction for countless lives.

For the rest of us, the path less travelled doesn’t seem so scary if we get to wear a loud and festive, suit set along the way.

Caitlin Bennet

QT Fashion Week and Awards

Backstage Pass with Anna Hulm

I arrived at QT Fashion Week and Awards just as the Up and Coming High Tea was beginning. I am lucky enough to work for Anna Hulm, one of Australia’s best emerging designers selected for the runway event. This meant I had a backstage pass to all the action!

After organising the final backstage preparations for the show, we had a champagne toast for our hard work preparing for the show the day before. We were glad that the last minute sewing, de-tagging and sourcing of 15 pairs of shoes for the models was over, and we could sit back and relax.

Miisha Collection opened the runway show once all the guests were settled in the Grand Ballroom. The collection was a perfect mix of lace and leather, creating a luxe futuristic look. There was plenty of lace worked over fitted, sometimes sheer pencil skirts, teamed with sexy bralettes in a bold monochrome colour scheme. Strategically placed peekaboo panel cut outs were combined with perfectly with contoured slim silhouettes painting a desirable illusion. To describe the collection in three words, I would say: sexy, elegant and timeless.

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Next, Anna’s dresses took over the runway. In her collection, bouquet, cherry blossom and abstract paintings by famous artists such as Cezanne, Klimt and Van Gough are printed onto soft silks which drape the body with breathtaking movement and flow.

Working in the store with Anna, I have seen women with different shapes, sizes and complexions instantly feel beautiful and confident when they slip into her silk dresses. Women light up when they wear Anna’s inclusive designs, because simultaneously feeling elegant and comfortable is such a rarity. You could feel the model’s confidence as the luxurious silk dresses billowed freely behind them, while they glided down the runway in their opulent velvet shoes.

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The next collection was Lucid. Magenta and blue colours were swirled through dream like aquatic prints. Bright pink and orange were colour blocked in shift dresses which had a perfect fusion of cocktail and corporate appeal. It was the dream collection for the working girl who knows how to party.

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In the final show, the models transformed into Amazonian soldiers as Mariam Seddiq’s designs hit the runway. The embellishment, soft suiting, bold shoulders and powerful draping stole the show. The collection was edgy yet feminine, and it was so refreshing to see the models look empowered and sexy without being revealing. As Beyonce, Run the World pumped throughout the ballroom her lyrics rung true, “My persuasion can build a nation. Endless power, with our love we can devour.”

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I ran into Mariam backstage after the show and she complemented my leather gloves! I knew they had been a big risk to wear. So when she asked me where I found them, I instantly forgot about all of the mini cupcakes I had left behind on the high tea table due to my lack of grip. I am also one of the only non- superheroes in the modern age that has been quoted saying, “I wish I was getting more wear out of my cape.” So when Mariam swung on her classic, yet futuristic black cape and glided out of the backstage room, my jaw dropped and I really fell in love. Yes, I have started saving for an upgrade to Mariam’s Antoinette Cape!

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Thank you to QT Fashion Week and Awards for choosing four inspiring designers, who all presented an array of creative designs. It is so important that the fashion industry continues to support emerging designers, so that fashion continues to innovate and evolve. These days, so much fashion is at our fingertips. One day you can wear a lace pencil skirt and bralette set, the next, a work of art vibrantly printed onto a silk maxi dress. Aquatic octopus prints to work or a bejewelled cape on Saturday night! The fashion world is your oyster!

Caitlin Bennet

Runway to Miss World Charity Fashion Show

Courtney Thorpe and Hayley Wilson threw the ultimate backyard party last weekend.

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Beauty with a purpose was the theme of the Runway to Miss World charity fashion show on Friday the 11th of July held at Capulet Bar in Fortitude Valley.

The Miss World Australia National Finalists donated all funds raised on the night to Variety Australia, a national not-for-profit organisation which empowers sick or disadvantaged Australian children to live, laugh and learn.

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Leaning on the white picket fences, the crowd relaxed and sipped champagne and cocktails under the stars throughout the crisp winter night. Illuminated by fairy lights, the beautiful models strutted down the turf runway in beautiful dresses from Seduce, Aje, Sacha Drake, Bec & Bridge and Nicola Finetti provided by Rent my Rack. To wrap up the show Courtney and Hayley also paraded down the runway showing off their pageant poses.

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Photography: Ross Stevenson

The event was a huge success and over $1500 was raised from the evening. Be careful not to take these best friends and powerful duo at face value. They are using their beauty, brains and charm to make a positive difference and help others. Any last minute donations are welcome before they compete in The Miss World Australia national finals at the Oaks Hotel Resorts Cypress Lakes in the Hunter Valley this weekend.

Caitlin Bennet

Birk ‘n’ Socks

Some things are just plain wrong, like decaf coffee or Miley Cyrus. In contrast, sometimes something can be so wrong that it works. So completely and utterly ridiculous, it actually begins to make sense. Like Kanye West’s love affair with himself, Lady Gagas meat dress and dipping McDonalds fries in your milkshake (no, just me?)

Recently there has been a fashion faux-nomenum that could not be a more perfect example of this. Socks and sandals! It’s that age-old cliché that our granddads have used to embarrass us year after year on family holidays and its come back to haunt us.

But whatever your opinion may be on this look, you can’t deny its practicality. Sandals for the ultimate in laid-back comfort combined with hosiery to keep your feet warm and disguise those neglected winter, pedicure free nails.

It went almost unnoticed in Burberry and Prada’s Spring/Summer 2013 collections but their male models were paving the way for this unlikely trend with metallic and two-tone slides over chunky knits.

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Then the über hipsters got wind and started brandishing garish tube socks under their Birks, and now it’s hitting the mainstream. So after much skepticism and a fair bit of persuasion, here at FOM, I think we’re hooked.

You can dress the look down with flats and black on black, or be more daring with platforms and patterns. It’s a fun look with so many different possibilities, we thought we’d give you a kick-start and find the best in socks and sandals to mix and match for any occasion. So have a look at our pick of the bunch, channel your inner granddad and enjoy.

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The ultimate romper stomper boot, these chunky Jeffrey Campbell’s could ease you into the socks n sandals look. With subtle cut outs at the side they lend themselves perfectly to wearing bright funky socks underneath giving that pop of colour that will jazz up a daytime outfit or compliment a LBD.

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Sports Luxe is a big trend at the moment and fashion blogger India Rose pulls it off perfectly with Adidas slides and chunky sports socks. This is a great androgynous look if you’re not a heels and dresses kind of girl (and easy because you can always raid your boyfriends sock drawer)

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It just wouldn’t be right to talk about socks and sandals and overlook the root of the trend. Birkenstocks are quite possibly THE comfiest shoes ever made, short of leaving the house in your slippers they’re pretty hard to beat, and so versatile. Layer them over bright colours to give another angle to day-to-day jeans and a tee.

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Is there no end to the possibilities with this look? Try dressing up your favourite pair of strappy heels with some sheer anklets or frilly lace socks underneath.

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