All images by Talisa and me. Collage and watercolour swatches by Talisa. Words by me.
Last year Magdalena Velevska's show was the kind of thing that grabbed the audience by the shoulders and never quite let go. It had everything - eye-catching neon brights, plisse pleating, macrame knitwear and an inventive show set featuring an oversized, overgrown crystal. Everyone loved it. Everyone was talking about it. So this year when Velevska showed off-site at the Maritime Museum there were expectations that she would outdo herself and show another stealth collection of trend-driven items. But what paraded out - simple yellow jumpsuits with scalloped edging, blush-hued shift dresses with assymetrical hemline and, what may very well be my (HR's) favourite look of the season, a deconstructed white bomber jacket over a white a-line mini (very Stella McCartney) - could not have been further from that RAFW collection so long ago. Streamlined, simple and short (believe it or not the most tightly edited collections are often the best) it made an impact through its sheer, almost fierce resolution to slip under the radar. It may not have had the wow-factor of last year, but it had something even better; poise.
Okay, so there were face masks. And lime green lips. But that was about it for theatrics during the show. Instead Velevska focussed on the cut, which this season was relaxed in accordance with the sporty overtones that have dominated the MBFWA runways. Simple tapered trousers with almost-turtleneck collared shirts and drawstring-tie shorts with oversized bracelet-sleeve blouses in pillow-slip white. Shift dresses and floor length empire-waist numbers revelled in their respective colours of pale pink or washed out pistachio green. What little embellishment there was - either a touch of mesh inserting (there's that sporty trend again) or the fringe piping that she experimented with last season - was restrained and even elegent. It wasn't embellishment for embellishment's sake, but rather embellishment where a garment needed it. Those simple dresses may have been too simple without that piping. But she never overplayed her hand. Too much of that lime green would have been overkill. Not enough of that gorgeous pistachio or oatmeal brown and there would have been a thread missing. What Velevska showed was, in so many ways, just right.
It is easy to make an impact with a collection that is bright and in your face and full of quirky gimmicks. What is harder - and her designs this season are all the better for it - is a collection that tries to do the exact opposite. By spending more time exploring washed-out colours that couldn't be more perfect and the athletic shapes that characterise fashion's current obsession with all things casual and comfortable, Velevska has shown that she can do what some of the great international designers - Phoebe Philo, Isabel Marant, and yes, Stella Mac too - can do... Make clothes that are fashion forward yet also truly wearable. Wearable can be a bit of a dirty word in the fashion vernacular. But here I say it with all the respect that it deserves. These are clothes that will sell. And, if we can get our hands on that white bomber, they might just sell to us.
Check out our other reviews of Romance Was Born, Gary Bigeni, Gail Sorronda, Zimmermann and Michael Lo Sordo.