The last of a fantastic run of RMIT Graduate showcases, Open House lived up to its name.
The show’s venue (a large industrial space in Brunswick), was separated into tableau-like areas evoking a home, including a living room, a garden space, and a dining table exquisitely bedecked with Chinese food and flowers. Further into the building, following a bedroom and an office space, was a bathroom complete with a layer of hair on the floor which both intrigued and disgusted some vocal attendees.
Clearly the designers had thoroughly planned the spaces, and the installations were to be crucial to the event. Each area had its own mood, but the overall feeling was one of undone beauty, with vintage furniture, fabric hangings and scattered plants creating a bric-a-brac ambiance that was soon echoed by the diverse collections of the eight designers presenting their graduate collections: Shannon Green, Betty Liu, Anita Ov, Claire Myers, Amy Thomas, Remy Wong, Kit Valerio and Giselle McNamara.
Upon arrival, guests were served food and drinks and allowed to explore the installations, before a doorbell chimed over the speakers to signal the show was beginning. A stream of models walked out along the runway before moving off alone and in pairs throughout the crowds and amongst the furniture. It was quickly apparent that this would be more than a simple runway, as the models began to interact with the spaces they occupied. Some slouched onto couches and chairs, while others browsed books and whispered among themselves.
A show best viewed by walking around, it was both live and static in places, always changing and offering new performative elements throughout the evening to those who happened to stop by each area. At one point, a dancer moved wildly around a mattress in an emotional performance that entranced the audience. A group of models, sat on the grass, played a card game with willing participants from the crowd, while one hurried model stomped throughout the spaces like something from a 90s McQueen show. The crowd was at its thickest when four models, connected by the beautifully printed fabric of Betty Liu’s garments, encircled the dining table. The immaculate arrangement on top was soon destroyed, leaving behind a mess of food scraps that some audience members helped themselves to.
Compared to the usually formal, robotic formula of most runways, Open House felt free, exciting, and truly immersive. It really seemed like a new type of fashion show was happening here. The enduring performances and flow of models meant the viewer was allowed more time to experience the work, rather befitting the amount of time surely plunged into the production of these collections. While this also meant that no two audience members experienced the same show, it is certain that that every viewer alike would have been equally enthralled and impressed by this event to remember.
Written by Lucinda Houghton
Photographed by Jasper Fearnley and Lucinda Houghton.
You can follow the work of these designers through the following social media links:
Shannon Green: @shan.greeen
Betty Liu: @b.e.t.t.y.l.i.u
Anita Ov: @anitaov
Claire Myers: @clairevmyers
Amy Thomas: @amyy.madeleine
Remy Wong: @rem.y
Kit Valerio: @studio.kit
Giselle McNamara: @gisellemcnmr