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Five New Labels to Watch at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

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Amidst a string of store closures and some of our biggest designers emigrating to the U.S., Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia has released its 2014 schedule. And while we’re all about the continued international trajectories of Dion Lee, Sass & Bide and Zimmermann, the result is a lineup heavy on emerging talents. Here are the newbies we’re most excited to see break in Carriageworks next month:

Desert Designs: This might have only joined the MBFWA schedule recently, but their story goes back to 1985 in the unlikely setting of Fremantle Prison art class. Art teachers Stephen Culley and David Wroth were so impressed with the vivid felt pen drawings of inmate and Walmajarri artist Jimmy Pike that they had the idea of marketing the prints on fabric. In 2013 they launched afresh with a psychedelic collection exploring themes of love and water. 

Leroy Nguyen: TAFE grad Nguyen combines brave shapes with beautiful digital prints. There are strong elements of sportswear in his recent collections, but they’re definitely not normcore. Padded fabrics contrast with sheer ones, and oversized bombers come splattered with prints both photographic and abstract.

UNIF.M: “Simple is as simple does” is the motto of the designers behind this street reinvention of industry-grade workwear. Utilitarian techniques and fabrics are fused with quality leather and silks, with everything designed to fit into an existing wardrobe. Amen to that.

Hayley Elssaesser: We first got a taste of this QUT grad’s trippy prints when she was picked by Sportsgirl as one of 12 designers to show on the runway in their LMFF 2013 National Graduate Runway Show. Her new collection is titled Redneck Nostalgia, injecting the 50s with a heavy dose of pop culture and modern attitude. It’s Magic Eye IRL.  

NLP: Repping the newcomers in the swimwear category are NLP, who will join We Are Handsome, Talulah and SUBOO in making us wish it was summer forever. NLP’s gear is high on neon and neoprene, and tough as sh*t – because not every bikini needs to fall off when it comes into contact with a wave.

Carla Zampatti will kick off MBFWA on April 6, with the remaining 71(!) shows spread thickly across the following four days. Names you’ll already know include Alex Perry, Maticevski, Bec & Bridge, Maticevski and Michael Lo Sordo. Ellery will also be coming home for Spring/Summer after just having presented her Fall 2014 collection in Paris.  

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