Romance Was Born: Australia Couture
Fri May 1, 1:33 pm ET
Godfrey Deeny

Sydney – Often the best tests of a fashion house's influence and possible longevity is the strength of its underlying concept, and using this yardstick one can only predict the rosiest of future's for Romance Was Born, which staged a simply sensational show in Sydney Thursday, April 30.

Staged in the light-bathed end of a great old wharf, the show was practically a hit before the first look appeared, thanks to the great stage set a potpourri of cane trunks, garden statues bedecked with chains of pearls, fine bone china tea sets, budgies, ships steering wheels, gardener's paraphernalia and a substantial wacky garden of potted flowers.

The opening was also perfectly judged, a sixties-like mini skirted white suit. The opener captured many of the breath-taking details of this impressive aesthetic statement - eyebrows remade with mini fans of pearls, platform shoes constructed with doilies and seashells. If this sounds absurdist, that's because it was, yet the sheer audacity of the images also made every look a wonderful one.

Curvy, sexy shantung suits in cobalt blues, saucy society hostess cocktail dresses - subverted by the body hugging shape - and bird of paradise slatternly countesses in fiery red frocks all looked great.

This was the closest collection outside of Western Europe to reach the technical heights of a Paris haute couture show. But what made it even more special was the way Romance Was Born's designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales made this Australia couture, by using lots of references to their own country and culture, whether it be colonial doilies, wrought iron filigrees, crochet squares or grandmother's pearls. That was clear from the show title: "Doilies and Pearls, Oysters and Shells."

Plunkett and Sales teamed up with local artists Patrick Doherty and Esme Timbery to produce colorfully naïve cartoonist prints on a great silk material composed of oysters and pearls.

"Our next plan? Opening boutiques in Melbourne, Sydney and Tokyo," said Sales, in between interviews with local TV crews.

Created in pastel hues of pale pink or faded blue, mint and lavender the collection deservedly won the duo prolonged applause as they took their bow after a memorable display of adventurous style and chic. It was a rare and unique moment when the meeting of imagery, aesthetics, eccentricity and beauty was so special that one felt privileged to be right at the center of the creative universe. Romance Was Born elicited one of those charming epiphanies.

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