Tag Archives: Martin Ollman


Sixteen metres of tulle. A creation by Megan Canning Designs. Image: Martin Ollman.

You could feel their hearts beat. The hearts, that is, of the models wearing voluminous, long gowns at FASHFEST last Friday night (19 Oct). They weren’t just wearing magnificent pieces, they were wearing them while on the long, moving escalators in the foyer of the National Gallery that formed part of the overall runway.

How tricky was it? Consider this. One gown was created with a whopping 150 metres of tulle.

Would the fabric get caught? It didn’t and the show was nothing short of majestic.

Model: Kahu Kapea from HAUS Models.

‘The nature of this event meant we simply couldn’t go out for a broad model casting as we have in some other years,’ said Andrea Hutchinson who co-founded FASHFEST and who is also the event’s Model Director. ‘We needed experienced models who could not just walk in such large gowns, but handle them gracefully on moving escalators, first going down and then going up. It was tricky, especially entering and exiting the escalators. The models had to maneouvre them without interrupting the flow of the show or getting the garments caught.’

Another graceful gown by Megan Canning Designs. Image: Doug Hall, Studio Vita

FASHFEST is ‘changing it up’ and this was its first full show at a cultural institution. The event sold out, with VIP seats going first. Even the standing room upstairs at the top of the escalator was packed with guests staring down over the models for a very different perspective indeed.

The event started with Megan Canning Designs, with the showstopper, 16-metre tulle gown. It was breathtaking watching model Kahu Kapea, from HAUS Models, manage the gown while walking to the cool tunes of zares, Canberra DJ and electronic dance producer. And it wasn’t just Kahu who had to manage massive mounds of fabric. Many other models did too.

Super model Anneliese Seubert (l) with young designer Charly Thorn, walking the finale.

Next up was the evening luxe collection by young designer Charly Thorn, with legendary model Anneliese Seubert modelling an elegant long silk dress which Charly has fondly called the ‘Anneliese Dress’. Charly designed the bold black and white pattern, called ‘stargaze’, and had it printed in Sydney. Some solid pieces in the collection were made from wool and they all popped—pinks, yellows, greens and blues.

Charly Thorn’s new collection pops with colour.

Last, but not least, appeared the collection by Hajar Gala Couture, each piece exquisitely detailed. This is true couture. It takes ages for Hajar to design, fit and make each of her luxury gowns.

Hajar Gala Couture. Image: Martin Ollman.

Pre-show, guests gathered upstairs for a ‘Quandong Paint Cocktail’, created by Archie Rose for FASHFEST and inspired by Lichtenstein’s brushstrokes. As soon as the drink is swirled, the Quandong Paint leeches into it, changing the flavor from a simple gin old fashioned into a native peachy delight.

Models gracing moving escalators–a tricky business indeed, says FASHFEST’s Andrea Hutchinson. Image: Jack Mohr.

Pre and post-show, guests were entertained by Simon Anau while getting up close to a small exhibition of gowns by the three designers, to see just how much work goes into each one.

The National Gallery of Australia was a magnificent backdrop for the first ‘change it up’ event for FASHFEST. So what’s next? Clint Hutchinson says planning is well underway for the next major FASHFEST event in December and Canberrans might just see FASHFEST pop up in-between.

For exclusive updates and special offers, sign up to FASHFEST’s newsletter: www.fashfest.com.au

The Quandong Paint Cocktail created for FASHFEST by Archie Rose. Image: Martin Ollman.

Models from Devojka Models, Victoria’s Models and HAUS Models. Hair for the event led by Craig Rhodes using Sachajuan. MUA was led by Katie Saarikko, using Harlotte Cosmetics. The FASHFEST photography team is led by Leighton Hutchinson Photography.

Hands across the Water: Australia—New Zealand Collaboration

In many ways, Australia and New Zealand are two of the most ‘connected’ countries on the planet, and both are keen on exporting their fashion prowess to overseas markets. This year two New Zealand designers—with remarkably different aesthetics—launched collections at FASHFEST 2016, both supported by the New Zealand High Commission to be in the show.

Designer Melanie Child; photo by Leighton Hutchinson

Designer Melanie Child; photo by Leighton Hutchinson

Melanie Child, a boutique, independent womenswear label from Dunedin, appeared on the FASHFEST runway for the second time, with her thought-provoking aesthetic and garments made through upcycling and sustainable fabric choices. Making a debut appearance was A’au Elei. The three brothers behind the label, Junior, Matthew and Jerry Chan Sau, focus on design inspired by their Pacific Island heritage. They have just moved to Sydney to be closer to sales agents but will never forget home.

While here, Melanie met New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Australia, Chris Seed, at the High Commissioner’s residence in Canberra. Melanie also worked with Leighton Hutchinson, Director of Photography for FASHFEST, on a photo shoot at the High Commissioner’s residence. “I’m a big fan of his work,” says Melanie, “and it was inspiring and a huge opportunity, especially since we got to do the shoot at the residence, which is such a unique location and a special one for me as a New Zealand designer.”

FASHFEST Co-Founder Cling Hutchinson, Melanie Child, and NZ High Commissioner Chris Seed. Photo by Leighton Hutchinson

FASHFEST Co-Founder Clint Hutchinson, Melanie Child, and NZ High Commissioner Chris Seed. Photo by Leighton Hutchinson

Melanie was drawn back to FASHFEST in part because the event continues to attract so many ethical and sustainable fashion designers. “I’m motivated to create beauty from the unwanted and wasted—timeless garments that transcend seasons,” says Melanie, who redesigns preloved denim, reducing post-consumer textile waste into landfill in the process. “I’m also drawn to FASHFEST’s commitment to provide a platform for emerging designers, and the opportunity to collaborate with designers, photographers and other creatives. As a small label from New Zealand, showcasing my work on an international stage is a huge opportunity to present to a wider audience. I also had a viewing with a women’s retail shop while in Canberra.”

Melanie and Matthew also met the Deputy High Commissioner, Llewellyn Roberts, at FASHFEST, providing a personal tour of the bustle backstage. A’au Elei says they were inspired by FASHFEST. “We’re predominantly a textile design company but our experience with such a professionally run show, and the interest we attracted, has inspired us to expand our range of men’s clothing,” says Matthew.

A’Au Elei’s new collection on the catwalk. Photo by Holly Williams

A’Au Elei’s new collection on the catwalk. Photo by Holly Williams

High Commissioner Chris Seed says New Zealand’s fashion industry is growing internationally. “Recent figures show 25 per cent of our production is off-shore with 70 per cent of manufacturers involved in exporting, and Australia is the biggest market,” says the High Commissioner. “New Zealand’s participation in FASHFEST reinforces a view of both countries as nations of contemporary innovation and creativity. Our determination and our independence, and our Māori and Pasifika heritage, enables creativity, innovation and often ingenious solutions.”

Designer Melanie Child. Photo by Martin Ollman

Designer Melanie Child. Photo by Martin Ollman

The benefit of attracting international labels to FASHFEST is a win-win for both countries says Clint Hutchinson, CEO of FASHFEST. “Designers from Canberra and interstate gain new insights from New Zealand and designers from New Zealand gain new insights from Australia.”

You can learn more about Melanie Child and A’au Elei on the FASHFEST website.


By Wendy Johnson

Designer applications are out, dates are locked in and in 2016 FASHFEST will hold more catwalk shows than ever before. The new dates for Canberra’s pre-eminent and largest fashion event are 29 September to 1 October.

FASHFEST 2015 - photo by Martin Ollman

FASHFEST 2015 – photo by Martin Ollman

Why the switch from May? Co-founder Clint Hutchinson says the change in dates was logical.

“We’re now aligned with Australia’s overall fashion calendar and the timing of ‘sister events’ such as the major weeks in Melbourne and Sydney,” says Clint. “And, let’s face it, September is warmer than May in the capital so guests can glam up, as they love to for FASHFEST, without shivering their way through the show.”

Another major change is the number of shows FASHFEST will host in 2016—six in total, with two each day. “The new dates also mean we have the time needed to prepare for the added shows. Each year we get stronger and the event gets more exciting. This year is no exception,” says Clint.

Once again, the event will be held at the National Convention Centre, powered by sound and lighting that will transform the space into something magical.

FASHFEST 2015 runway, National Convention Centre - photo by David Burke

FASHFEST 2015 catwalk, National Convention Centre – photo by David Burke

Designer applications are out now and due 14 February. Once again, FASHFEST is  throwing its weight behind local designers as well as designers from interstate and overseas, focusing on independent labels. “Last year, we had 30 designers, including Melanie Child from New Zealand, who was a big ticket item on the catwalk,” says Andrea Hutchinson, Co-founder. “So we’re encouraging a wide range of designers to apply.”

FASHFEST 2015 - photo by Red Photography

FASHFEST 2015 – photo by Red Photography

“FASHFEST is young by Australian standards and we’re still growing and maturing, learning more and more all the time”, says Andrea. “We’ve come a long way in just three years and our ability to put on more shows during this, our fourth year, is possible because of how much we’ve progressed and the creative team working with Clint and I on the event.”

Let the fashion fun begin … !

LFW will keep you posted on events relating to FASHFEST as they unfold and we’ve already locked in the dates so we don’t miss out.

Fans should also follow the event on: www.fashfest.com.au  https://www.instagram.com/fashfest/


CARDIF—there’s a new kid in town!

Wendy Johnson checks out CARDIF, and CARDIF Collective, a brand new initiative for Canberra designers.

Chris in the studio - photo by Martin Ollman

Chris in the studio – photo by Martin Ollman

When Chris Lloyd was young she knew creative veins ran through her body. She was fascinated by design and never hesitated to create fashion for herself, family and friends. She loved being surrounded by fabric, thread and scissors and her soul was always satisfied by the sweet sounds of her sewing machine.

Although passionate, Chris’s dream to be a designer was put on hold as she pursued a professional career in the public service and as an independent contractor. Such is life.

But after 20 long years, Chris has hauled her sewing machine out of storage and is starting her own fashion label—Minimum. If that isn’t exciting enough, Chris, and her husband David Traylen, have started CARDIF, Canberra and Region Designers in Fashion, which will open officially in early 2016.

Fashion fun at CARDIF - Photo by Martin Ollman

Fashion fun at CARDIF – Photo by Martin Ollman

CARDIF is occupying an amazingly large space overlooking Green Square, Kingston, and providing centrally located, light-filled studio and retail space to selected fashion designers to help them realise their aspirations. It’s fitting that CARDIF is in Kingston, one of Canberra’s first commercial centres. It occupies 685m² space on Level 1 of the Cusack Centre.

“In looking for space for Minimum I quickly realised that rent can be super expensive,” says Chris. “But more than that, it can be lonely working on your own and creatives need to be inspired, share, learn and connect. It’s all important to the creative process.”

When Chris and David stumbled across the space they decided to take the plunge knowing that a lot of blood, sweat and tears would be needed to transform it, especially since it had sat empty for eons. Twelve individual studios will be available, as will a common area including two large cutting tables, storage, racking, a lounge and kitchen facilities. A pattern maker and machinist will be on site and available to designers on a fee-for-service basis.

Fireworks hat by Cynthia Jones-Bryson. Photo by designer, model Alice Anderson

Fireworks hat by Cynthia Jones-Bryson. Photo provided by designer, model Alice Anderson

CARDIF, a not-for-profit, also runs CARDIF Collective, the retail side of the operation. The designers occupying studios will sell to the public through the collective, as will other members of CARDIF.

Although there’s still a massive amount of work needed to finish the space, CARDIF Collective is hosting its first pop-up celebrating Christmas and giving visitors a chance to say hello, so from 12 to 22 December, close to 30 creatives will have Australian jewellery, fashion, millinery, accessories, homewares, accessories, and more, on show and for sale. “It’s a bit of a test run so not all the creatives involved in the pop-up shop are official members of CARDIF, but that’s not a worry at this stage,” says Chris. “The aim is to give visitors a chance to see the space and say hello.”

Designer Edwina Woods - photo by Martin Ollman

Designer Edwina Woods – photo by Martin Ollman

Several designers have already signed up to CARDIF studio space. Edwina Woods has already moved in, soon to be followed by Chris with her label Minimum and Cynthia Jones-Bryson, who has just won the coveted Crown Oakes Day Invitation Only Myer Millinery Award for her headpiece inspired by fireworks.

“CARDIF will become a centre of excellence and support fashion designers to grow and develop,” says Chris. “The idea is to provide affordable, long-term creative and retail space for designers, both established and emerging, who have a desire to make their brand commercially accessible and who want to connect direct with customers.”

Internal space at CARDIF Collective - photo by Martin Ollman

Internal space at CARDIF Collective – photo by Martin Ollman

Workspaces range in size from approximately 10 m2 up to 28 m2.  Design studios can be rented by one designer or shared. A second call for applications will take place early in 2016 (designers can express interest at any time by email).


For more information on the CARDIF Collective Christmas pop-up—times and a list of designers—head to www.cardifcollective.com.au and for more information on CARDIF, visit www.cardifact.com.au

Local Canberran wins Lifetime Award!

Those of us who know Canberra well, know that it’s a city unlike no other in Australia. Some of what makes the capital a glorious spot is right before our very eyes—like our national icons, natural beauty and festivals. But there is so much more beneath the surface to discover, as the likes of Jenifer Dwyer Slee know full well. By Wendy Johnson

You see, Jenifer is the Director of Sales and Marketing at the National Convention Centre, working for the InterContinental Hotels Group. One of her big passions is positioning Canberra as a ‘go-to’ destination in the highly competitive conference industry. Jenifer’s passion for what Australia offers in the industry has led her to be honoured with a Lifetime Award from the Professional Conference Organisers Association, for ‘Support, Encouragement and Mentoring to the Business Events Sector in Australia’.Jenifer by Martin Ollman

“I love Canberra,” says Jenifer. “I really do.”

It’s a big statement when you consider that Jenifer has lived in or near some pretty special spots while working for more than 26 years in the luxury hotel market, including at Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa, Sheraton Noosa and in starry-eyed Sydney.  After an exciting career in hotels, Jenifer made one of those massive decisions to take a major turn. She moved to the world of convention centres, which brought her to Canberra.

Jenifer is one of only eight Australians, and the only Canberran, to receive this Lifetime Award, in part for her majestic efforts in positioning this country to be a winner in the industry.

Barry Neame, President of the Professional Conference Organisers Association, who presented Jenifer with the award in Adelaide at the association’s eight annual conference on 30 November, sums it up this way: “Jenifer truly cares about bringing business to Australia and to Canberra and has been open and generous in sharing her knowledge in how the hotel sector operates with association members, to help with their professional development and upskilling. This includes helping young people entering the industry acquire quality skills and quickly. Jenifer has always been open to being a mentor and it’s strengthened the industry as a whole.”

Jenifer Dwyer Slee seated_Martin Ollman_Nov 2015Jenifer’s efforts not only benefit IHG and the National Convention Centre, they boost the local economy and generate economic wealth for many in business here, with visitors touring about and indulging in our food scene, local arts and design movement and events and activities.

“It’s good for everyone when we score a major conference,” says Jenifer. “We work hard at it but have a high success rate in winning conferences and events once decision makers have experienced the benefits of coming to Canberra for themselves.” With the growth in tourism in the coming years, the dedication of Canberrans like Jenifer is sure to stimulate even more to visit the capital and surrounds.

“I agree with what The New York Times wrote about us,” says Jenifer. “We have big-sky beauty, breezy civic pride and a decidedly hipster underbelly. Combine that with our vibrancy and developed world-class professionalism and you’ve got the perfect destination.”

Images by Martin Ollman