Brisbane shows its sheer genius

Some might say Brisbane is behind the times when it comes to fashion, but if its up-and-coming designers are anything to go by then the city is a real contender to be the new fashion capital. Photo gallery
An increasing number of local designers are challenging the status-quo and turning heads. They're young, edgy and talented.
This week they've been gearing up for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival, which kicks off this week at Brisbane's Hilton Hotel. sat down with four exciting visionaries to talk about their inspiration, goals, achievements and the week ahead.
George WuThis man is a genius. There's little more to sum up George Wu's ability to dress women.
Since launching his label in May 2005, he has made a lot of noise within the international scene, and it's only getting louder.
It all began in 2005 when Wu packed up his graduation collection and walked around the streets of Brisbane to see if he could spark interest from stores.
Spark is an understatement. Within minutes he had scored his first stock agreement.
In the time since, stores from around Australia have snapped up Wu's simple but elegant wares.
The department stores are very interested, and will no doubt watch closely as he unveils his latest collection.
But interest isn't limited to Australia an offer to showcase in New York at the G'Day USA week celebrations last year opened up a whole new avenue of expansion.
Neiman Marcus loved him, and so did a high-profile sales representative. Her enthusiasm prompted stockists who deal with the likes of Stella McCartney and Jean Paul Gaultier to get on board.
"Every piece is like an art piece to keep, rather than a mass-produced garment," Wu said.
"Everything is pretty much hand-made; hand-cut in the studio. All of our silks and laces come from Japan."
His keen eye for trends and perfectionist attitude is no doubt behind his whirlwind career.
His inspiration for these latest designs was drawn from the Jetsons cartoon and the style and poise of flight attendants.
"These two elements combine to form a really clean, fresh take on what the George Wu look is all about.
"The fabric has a metallic finish we sourced the silver trim from Japan. It gives a fresh, bling-bling look."
The pieces are leggy, with simple silhouettes and subtle waste lines. Wu said the colours are deliberately strong and contrasting.
"It's kind of monotone, but you can still feel that really sharp edge."
Josh ScacheriAs a former professional soccer player in Europe, Josh Scacheri is used to attracting attention.
But it's after hanging up his football boots that he's created the most buzz in Australia.
He launched his label, Subfusco, while completing his second year of TAFE. The ride since has been a "rollercoaster of emotion, heartache, joy and sweat."
Scacheri was named the Designer of the Year at the Fashion Enterprise Awards, and his designs have been on the runways of some of Australia's biggest events.
He describes his clothes as unique, wearable and sophisticated. More importantly, it's stuff guys will actually wear.
"There are some great labels that have beautiful stuff, and the construction is great, but only a handful of people can wear it," Scacheri said.
"My clothes have a little edge to them if you think of a circle, Subfusco is penetrating the edge. It's sticking its head out, but it's not fully out."
Mix it up, play it down, experiment it's a kind of philosophy.
His perception of fashion and personal style completely changed when he went to Europe, he said.
While getting ready to go out with family, his aunt told him he was dressing incorrectly. She threw him a copy of Vogue, and he began his exploration.
In addition, a job working for a shoe manufacturer in Italy saw him handling Gucci and Prada on a daily basis.
"It was a manual job, but I got a taste for production and fashion and how it all works."
When his new collection is unveiled, he said there won't be over-the-top theatrics and fan-fare.
Instead, he wants to let the clothes "say it all", with the help of lively and fun backing music.
"We were going to do an out-there show, but we thought we'd let the clothes do the talking instead."
Andrzej PytelAfter a successful career in architecture, Andrzej Pytel found himself craving more creative freedom.
His outlet? Men's fashion.
He began designing t-shirts, but still wanted more. From here, Size Design was born.
Call it "streety", but not street wear. Call it A-list party with a casual feel. Call it shit his new collection is literally named Le Shit.
"It's inspired by consumerist culture, and it's just sort of looking at how seasons are changing so dramatically and quickly," Pytel said.
"Before we have time to get meaning out of the new season, the now, we're ready to discard it for something new it becomes very disposable."
Pytel says his creative inspiration constantly changes, which has led to a change in direction each season.
"It's now probably the most comprehensive range since I've started."
His designs have been applauded by industry powerhouses. He was a finalist at the NRA Fashion Awards last year, and celebrities can't seem to get enough.
Now as he prepares for MBFF, he's making last minute adjustments and preperations.
Pytel grew up in Poland before moving to Canberra with his family when he was 10-years-old. In 2002 he made his way to Brisbane, and has never looked back.
"I'm a strong believer in Brisbane we have an edge. It's very vibrant here.
"There's this perception that we're behind Sydney and Melbourne, but I would actually argue against that to an extent."
People in Brisbane are more willing to experiment with something new, and go with something that's a little out there, he said.
"Melbourne in Sydney is that very black sort of thing, very clean, whereas here we're seeing a lot more colour and uniqueness."
Sacha DrakeMost 14-year-old girls are gossiping with their friends or idolising pop icons, but for Sacha Drake her days were occupied with sewing classes.
Her teacher was a 70-year-old tailoress, and her guidance no doubt planted a seed in Drake's mind.
She went on to study fashion in Brisbane, costume design in London and filmmaking in Rome.
After working abroad in a variety of industries, Drake returned to Brisbane in 2002 and launched her own fashion label.
Five years later, she employs 12 fulltime staff and sees her designs stocked in more than 150 boutiques around the country.
"The most genuine highlight of my career is when I am approached by a customer and they say, `I have heaps of your dresses. I love them.'"
And it's her consumers she credits with inspiring her latest collection.
"My aim is always to create stylish frocks that exude a fresh femininity, dresses that make women look elegant and feel amazing."
She says the women who wear Sacha Drake are stylish and aware of the trends, but not a slave to them.
Her trademark style is clean, elegant silhouettes in timeless fabrics. Her frocks are reminiscent of vintage glamour.
In the lead up to MBFF, Drake says she is excited for a number of reasons. A big part of it is the chance to catch up with her industry peers. "We like to get together and have a good chin wag."
In addition to MBFF, Drake is providing pieces for Kylie Ryan's parade so the pressure is double.
"(It's) a lot of organising and deep breaths to stay calm."
This week she has been busy with fittings, alterations, accessorising and finalising music for the fashion festival.
While the festival will be a chance to unveil her latest collection, it also acts as an accolade for Drake.
"This year I am opening the festival, so it's very daunting and exciting. I can assure you the audience will not be disappointed.
"The line up at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival is very impressive and looks to be a full-on week of fabulous fashion."

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