Project Next Gen’s Six Emerging Designers Made Their Debut at MBFWA

Project NextGen is an initiative that is intended to provide a platform to discover and support emerging Australian fashion designers. This year, the lucky designers featured were Stanzee, Stephanie Henly, Sarah Hope Schofield, Meredith Bullen, Victoria Bliss and Isabelle Quinn. All photos by Jess Brohier.

Project NEXTGEN is a program that connects renowned fashion experts to emerging designers by mentoring them into a thriving career.

Supported by St. George Bank, 50 finalists are narrowed down to six winners who are awarded a year-long mentorship by St. George Bank Business Advisory.

These six hopefuls, aspire to reach the heights of their predecessors and showcased their collections yesterday which included Stanzee, Stephanie Henly, Sarah Hope Schofield, Meredith Bullen, Victoria Bliss and Isabelle Quinn.

You can watch the runway show in its entirety above, then scroll through as we break down each designer and share with you what we loved and loathed from their debut at Australian Fashion Week.

    Stanzee‘s Resort 2018 collection was inspired by the contrast of dark to light and sheer to bold – and there was lots of sheer! Incorporating classic designs with today’s modern edge, Stanzee produced dresses that had the ability to be stand-alone statement pieces. Her palette was full of black and white designs with touches of dark greys and army green, some of which were adorned with gold and silver sequins.
    Stephanie Henly‘s Resort 2018 collection was a material exploration deriving forms from the embroidery ‘long-stitch’ technique. This technique shown throughout her designs created form and function rather than traditionally a flat decorated surface. Henly also incorporated a lot sheer throughout her collection but it was the detailing within each piece that had everyone talking.
    Sarah Hope Schofield’s work explores haute couture techniques and how a childhood in rural Australia and 8 year’s experience in Paris, shaped her design identity. Want to know our first thoughts when her first design came down the runway? Censorship. You know on TV when they can’t show a woman’s breasts and instead put a black box over it? That’s what we immediately thought, but instead, the censorship boxes came in different colours, sometimes with embellishments. Her other designs were volumised – the bigger, the better apparently – with printed patterns that didn’t exactly go with the rest of the collection. It left us confused more than anything.
    ‘ADAPT Autumn/Winter 2017’ was the collection Meredith Bullen chose to show at Australian Fashion Week this year to showcase herself as an emerging designer and we wish she had chosen to debut something else. Textured hand-constructed woollen weaves were paired with oversized, utilitarian denim.  Most pieces were heavy and bulky, overwhelming the tiny frames of the models that had to carry them down the runway. The collection was clearly inspired by the fashion in Tokyo but perhaps that inspiration was lost in translation at MBFWA.
    Victoria Bliss‘ designs explored her heritage and identity – from laser etched clan tartan, to digital prints developed from The Bay of Fires, Tasmania. The Melbourne designer mixed traditional tailoring and strong silhouettes with bold prints, straw hats and faux fur bags. Confused? So were we.

    We truly believe that they saved the best for last for this runway show, because Isabelle Quinn was our favourite designer out all of all six emerging designers. Her Resort 2017/18 collection was an ethereal selection of creations made with love using a colour palette of black, white, dusty pinks, ivory silks, and navy blue complemented with pink lips and a burst of silver metallic knee-high boots to tie it all up in a pretty package. Dreamy!

All photography captured by Jess Brohier for The 5 to 9 Life.

Runway footage by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.