My second favourite parade (first favourite right here) at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane is the Australian Fashion Graduate of the Year Award. I am particularly curious to see how the Brisbane contenders stack up at a national level. Unfortunately we didn’t have a Brisbane winner this year… but let me tell you they had the inter-state designers shaking in their Dr Martens.
However it was Carlie Waterman from Sydney TAFE that has taken out the title of the 2012 Australian Fashion Graduate of the Year.
The fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break into and the Australian Fashion Graduate of the Year Award provides a platform for budding designers to present their creative visions on a stage shared by leading national and international labels, to a front row of some of the most influential identities in Australian fashion.
The award sets itself apart from other national competitions, affording huge media exposure and has a history of catapulting careers and design labels to the centre of sartorial and media conversations.
Twelve finalists from the nation’s six top fashion colleges battled it out for the prestigious award, premiering their debut collections on the catwalk for a panel of industry experts – Fashion Writer Emma Markezic, The Sunday Mail Fashion & Beauty Editor Kellie Alderman and leading Fashion Designer Paul Hunt – as well as a discerning crowd of fashion-savvy guests, who came to witness the next generation of talent and place their own bets on the next big thing in fashion.
Winner Carlie Waterman won over the judges with her beautiful, cohesive and innovative collection to take home the title and esteemed industry accolades, as well as the $5000 grand prize to launch her career. The judges agreed she displayed great techniques in her collection and the range was commercially viable.
Now the sixth designer to benefit from this career-launching program, Carlie will join a stable of acknowledged Fashion Graduates, which includes industry favourite Dion Lee who won in 2008; Jo Turner of the label Francis Leon; Project Runway finalists Nerida Bourne and Rachael Perks; and Tovah Cottle, who has skyrocketed to recognition for her eponymous label since showing as a graduate just last year.
Those fashion colleges who competed for the prestigious award include Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (MSIT), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney TAFE, and The Whitehouse Institute of Design.
The other 2012 finalists were Maddy Blythe from The Whitehouse Institute of Design, Jess Tovey from MSIT, Alice Waugh from MSIT, Marianna Tigani from QUT, Sally Edwards from QUT, Joanna Henning from RMIT, Helen Pappas from RMIT, Stephanie Caltabiano from UTS and Vanesa Edwards from UTS, who were selected by their university heads of department for their originality, raw talent, skill and commercial viability.
Here are some of our favourite looks:
Carla, the happy winner!