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NGV stuns with sumptuous celebration of Dior

Spring came early to Melbourne with the National Gallery of Victoria throwing open the doors on its new fashion exhibition, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, which celebrates florals, colour and French design flair.

With the blossoms starting to bud across the city, there is no better place to celebrate the changing of the season than at this spectacular show, which presents 140 garments designed by Christian Dior Couture between 1947 and 2017.

Careful curation and thoughtful inclusions ensures the exhibition appeals equally to fashionistas as well as those less well versed in couture. The connection between Dior and Australia is strongly highlighted – Dior’s first show outside of France was in Australia in 1948 – and every visitor is sure to walk away having learnt or seen something new.

Discovering Dior
The exhibition spans multiple rooms, with creations from the seven designers who have led it over the decades, namely Christian Dior; Yves Saint Laurent; Marc Bohan; Gianfranco Ferré; John Galliano; Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The influence of the New Look – first presented by Christian Dior in 1947 – is a theme that runs throughout the exhibition. In addition, the enduring influence of the flower, and all things floral, from all of Dior’s designers is highlighted. Christian Dior drew great inspiration from the flower, a legacy that current designer in Maria Grazia Chiuri continues to build on with her most recent creations.

Another notable exhibition feature is a double mezzanine space linked with a staircase, inspired by Dior’s Parisian headquarters. This rewards those who take the stairs with sweeping views through the exhibition space.

Getting interactive
In addition to the largest video presentation ever displayed by the NGV, dedicated to current couture designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, there is an interactive element in the form of two ateliers from Dior in France who demonstrate their fine-tuned skills and answer questions about their work and approaches.

Of course, as well as gorgeous dresses and gowns, there are also shoes, hats and perfumes. Milliner Steven Jones was on hand at the exhibition opening, where he spoke of his experiences of working with different Dior designers. “Working with John [Galliano] was extraordinary as each hat and outfit had its own story to tell. Ralf was a lesson in modernity. And working with Maria is also extraordinary – she wants to try the hats on, it’s very much about the reality but also the fantasy.” In addition to the displayed archived hats, Jones created some new headpieces especially for the exhibition.

Nicole Kidman at the inaugural NGV gala. Photo by Fiona Hamilton.

Gorgeous gowns
The exhibition’s grand finale is a beautiful room showcasing spectacular evening wear, which again subtly highlights links between Dior and some famous Australians. You’ll recognise Nicole Kidman’s famous chartreuse sheath dress that she wore to the 1997 Oscars. Plus, a last-minute addition was Australian model Miranda Kerr’s wedding gown. She only walked down the aisle in July 2017 but the curators knew they simply had to have the fairytale creation on display.

Words Lucy Siebert

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture runs until 7 November. As a Mercedes-Benz owner, you can access complimentary entry for two people to the exhibition.

Zambesi announced as 2017 Mercedes-Benz Presents Designer

Iconic New Zealand fashion brand Zambesi will present two bespoke ensembles in the Mercedes-Benz Presents Zambesi runway show at New Zealand Fashion Week, which takes place in late August, through to September. The news comes after the label was revealed as the 2017 New Zealand Mercedes-Benz Presents designer.

Zambesi epitomises passion, style, avant-garde design, high quality materials and first-class technical innovations and is one of New Zealand’s most recognised and respected labels. Since its inception in 1979, the brand has continued its dedication to high quality, locally made garments that reflect realism and imagination.

The brand will premiere its 2018 Autumn/Winter collection as ‘Mercedes-Benz Presents Zambesi’. This exclusive runway show in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz will feature as the debut evening show at 2017 New Zealand Fashion Week.

“Mercedes-Benz reflects confidence, sophistication and imagination, making it the perfect fit for Zambesi,” said Elisabeth Findlay, Zambesi co-founder and designer. “The integrity of both brands brings a harmonious partnership which we look forward to celebrating!” 

In addition to the Mercedes-Benz Presents runway show on the opening night of New Zealand Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz will support the event as the official automotive partner. Mercedes-Benz will provide a fleet of official event vehicles to transport VIP guests.

Mercedes-Benz Presents Harman Grubiša

Kiwi fashion label Harman Grubiša was awarded the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Presents accolade in New Zealand in 2016. We caught up with the founders, dynamic design duo Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubiša.

What did it mean for you to be named Mercedes-Benz Presents 2016?
It was an honour. We’ve always dreamed of opening New Zealand Fashion Week. At two years into our business, it was a surreal moment for us, personally and professionally, to say the least. 

What have been highlights for you since then?
We’ve been working on building our accessories range – collaborating with a local jeweller as well as developing a capsule range of footwear to sit alongside our collections. It has been wonderful to see this come to life and be so well received. It’s gratifying that a woman can now wear top-to-toe Harman Grubiša.

What three words best describe the label?
Effortless Glamour (with much) Personality.

What types of fabrics are you typically drawn to?
Wool. Silk. Anything with a purity and that drapes beautifully. Of course, we do use manmade fibres but these often offer a different contribution in the way they wear or age, or in their colour. It keeps things interesting. There is so much innovation out there in the world of textiles – we are always learning and that is very inspiring.

Fast fashion is all around us these days – why is Harman Grubiša’s philosophy so different? ?
We are locally designed and made – it keeps us close to our design process from sketch, to make, to fit –and this keeps us in touch as ranges evolve. Each piece you buy from us is highly considered. We don’t adhere to a throwaway culture of dressing; we are about quality timeless styles. We feed back into our economy and are interested in the well being of our makers and of the industry as a whole.

How has being New Zealanders influenced your designs?
Being from the bottom of the world definitely provides a unique perspective. In many ways we are outsiders looking in on the fashion world.

Why were you each originally attracted to fashion?
Jessica: I can put this down to one moment – at a very young age I was watching a Christian Dior by Galliano couture show. From then onwards I knew wanted to create in the world of fashion. 
Madeleine: My background is art, design, painting and art history. As time went on, it became evident that design was inherent to who I am and I just wanted to contribute to creating beautiful things. 

How did you manage to meld each of your different creative visions so successfully?
It just works. It’s like magic. We are creative soulmates.

What do you have planned for the label for the second half of 2017 and into next year?
We have several projects under wraps at the moment but on the whole, we are moving into international expansion and wholesale growth currently while developing new product ranges further. 

How would you describe your personal styles?
Jessica: To me, fashion is about fun. I try to dress to my mood. Big personality, lots of joy and always big hair. 
Madeleine: I dress classic and considered but still modern – I’m always working a statement shoe.

You must travel a lot – what are your must-haves / top tips for when you are on the move?
Jessica: I always travel with Oribe Dry Shampoo – no matter what.
Madeleine: Shoes – well considered (often too many). We often get off a plane and head straight to our first appointment so I tend to carry all my must-haves with me to freshen up en route. 

Words Lucy Siebert 

Keep up with the latest on Mercedes-Benz Presents New Zealand 2017.

Video: Life of style – Vydia Rishie

Writer and stylist Vydia Rishie, of fashion blog the VR Verdict, arrived in style at this year's Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF), cruising between runway shows in a Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class 250d. We ask her what looks impressed her most, her favourite way to get from A to B and what's coming up next in the world of fashion.

How would you describe your style?
My style is always evolving and dependent on my mood and where I’m going. In saying that, my style has always been about creating a complete look – I’m always thinking about accessories, bags, shoes and all the details in between. I like things to be put together and polished, but still effortless.  

What were the key trends at VAMFF in 2017? 
Two trends that really stood out were power suits and anything in the colour red! [Labels] Romance was Born and Bianca Spender were the front runners for channeling this vibe and it was something to be seen not just on the runway, but out on the streets too.  

What most excites you about the world of fashion and design?
The people! I’m a bit of a social butterfly and love meeting new people. Hearing their stories and being around a creative vibe in general is always inspiring.  

Do you have a favourite Mercedes-Benz model?
It would have to be the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63. That AMG badge is just too cool not to love.

What has been the highlight of collaborating with Mercedes-Benz?
I’m actually a huge fan of cars, so having that crossover between fashion and cars has always been relevant to me. As a stylist, my car is basically my office, wardrobe, and desk for being on location, so of course I love driving a luxe, comfortable car with all the performance features.

What are your plans for the next few months of the year?
Lots more styling and a bit more travel, I’m super excited to be heading to Europe very soon.  

Interview by Nola James

See all the highlights from Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF)

A celebration of iconic Australian design

A highly awarded designer, world-famous model and acclaimed photographer, all hailing from Australia, came together to set the scene for an unforgettable Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2017 brought together icons of the Australian fashion and design industries – highlighted by an exclusive photoshoot with acclaimed photographer Georges Antoni and Australian model Montana Cox.

Antoni and Cox collaborated on the shoot at the visually stunning Carriage Works in Sydney, featuring the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé.

Wearing a special creation by Mercedes-Benz Presents designer for 2017, Dion Lee, Cox dazzled alongside the brand-new, technically advanced vehicle. Lee’s garments feature structural design and stunning shapes, which perfectly complement the new E-Class Coupé.

The shoot set the scene for the week-long celebration of fashion and design, which kicked off at Australia’s most iconic building, the Sydney Opera House, where Lee presented his Resort Collection, sending models down the runway sporting another Australian icon – red Akubra hats.

 Find out more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

Blogger Dalton Graham talks fashion as lifestyle

A decade ago, you would have had trouble finding many Australian or New Zealand men who took pride in the way they dress – let alone cared. But, with the advent of digital media, a perceptible shift has occurred that has seen men grow into well-informed, stylish shoppers. As street style websites, such as The Sartorialist, grew and offered a porthole into how those in Milan or Paris wore their suits, e-commerce platforms, such as Mr Porter and MatchesFashion.com, made those wares accessible for the first time.

Dalton Graham, also a talented AFL player for the VFL's Port Melbourne team, observed this shift, and having grown up surrounded by fashion (his father having worked in retail and manufacturing for nearly half a century), saw an opportunity to help fill a gap in the market.

“So many friends of mine didn’t have any idea of how to dress for certain occasions, or would ask me about great places to eat, or didn’t know how to pack for business trips, and so what started as a hobby became a business,” he explains of The Tailored Man, his menswear and lifestyle website that launched in January 2015. The focus, explains Graham, is to “offer honest, up-front, authentic information without too much fluff, to shape a lifestyle that’s achievable to the everyday guy, whether in food, design, fashion or whatever it might be.”

The key to the success of the website, which employs a team of seven, is, according to its founder, its accessibility. “Good style isn’t necessarily about spending a lot of money. It could be about an outfit from [high street retailer] Uniqlo, or spending $150 but getting value for money for that amount.”

With thanks to the content he produces, which features practical guides, news and reviews, as well as his innate understanding of the Australian male, Graham has been called on by various brands to assist in their marketing efforts, and hints at the possibility of expanding the business into an online store. This, he says, would be a natural extension of the aspirational imagery featured online, bridging the gap between information and transaction.

“I think as men when we trust the source, then we feel comfortable in investing, and so we want to take our readers’ trust and help them in their journey to living a stylish life.”

Words Mitchel Oakley Smith