Romance Was Born celebrates the peak of Australian fashion

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: Models get ready backstage for the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 09, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Romance Was Born’s Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett continue to remind us that some of Australian fashion’s greatest moments are when they weave dreamy tendrils of whimsy with the familiar Australiana kitsch with their Resort ’23 Done Zone collection at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. Inspired by iconic artist Ken Done’s reef paintings, the brand presented the show in Done’s own gallery at The Rocks, adorned with Done’s colorful artwork (all also sold to lucky punters) and a set inspired scuba with knitted coral.

Even before the first model had turned the corner, the feeling of nostalgia was heavy in the air as sound clips from Muriel’s wedding played over the speakers. And then the clothes arrived…

Suddenly, the clues to Muriel’s marriage made sense. It was haute couture on the island of Hibiscus. It was the most restless of nights at Lassiter’s Hotel in Erinsborough. Rainbows of sequins and hand-sewn beads reinterpreted Done’s paintings in a dazzling world of sequins, including an exact replica of Done’s Tiger Lady painting on the back of an evening blazer. Iridescent cocktail dresses received exaggerated ruffles perfect for the local Blue Light Disco as well as Carmen Miranda-esque dresses. It was camp, it was colorful, it was a perfect wardrobe match for your West Coast Cooler or Bacardi and Coke.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)

According to Romance Was Born co-founder Luke Sales, working with Done has been a lifelong ambition for him and fellow designer and founder Plunkett. “This collection is something we’ve wanted to do for ages,” Sales told Grazia. “So it’s a dream come true!” I think there are a lot of ideas that we’ve had over the years if we ever worked with Ken, so it’s been really quite organic and easy to piece together a collection.”

Comparing the two brands’ work — Done himself has long had a clothing line that showcased his artistic aesthetic — it seems almost inevitable that the two will end up collaborating on something. Perhaps most surprising was why this hadn’t happened until now. According to Sales, Done’s rich archive of work is one that he and fellow designer Plunkett have only just begun to delve into with this show.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)

“The one and only iconic Ken Done is forever an inspiration,” says Sales. “There are so many aspects of Ken’s work that we could learn from. It’s like we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s definitely a Club Tropicana vibe and an 80s Aussie vibe that we can’t avoid.

But beneath the catwalk foam and ruffles was a reminder of what has made Australian fashion such a powerful player on the global arena in the past. The balance between fun frivolity and the heritage of fashion as a craft underlies the work of Romance Was Born. This is what made the works of Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson so magical (who did not by chance collaborate with Romance Was Born), made House of Merivale an icon of their time and Morrissey Edmiston an unforgettable duo . Romance Was Born continues a well-respected tradition of irreverence.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 09: A model poses during the Romance Was Born show during Afterpay Australian Fashion Week 2022 Resort ’23 Collections at Ken Done Gallery, The Rocks on May 9, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt Jelonek/WireImage)

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