Romance Was Born at Australia Fashion Week

Ethereal ensembles in a kaleidoscope of candy colours hit the catwalk on Monday at Australia Fashion Week. The label? Romance Was Born. The theme? Mushroom Magic. The sponsor? None other than Disney.

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Inspired by Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, the designing duo behind Romance Was Born (Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales) created a psychedelic collection that took a bite out of both sides of the mushroom. It was equal parts whimsical and wacky, magical and mad, presenting Cheshire Cat jumpsuits, princess-themed dresses and mushroom-embellished sweaters on a set so sweet it could have given you a toothache. Literally, in fact, given that it was made out of sugar by sugar-craft artist Tanya Schultz of Pip and Pop.

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One outfit (above), comprised of tights, shorts and a sweater in midnight blue, was entirely covered in twinkles from Cinderella while graphics from the film (shoes, birds and squirrels) were appliquéd onto the top. The entire ensemble was finished off with a pair of boxing gloves and Lanvin-inspired ruffled shoes. Another outfit, an oversized coral sweater (below), featured an array of dancing mushrooms that could have been picked straight from the forests of Fantasia.

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Our favourite piece from the collection was a bubble dress in Ladurée pastel hues (below): the corseted top half – over a shirt with exaggerated collar and puffy sleeves – contrasted with the macaron-shaped skirt, as though Cinderella had stepped out onto the catwalk mid-transformation. The overall effect was of a perfectly proportioned silhouette, something which is often difficult to get right when playing with volume.

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Later on, a tiered aqua dress packed tightly with ruffles gave off a distinct Little Mermaid vibe while a loud black kaftan was covered in stars and, on closer inspection, multi coloured Cinderella shoes and a White Rabbit pocket watch. Then, of course, there was that ’70s Cheshire Cat jumpsuit. The Cat’s repeating face gets smaller as it moves towards the torso. Together with its yellow eyes, which pop out from the pink and purple hues, it creates a kaleidoscopic effect so hypnotic you have to tear your gaze away.

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The models, meanwhile, were made up like over-grown children at Halloween, with brightly coloured wigs, antennae, face paints and glitter while the entire show was staged on a set straight out of Sugar Rush, the candy cart racing game from Wreck It Ralph. The intention was to explore “the spectrum of princess femininity” through fabric and colour, but this was as much an exploration of the loss of youth and the inevitability of adulthood. The outfits moved from innocent pastels to sexy neons and finished with dark, heavy jacquards, echoing Alice’s journey through the rabbit hole as she grapples with growing up.

That’s not to say there isn’t a happy ending. The clothes themselves were breathtakingly beautiful and it’s not often there’s a life lesson to take away from a fashion show as a well as a goody bag (which in this case included lollipops made out of hairbands). But Romance Was Born certainly had one: keep indulging your inner child, because sweet dreams are made of these.

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Check out more pictures from the collection in the gallery below. You can see other outfits from Romance Was Born (including some pieces from their collaboration with Marvel, last year) at RomanceWasBorn.com.

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