Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales of Romance Was Born have always been the type to go against the grain.
If last year’s drug trip-inspired ‘Mushroom Magic’ show at MBFWA didn’t make that evident enough, this year they chose to forgo a traditional runway presentation entirely. Instead the duo approached artist Rebecca Baumann to produce an installation at Sydney’s Carriageworks, titled ‘Reflected Glory’, that combines art and fashion in an entirely new way for the label. The installation is centred on Romance Was Born’s latest collection, which draws inspiration from the various celebrations and rituals that have defined the designers’ lives.
Each dress in the collection references a different celebration or ritual. One dress, for example, was constructed from the Madonna t-shirt Luke wore when he first met Anna at a house party, and was appropriately referred to as the “house party dress”.
Each piece in the collection is a one-off piece, and a demi-couture sensibility pervades the garments. The bodice of one dress was cut from iridescent silk the designers had custom woven in Paris, while another piece features mirrored leather that was printed in Italy. Some pieces were created from repurposed pieces that the designers had collected for later use, including various vintage pieces.
The designers said they wanted to take a break from the fast pace of the industry, and the installation, which will be open to the public until May 11, was the perfect way to do so. By removing many of the distractions -- like music, which the designers say they are constantly “thinking of” throughout all stages of design -- the significance of the clothes is heightened.
In fact, the only sound in the installation is the grinding and squeaking of the revolving centrepiece created by Rebecca Baumann, and intentionally so. The overarching intention of the installation was to allow people, and not merely fashion editors and buyers, to see the garments up close at a slower pace, and to account for the double takes that are required to truly appreciate a RWB collection -- something both designers and artist achieved perfectly.