Images courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria

remembering australia’s coolest 80s fashion magazine

Three decades later, 'Collections' is a bombastic time capsule of an ongoing party it's painful to have missed.

by Wendy Syfret
11 May 2016, 2:20pm

Images courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria

From 1983 to 1993 the Fashion Design Council was the most exciting force in Australian style. Founded in Melbourne by illustrator and designer Robert Pearce, artist Kate Durham, and arts law graduate Robert Buckingham, the group described itself as "brazen hussies, glamour pusses, spivs and bright sparks; rising stars, mischief-makers."

"There was a sense something was happening in fashion and we felt we had the opportunity to do something meaningful," Robert recalled in conversation with i-D Australia last year. The designers, models, creatives, and cool kids that formed their ranks weren't interested in conforming to a style heritage from Europe. Rather, they were inspired by parties, nightclubs, and the looks that lurked inside of them.

Members included Martin Grant, Christopher Graf, Kara Baker, Bruce Slorach and Sara Thorn, Fiona Scanlan, Peter Morrissey and Leona Edmiston, Brighid Lehmann, Tamasine Dale, Gavin Brown, Vanessa Leyonhjelm, and Richard Nylon. The FDC promoted its work through parades, events, activations, installations, and groundbreaking publications.

As a young designer Kara Baker was involved with every event FDC presented. Speaking to i-D, she remembers there was "a sense that it was a special moment." The FDC gave young designers the support and encouragement they needed to experiment with original and idiosyncratic designs. "The FDC promoted underground emerging creative designers and showcased them to a young appreciative audience, which created a demand for the clothing we produced and helped build our businesses," Kara adds.

In the mid 80s, Robert Pearce had established a design studio and begun working on the short lived but influential magazine Collections. Three decades later, Collections exists as a bombastic time capsule to an ongoing party it's painful to have missed.

Recognizing the cultural importance of the magazine, the National Gallery of Victoria has archived almost every edition. Presently, a selection of Collections highlights is on display in the 200 Years of Fashion exhibition. The gallery recently opened up its archives to i-D, inviting us to share a few of our favorite looks. The editorial spreads are at once a history class and lesson in style. Big earrings are not a prerequisite, but they are highly recommended.


Text Wendy Syfret
Images courtesy of the National Gallery of Victoria

fashion design council
robert pearce
the national gallery of victoria