Whether it’s just in my head or actual fact doesn’t really matter – I’ll damn use every dirty little trick in the book to get you on my team – but I am pretty sure there is an exciting buzz lingering after Sydney Fashion Week. Mostly everyone I have spoken to, or rather anyone who’s asked me about my favorite shows this year, editors and journalists alike, agrees with me: Toni Maticevski’s collection was “magnificent”, the “best of the week”! I had never heard of the man before Tuesday night, but was told he does eveningwear, though not exactly the kind of red carpet gowns you would expect. “Trust me, you will like it,” winked my mentor for the week, Irene Nicholas of Green With Envy boutique.
The show started with the voice of Yves Saint Laurent, announcing his retirement and then skipped to the one of Pierre Berger, speaking at Yves’ funeral. Not many Australians would have understood these French monologues but it set the tone nonetheless. What followed was a parade of impressive elegance, with powerful, unmistakable winks to Dior’s New Look. The skirts were full, the waists cinched and the shape overall 50s. “It’s my all-time favorite fashion era,” Toni told me during our buying appointment. “I always incorporate it into my work, even if it’s a hint. There is something about women dressing up and being princesses, that makes my job fun. It started out with a silhouette. Everything was to be A-line, which was a bit of a follow-through from winter. But winter was darker and sexier. I wanted summer to be lighter, fun and happy. So I really played with color, texture and patterns a lot more.”
What was most stunning though was his use of different fabrics, especially neoprene, in shapes and forms I had not yet seen before. He mostly let the fabric speak for itself and created shapes by draping, rather than cutting. “Everyone was working in such a little dress format,” he explains. “I really wanted to take it somewhere else. I know that Alber sees it for beautiful little cocktail dresses but I hadn’t seen it used in gowns and/or sculpted. It’s a really impractical fabric but I was so amazed to see how it draped and what it could be.” There was one ball gown in particular, in white and neon pink that had the entire room reaching for their Iphones and cameras. It was a real Cinderella moment.
So why don’t we know about this talented, young, Macedonian man, who, by the way is the sweetest person on earth? (It’s a well-known fact that many of his female fans wish he was straight and that their husbands feel mildly threatened when he’s around…) Apparently Toni worked under Donna Karan and Cerutti, has shown in New York for a few years, and won several awards. One might blame it on Australian sense of pride and entitlement. I was told Australians prefer to keep their talent on the island and to have a big head is frowned upon. “It holds a lot of people back,” complains Toni. “But I love what I do and I think I find people by chance or luck or kismet and you go on that ride with like-minded people. It may take longer to find your way, but then I look back at what an enormous history and vocabulary of work I have that I can reference. Not many designers have that.”
Needless to say Toni can credit yet another like-minded fan to his reigns and I can not wait to wear one of his creations (which he’s personally customizing for me) in New York! A large selection of his collection will be on sale at the Green With Envy Boutiques in Melbourne and in my e-pop-up store on their e-commerce site. (Stay tuned for more info later.)
Look 1: Beaded dress (weighs more than 10 kilos and retails at $13,000!) worn over cream silk dress by Toni Maticevski; Mint and white loafers by Karen Walker for Beau Coops; Sunglasses by Stella McCartney.
Photos by Toby Hudson by Icebergs in Bondi.