Fashfest 2016 Designer Review – The Canberra Centre


Sleek styling from Saba during the Praxis showcase on Friday night


The Canberra Centre is arguably the biggest and best retail space in Canberra, and at the forefront of contemporary fashion, dinging and lifestyle. Since it’s refurbishment in 2006 it has become the premier destination for Canberran’s to indulge in a bit of retail therapy, sporting a number of stores not seen in any other malls across Canberra.

In recent years it has also lead a change in how customers interact with and experience it’s retailers. The Canberra Centre hosts seasonal events based around the Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections of its retailers, and has brought a host of talented individuals like Maragret Zhang, Luc Wiseman, and Elle Ferguson and Tash Sefton to present talks to eager patrons. There’s also been a number of local interstate artists who have been invited to produce installations for the space.

It makes sense then that the Canberra Centre would take a partnership with Fashfest in 2016, and showcase the current collections of their retailers on the runway.


Fresh Spring style from M.J. Bale


Youthful and cool look from Country Road



Office-ready looks with the briefcase of my dreams from Saba


On Friday night, across the Praxis and Limina shows, the Canberra Centre showed collections from eight of their retailers, giving Canberran’s a rare opportunity to see garments from these stores brought to life on the runway. I’m going to focus on the menswear collections, but I have to say there was an equal showing of strong brands for both men and women in these shows, and they styling of the shows was really quite impressive.

Menswear looks were provided by Saba, Aquila, Country Road and M.J. Bale. The looks spanned casual, corporate and formal dress codes, and offered a lot of different options for the men of Canberra to consider. There was strong diversity in the materials and colours represented, and it was easy to see how pieces from one retailer could be mixed effortlessly with those of another. This is a testament to one of the strengths of the Canberra Centre, which is understanding the differences of their customer base, and understanding how to cater to them.

Particular favourite items of mine from these collections were a beautiful tan briefcase from Saba, a gorgeous pair of navy suede driving moccasins from Aquila, and two boldly patterned blazers from M.J. Bale.


Relaxed casual vibes from Country Road



This model slaying the runway in head-to-toe Aquila



Loved this look, but especially the driving mocs from Aquila

And the truly genius element of these shows of course, is that all of the stock is available right now.

The partnership of Fashfest and the Canberra Centre represents a truly brilliant marriage of readily accessible retailers, and emerging and established designers who’s garments need to be ordered, fitted and usually hand-made before they are ready to purchase. It gives the Fashfest audience the best of both worlds, or to have their shirt and to wear it too as it were.

I’m really excited to see what partnerships like this will mean for Fashfest in the coming years, and as a consumer I am really thrilled to see the Canberra Centre taking such an active role in changing the retail landscape here in Canberra, and making shopping something that I actually want to go out and do again, rather than ordering from my couch in a pair of daggy sweatpants.


Bold is the name of the game with these killer blazers from rising menswear champion M.J. Bale