They do things a little differently in the antipodes, and Australia's Fashion Week compares to no other. The mood at this year's event was refreshing as a light Bondi Beach breeze, with six consecutive days of sunny Sydney weather providing the perfect backdrop for relaxed and wearable resort wear collections. A pleasingly diverse group of fresh-faced models wore local labels with pride, but posed backstage with their tongues out. The clothes meant business, but no one was taking themselves too seriously. Enthusiasm won out over pretension. Shouldn't it always?

Gritty contemporary arts center Carriageworks hosted most shows, but many designers couldn't help but take advantage of the city's enviable scenery by heading offsite. Aje opened the week harbourside, as the sun started setting over the Opera House. A few days later, Ten Pieces literally drained a swimming pool and transformed it into a highly Instagrammable runway. Emma Mulholland debuted her vacation-themed collection with a pop-up souvenir shop at the Paramount House Hotel, attracting a crowd of underground party people who wouldn't be caught dead sitting front row. Industry veteran Carla Zampatti closed out the celebrations with glitzy gowns and an orchestra, to a round of applause. It all went by so quickly — there was barely time to hit the beach.

Five big trends we spotted backstage at Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week 2019, below. This summer, dress like you live down under!

Street-Meets-Resort Wear

At Double Rainbouu, models casually struck poses in the chill leafy surrounds of Sydney's Chinese Garden of Friendship rather than strutting down the runway. This set the tone for a streetwear-influenced sarongs-meet-sneakers resort collection more suited for a surfing roadtrip with mates than a five-star island resort getaway. Ideal, really. Ten Pieces and PE Nation followed suit: hoodies, tracksuit jackets, and even fanny packs... with a coastal twist.

Double Rainbouu

Flower Power

Showing romantic dresses decorated with bright botanical prints and delicately embroidered desert daisies, Aje and Alice McCall paid tribute to Australia's unique landscape without veering into kitsch. Native bouquets stuffed into woven basket bags and big beach-ready totes added some whimsical, patriotic detail.

Aje

Romantic Sleeves

There's something to be said for clean, simple lines. Then again, what's a party dress without puffy bell sleeves? Several labels made the case for both on and off-the-shoulder details: Aje went for billowing clouds of fabric, Alice McCall fluffy fringing, and Jonathan Simkhai draping curtains of lace.

Alice McCall

'70s Details

Puffy sleeves weren't the only nostalgic element at play. Bec and Bridge set the retro 70s tone with a shagadelic white fluffy runway, then added a bunch of throwback touches: platform heels, slouched boots, chunky belts, and big sunnies. Plus flares, flares, flares. 1979>2019.

Bec and Bridge

Sydney Olympics-Style Swimwear

One of the most memorable moments of the week came courtesy of PE Nation. Proving its dedication to classic, practical activewear, the brand announced a new collaboration with Speedo — an icon of the lap pool — with a surprise rush of water. A gold medal for runway drama... and maybe the freestyle relay, too.

PE Nation

Photography: Sonny Vandevelde

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