Emerging Designer Award Finalists

Now in its third year, this prestigious prize has been designed to encourage outstanding design talent and excellence within the Australian fashion industry. It also provides an important platform for emerging designers to showcase their creativity and innovation to a national audience.

Meet the 2020 finalists

Ali Rauf

This elegant colour-blocked design by Ali Rauf of Bird Skin was created to capture the magic of a day at the races with friends. Sewn from a zero waste pattern, the dress is socially conscious and sustainable – a passion point for the designer.

It also showcases the subtle texture of finely gathered pleats that were incorporated after a visit to a family-owned pleating workshop in Melbourne – the last of its kind in the country - preserving the art of couture pleating. The striking colour palette was specifically selected to turn heads on race day and is evocative of the vibrancy and joy of spring.

Jonathan Usi

A textured monochrome basket-weave pattern brings designer Jonathan Usi’s dramatic look to life. Inspired by the concept of how we as humans are connected during the pandemic, the piece takes a modern theme and grounds it in a classic racewear silhouette.

The high-lustre fabric is woven meticulously around the bodice of the dress, while a sweeping skirt with a central box pleat at the back brings the volume and drama. Bow detailing at each shoulder accentuates the craftsmanship while finishing the look with a feminine flourish.

Kevin Kishore de Beer

For his label Kevin Kishore, demi-couture designer Kevin Kishore de Beer has turned out a bright-striped look that brings an artisan feel to trackside glamour. This knee-skimming style traces the body and is enhanced with a delicate draped origami sleeve. Cut from Cambodian hand-loomed silk in rainbow shades, the effect is exuberant and full of joy.

The look is topped with a bespoke headpiece crafted by the Northern Territory-based creative from farmed emu eggs. Reminiscent of a blooming lotus flower, the design was chosen to represent the beauty of society’s resilience through adversity.

Laura Keogh

The renowned Flemington rosebushes inform the striking yet feminine design of Laura Keogh’s 1950s-inspired look. With a desire to bring part of the famous course to her entry, Keogh incorporated hand-draped fabric petals into the bodice of the dress in a meticulous process that took two full days to complete.

The designer’s passion for the full skirts and cinched waists of the fifties is evident in this figure-flattering silhouette, cut from vibrant red silk. Side pleats and a tulle petticoat enhance the volume, while a hand-made headpiece, evocative of softly curved rose leaves, delivers a modern flourish.

Liana Hastie

Entitled Empress, this head-turning confection by Liana Hastie simply screams “spring”. The director of Queensland’s Sonlia Fashion has drawn inspiration from 2020 - discovering beauty and richness amid the chaos, with the spring season a reminder of a fresh beginning set to emerge.

The dramatic full skirt features over 35 meters of tulle in shades of fuchsia and peach, while the bodice was carefully cut from a beautiful floral-braid lace sourced from overseas that informed the design. A delicate veil crafted from fine gold wiring and tulle is a wink to the face coverings that have become almost mandatory of late, another reference to finding the positives in a challenging year.

Luisa Manea

Natural fibres and a lightweight, effortless feel are key to Luisa Manea’s racewear look – based in tropical Cairns, they’re her essential building blocks for wearable warm-weather design. Her location also influenced the theme of the piece – a bright, fun look that speaks of the lush flowers and foliage particular to Far North Queensland.

The breezy cotton voile composition – crafted purposefully without the use of zips or darting - is accentuated with frills and gathers to create interest. A wide wraparound bow-tied belt lends soft structure to the silhouette and can be removed for a looser feel, adding versatility and comfort.

Mark Blake

The quintessential ‘80s power suit was the jumping-off point for Mark Blake’s eye-popping printed jumpsuit splashed in high-octane blue and white. Structural elements are a passion point for the MBLAKE designer, so the incorporation of corsetry was also an important inclusion here.

Cut from a lively floral jacquard, the finished look is boundary-pushing and bright. Sharp shoulder pads, hand-made fabric covered buttons and a waist-defining belt add thoughtful impact to the bold design, perfect for the race-goer who isn’t afraid to break with convention.

Olivia Deur

Flowers have long served as creative inspiration for Olivia Deur, and the daffodils and tulips that signal the arrival of spring felt right for this design. With a wish to create an organic and feminine mood, Deur crafted a draped bodice and full skirt with a straight hem, tucked under for an added touch of volume.

Artistic x-rays of flowers along with black and white illustrations informed the monochrome colour palette, with a soft and lustrous feature fabric carefully selected to convey the mood. The fabric’s lines have been perfectly positioned to flow vertically down the body, so the dramatic neckline is kept in balance.

Phong (Errick) Kim

It could be said that black and white is the ultimate racewear colour combination. Inspired by the chessboard and Formula One flag, designer Errick Kim stayed true to the classic palette, instead experimenting with unique fabrications and design elements. His dress is crafted almost entirely from French grosgrain using an intricate basket-weave method.

Each piece was inserted individually before being stitched together to create the woven panels, with other sections were left free to lend structure and ensure the completed look wasn’t too stiff. Grosgrain pleating and pom-pom braid impart a touch of wit to an otherwise striking design.

Sylvia Ktori

Hope, fantasy, femininity and optimism were the key words that Klovia designer Sylvia Ktori and her business partner Kony Diaman kept firmly in mind when imagining this vivid and high-spirited look. Crafted from fuchsia-dyed French Chantilly and corded lace over a smooth foundation of silk satin, the figure-skimming dress is accentuated with custom Klovia cotton embroidery in a coordinating colour palette.

The carefully shaped and gathered sleeves and knee-length hemline are finished with another helping of frothy Chantilly, while a sprinkling of crystal embellishment adds a final hit of glamour.