Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Highlights – Resort 18

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is now in its 2nd year of resort collections and after moving the date to May,  it is paying off commercially for many designers who have picked up major buyers overseas.

The event now feels like it has a much more serious business edge to it with less frivolity, and it was great to hear many designers saying they had to rush and have business meetings with major buyers both locally and overseas. Sure there are still a lot of young prancers standing around outside, but most are outside for a reason.

Dion Lee opened the event at the Sydney Opera House, an iconic location which sets an exciting buzz and helps add a global feel, making you miss the days when it was held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

With over 40 shows packed tightly in one week, we attended Sass & Bide, C/meo Collective, Akira Isogowa, We are Kindred, Yousef Akbar, Steven Khalil, The Innovators (Fashion Design Studio) and sadly missing Katama menswear which I thought I wouldn’t like, but turned out to be getting some great reviews from others.

Here were the highlights of the week.

Akira Isogawa

This year the Japanese master turned his hand to a sportier feel with models wearing cool Nike sneakers.  A far cry from his early days of sending the models down the runway in knitted socks because he couldn’t afford shoes.  The collection had a modern feel with androgyny, but still keeping his Japanese ethos and some signature beautiful textured pieces in more feminine styles.  There was a touch of sports luxe with some oversized pieces, but with a uniqueness. Akira is a designer who has evolved yet kept true to his brand ethos.

Yousef Akbar

Yousef Akbar is an emerging designer with his first stand-alone show this year at MBFWA (Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia).  The collection showcased strong jewel colours, sequins, colour blocking. It was modern, and with my love of sequins, there was a touch of disco. It was one show that made me sit up and get a bit excited. Yousef’s work is no stranger to me, I selected him years ago as one of two students to be submitted to Vogue Italia September issue when I was on the judging panel. Watching him over the years, there is no doubt there are certain designers with an extreme talent you just know who are destined for greater things.  It’s been wonderful to see his love of tasteful glitz evolve and to be recognised with his first stand-alone show. Perhaps also the highlight of the show was a loving tribute of his appreciation, by embracing Nicholas Huxley, Head Teacher of Fashion Design Studio at the end of his show.

Steven Khalil Resort 18

While I am ordinarily no fan of evening wear and gowns, I must admit it’s hard to not admire the beauty of some of the beading and fabrics which Steven Khalil does to perfection. The craftsmanship is simply exquisite, while I am not particularly fussed by Bridal pieces it was the elements of beading, the fabrics and texture and work, which really made this a show stopper.


Phoebes Garland is the Co-founder & Co-owner of Garland & Garland Fashion & Fashion, a boutique leading fashion sales & consultancy agency based in Sydney and is a Fashion Features Writer for Exposed Online.

Between the two of them, Phoebes & Robert Garland have over 60 years’ sales experience in fashion, publishing and advertising.

Phoebes is an industry mentor to designers with Australian fashion industry body, Australian Fashion Chamber and is on the Advisory Board for Fashion Design Studio (TAFE NSW) and is a regular contributor to Australian fashion industry magazine, Ragtrader. 

A passionate supporter for finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, Phoebes Garland is also an ambassador to Shake it up Australia Foundation, which is partnered with the Michael J Fox Foundation. 

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