Grand Marnier / Powerhouse Museum Fashion of the Year 1999

Carla Zampatti


Prada Sport

Fendi baguette bag


Grand Marnier / Powerhouse Museum Fashion of the Year 1999 was on display at the Powerhouse Museum from 16 November 1999 to November 2000

Inaugurated in 1991, the Fashion of the Year program is the annual selection of garments and accessories from the ready-to-wear ranges of significant contemporary Australian and international designers for inclusion in the museum’s collection. A panel comprising Powerhouse Museum curators and fashion editors selected those designers whose work encapsulated that year’s most influential and characteristic themes and trends.

Two distinct trends marked that year’s Fashion of the Year selection. Firstly, there is the sports fashion fusion trend inspired by sportswear shapes and fabrics but transformed into edgy fashion statements. In contrast is the colourful, pastiche of the bohemian chic trend with its hippy undertones and references to styles and fabrics drawn from all corners of the globe. East meets west combinations have also been important with designers drawing on the fabrics, details and styles of different Asian cultures.

Colour can also define a season and in 1999 it was grey with red used as a highlight. The panel also recognised the important place accessories play in fashion, allowing us to transform an outfit they often attain a seasonal ‘must have’ status.

Representing these themes and styles were Australian-based designers Akira Isogawa, Carla Zampatti, and Tull Price and Rodney Adler for Royal Elastics. International designers selected this year were Italian labels Marni, Prada Sport and Fendi.

Australian-based designer Akira Isogawa has had an outstanding year, showing his collections at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week and in Paris. He also received the Australian Designer of the Year award at the Australian Fashion Industry Awards. His work is now found in some of the most prestigious boutiques and department stores in London, Paris and the USA. With his exquisite fabrics and unique designs he creates east meets west fusion clothes of technical precision and effortless understatement.

Carla Zampatti has been conferred icon status by the Australian fashion industry. She has been running her own successful design house since 1965 and is an astute businesswoman. Her clothes are elegant, chic with a modern edge. This year’s collection featured the colour of the season, grey, and balanced modernity and nostalgia, simplicity and opulence with versatile elements that can be mixed and matched to dress up and down and individualise garments.

Royal Elastics, the funky leisure footwear brand was the brainchild of two Australians, Tull Price and Rodney Adler. They recognised consumers were in need of a more fashion oriented athletic runner rather than simply wearing sports shoes as a fashion statement. Thus they developed the Royal Elastics range which fuses fashion and sports influences and uses in-built elastic panels replacing traditional laces. The underground fashion and music scene snapped them up in London assigning them cult footwear status among the young and hip.

Consuelo Castiglioni, hailed in the fashion media as Italy’s new design superstar, is creator of the Marni label. Her style has been dubbed ‘bohemian chic’ and ‘hippy de luxe’ as she draws inspiration from all corners of the globe and mixes texture and colour into unlikely combinations. Feminine, well made and easy to wear, her colourful clothes augur well for the demise of black.

Like Royal Elastics, Miuccia Prada has been looking carefully at the sports/fashion trend of the 1990s and giving it a fashion emphasis with her label Prada Sport. Her winter 1999 collections drew inspiration from the shapes and fabrics used in ski, hiking and climbing clothes. The garments cocoon the body, protecting it within a well-defined silhouette, which is padded, zippered and velcroed in place.

Royal Elastics - 'Splice Clog'

Lastly, it is the Fendi baguette bag that became the most talked about accessory this year. Once again it was an Italian firm run by the Fendi sisters that took out the style honours. Recognising that an outfit can be transformed by a smart accessory the Fendi baguette provided a solution in a variety of fabrics from the brown lizard skin version to cashmere knit, Afghan style mirrored embroidery to grey flannel.

The panel for this year included: Jane de Teliga, Style Director, The Australian Women’s Weekly, Editor-at-Large, Harper’s Bazaar; Marion Hume, Fashion Editor, The Australian; Louise Mitchell, Curator, Decorative Arts & Design, Powerhouse Museum; and Jennifer Sanders, Associate Director, Collections & Museum Services, Powerhouse Museum.

Akira Isogawa

The Powerhouse Museum has one of the largest and most significant collections of costume, costume accessories, textiles and associated material in Australia. The museum began collecting costume in 1880, the year of its foundation and now the collection numbers over 30,000 objects from all over the globe.