On Wednesday night in New York’s Garment District, a bar high above Times Square was teeming with Australians. Australian designers, Australian models, Australian publicists, even honorary Australians. It might as well have been a meeting of the International Order of Australians in Fashion, though they actually settled on a much less cumbersome name, the Australian Fashion Foundation.
You may not know what this friendly cabal from down under does, but you certainly know some of its members, mainly because Australians are everywhere in New York fashion. One may even be sitting next to you at this very moment.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I always know I’m coming to this party every year because I have so many Australian friends,” said Jason Wu, non-Australian. He was speaking from The Skylark, which was conveniently located just 20 floors above Wu’s office for Hugo Boss. By now, he said, “I guess I’m an honorary Australian.”
Julie Anne Quay, the founder of the social-media site VFiles; Malcolm Carfrae, formerly of Calvin Klein and now the global head of communications at Ralph Lauren, and Rob Newbould, a founder of the talent agency 1+1 Management, organized the foundation six years ago to help other, younger compatriots break into the New York fashion market, not an easy thing to do for those on the other side of the world.
Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo did it the old fashioned way. After leaving Sydney eight and four years ago, respectively, they set up their label Tome here three years ago.
“The dream was always to come to New York and work here. But there was nobody to help you to do that. And there’s no one at home and it’s very, very far away. You have to do it on your own,” Martin said.
He was in the middle of the bar, which was quickly filling up with more Aussies and those who love them — Dion Lee, Francisco Costa, Italo Zucchelli, Ben Watts, Elyse Taylor, Donna D’Cruz and Lincoln Pilcher.
“It’s heaving,” Martin said.
Also making the rounds was 22-year-old Bridget Malcolm — place of birth: Perth, Western Australia.
“What am I doing here in New York?”she said. “I work here as a model and I’m also a classically trained musician. I play the oboe.”
Malcolm is on the cusp of making it in America, but it was not her oboe playing that got her on the cover of the fall issue of V magazine, shot by Mario Testino.
“It’s my first cover and I think first ever proper editorial in the United States,” she beamed.