On Monday, a year and a half after Jonathan Simkhai first visited Sydney’s Bondi Beach on vacation, he returned to the birthplace of surf lifesaving to present his resort 2020 collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
Staged at sunset at the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, one of Australia’s oldest surf clubs, which was founded in 1906 and reopened in 2013 after a modernist do-over by Sydney architectural firm Durbach Block Jaggers, the show and collection were inspired by what Simkhai calls the “magic hour.”
“When you’re with someone you love and it’s 5 o’clock and the sun’s setting and the person you’re with, their face is glowing and you have a drink in hand and you’re having the best time,” he explained backstage after the show. “I thought how can I make a woman feel like she can put her dress on and be in that moment?”
The answer apparently was via a skin-tight, blush pink napa leather flight suit, which was the collection’s departure point. This was followed by a series of leather wrap skirts, baggy trousers and sexy bralettes with criss-cross straps and tough chic hardware in tan, mustard and black and a jacquard jersey section featuring hand-painted “chain” and “travel” prints in wrap dresses and louche, wide-leg trousers — the latter worked back with matching bikini tops, a sporty blouson with ruched bishop’s sleeves and a peignoir.
Although not completely eschewing his trademark lace dresses, Simkhai largely focused on a more minimalist aesthetic, which included several tuxedo looks and a sports luxe vibe.
A series featuring large chain eyelet embellishments looked heavy-handed, but Simkhai’s plays on the sunset/sunrise color palettes of tangerine, saffron yellow, coral, magenta and ombré gradations of blues and pinks in a series of light-as-air plissé chiffon maxidresses and skirts were pretty.
Made for Instagram, the show represented the first time that Simkhai had ever shown either a pre-collection or his swimwear on a runway, he said.
“One of the reasons why we were really excited about showing here was the opportunity to create digital content,” the designer said. “I think that people will sit at home and maybe be at their desk and see the images of the show in Bondi and even if they’re not here, I think that they would be touched by the imagery. I thought that this was the perfect backdrop for that.”