I remember the cow project in New York and most recently those teddy bears in Berlin, but welcoming me to Melbourne yesterday on the red-eye from Auckland were these critters. Apparently it’s Spring Racing Carnival here soon and these kitsch creations were right at home in the leviathon foyer between the Crown Casino and the Crown Towers where I’m staying. Waterfalls and pools at their hooves, cascading down the massive cabaret-style winding staircase here. Thankfully, once inside the hotel itself, the lobby’s gloriously decadent and all kitsch is left behind with the gold-digging girls preening around the slot machines across the way.
Without any sleep, I dive into the deep end as I’ve been invited as a delegate to the Asia Pacific Fashion Forum that’s taking place here. Only a few blocks away at the quirky Federation Square complex, but light years away from those queer horses, I’m enlightened with some of the industry’s major players with the formula for ROE (that’s Return on Equity for those of you not versed in hardcore fashion biz – yikes!) and the ubiquitous China equation. Heavyweight guests kept us alert despite the PowerPoint (lack of) animation of tables and graphs and the cavernous stage – Bonnie Brooks, President of the Lane Crawford Joyce Group; Dr. John Gattorna, a "Supply Chain Thought Leader", Jay McIntosh, Retail expert at Ernst & Young, and Mark Neuman, International Trade & Global Strategies at Limited Brands (that’s Henri Bendel, etc, mind you).
Gulp. Two days on, this boy’s got some serious writer’s cramp. And a slight case of mental cramp too probably. But it was truly gripping stuff. Recently appointed head of IMG Fashion – Asia Pacific, Simon Locke who founded Australian Fashion Week and just sold it to IMG is a bit lost in the photo above. Poor souls at that podium. Thank god I was not a speaker. I can just feel the sweat form on my brow.
There are due to be many consolidations, redundancies, new ventures and exciting goings-on in the region now that IMG has its hands in nearly every single Asian cookie jar. Fern Mallis from NY’s governing rag-trade body, 7th on Sixth and new IMG emissary is in town. Have to catch up with her to get the inside scoop later.
Finally an hour to put your feet up, Robb. Loving these Crown slippers. Off to meet the vivacious Patty Huntington who I took to immediately last week when we met at the Karen Walker show in New Zealand. She’s the Australasian bureau chief for WWD and writes for the Sydney Herald. Dinner and some beverages are in order. Signing off, Robb.
Proceded to get lost in the labyrinth of between the many luxurious Crown Promenade and Towers. There’s a gorgeous circus atmosphere with fountains gurgling up electric neon coloured water and massive torches hissing in grand clouds of heat along the river Yarra. The first night in my room, I saw the entire room light up to spectacular effect even through the blinds and thought I was witnessing a UFO. Now that I’ve passed the promenade and felt the heat of these torch chimneys, I see why my room ten floors up felt like it was touched by the light of Heaven. Quite an impressive part of the city here in South Bank.
When we finally did rendez-vous, Patty Huntington took me to Cookie, the local fashionista dive where she began the night by ordering these monstrosities. Bloody, bloody, bloody Mary’s. Lordy.
Now time for some shut eye – really.
MELBOURNE – DAY 1 of SHOWS
Yes, folks, more horses. The Easton Pearson show was at Champions, the Australian Racing Museum. Here we have a quirky exhibit, including some horse-&-jocky-matching-outfit-photography-from-around-the-world by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Lucky for me that some of the PR companies in Melbourne are so out of it that they invite VIPs from half-way across the world to attend but try to give them standing allocations. Poor things. This trooper did a bee-line for the exit and found aforementioned fun exhibit downstairs instead. Yee Haaaw!
Nicola Finetti was next. A few nice items, price competitive as it may be. Ghosts of "Albert Prada" or his siamese twin "Miuccia Elbaz" however kept me from applauding with abandon.