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Models don crash helmets at Australian Fashion Week

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Models wearing crash helmets and pod-shaped skirts gave Australian Fashion Week a futuristic twist on Tuesday, contrasting with catwalks featuring teensy bikinis, short summer dresses and flowing evening wear.

Models wearing crash helmets present designs by Daniel Avakian during Australian Fashion Week in Sydney April 29, 2008. Models wearing crash helmets and pod-shaped skirts gave Australian Fashion Week a futuristic twist on Tuesday, contrasting with catwalks featuring teensy bikinis, short summer dresses and flowing evening wear. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Over 100 buyers from 15 countries have descended on Sydney for the 13th Australian Fashion Week where over 100 new and established Australian designers are on show, ranging from the well-known Alex Perry to newcomers like Daniel Avakian.

Avakian, a former tow truck driver, chose to base his second collection on Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” with models in black, white, and silver fabrics tailored into pod, diamond and geometric shapes.

“I’ve always been into sci-fi, Orson Welles, George Lucas, so it was only a matter of time before I based a collection on this,” Avakian told Reuters backstage after his show which ended with two models in floor length coats and crash helmets.

“The helmets were representative of the rebels and disorder in “A Clockwork Orange” while I used metallic sheens as these can make women look beautiful.”

Avakian, who studied fashion in Italy and London, admitted his shift from tow truck driver to designer might seem rather odd but he put it down to one half of his Armenian family being panelbeaters and the other half dressmakers.

Feminine tailored shorts, silky satin tops and colourful flowing gowns appeared on the catwalk courtesy of Lisa Ho, who is worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez while fashion house Zimmermann offered short summer dresses in floral patterns with folds and pleats.

Paris-based Michelle Jank presented a collection inspired by her work in India while Nicole Finetti’s thigh-high dresses vied for attention with front-row celebrities such as actresses Mischa Barton and Miranda Otto and singer Danni Minogue.

Simon Lock, who founded Australian Fashion Week in 1995 but sold it to New York-based sports, lifestyle and marketing company IMG in 2005, said the increased number of celebrities in attendance was part of the event’s growth.

But he said this year’s event also had arguably the strongest line-up of designers and international buyers to date.

“The international interest has been tremendous,” said Lock, who has his sights set on making Sydney the world’s fifth fashion capital after New York, London, Milan and Paris.

More than 60 Australian labels are now exported, worth an estimated $240 million a year, with interest on the rise.

The Australian Trade Commission, Austrade, said representatives from top fashion houses in the United States, Britain, Canada, Italy, Singapore, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, China and New Zealand were attending fashion week with Indonesia bringing the largest delegation.

“Many Indonesian people are luxury brand conscious but also interested in Australian fashion for its fresh and innovative appeal,” said Tjut Devi, a spokeswoman for Austrade Indonesia.

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