ROYAL BOTANIC RUNWAY – Melbourne Botanical Gardens

Models at the Royal Botanic Runway. Photography by Amanda Fordyce for Pen To Paper Media.

On a balmy Summer evening in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne, something magical was forming behind the wrought iron gates of one of the city’s nearly two century old garden.

Born from the creativity bestowed by nature, this unique fashion event utilised the wonder of flora to exhibit collections from some of Australia’s elite designers.

The inaugural event, hosted by Jamie Durie, showcased the incredible Collette Dinnigan, Aurelio Costarella, Akira Isagowa and Martin Grant. Created to raise funds for the final stage of the Royal Botanical Garden’s Melbourne Water Strategy Project, this initiative gave the event added meaning and merriment.

The mesmerizing and striking Guilfoyle’s Volcano was the runway setting; a large mountainous structure complete with winding walkway and breathtaking Australian native flowers and plants.

Witnessing such an anticipated and prestigious fashion event in these gorgeous surrounds, with the sun shining on the garments and models, was truly spectacular. After years of witnessing fashion shows executed under the harsh lighting of an enclosed space, it was refreshing to see it literally brought out to nature, and to have the environment be such a big part of the production, and indeed the collections themselves.

Opening the show was Paris based, Martin Grant with his feminine silhouettes of plunging necklines and full, tulip-bottomed skirts; large Heidesommer-esque flower details; slinky black and red flowing chiffons that whispered seduction; and striking geometric monochrome patterned gowns. Martin’s collection was sophisticated, tailored and passionate – a nod to both his Australian past and Paris present.


Aurelio Costarella’s collection was nothing short of phenomenal. It was like being transported into another dimension, with amazonian models adorned with exquisite and mind blowing headpieces of silver feathers so intricately created that they seemed to be held aloft. An ingenious design by milliner, Reny Kestel. With show-stopping gowns of highly embellished feathers, silk and sequins creating patterns of flora throughout the collection, it seemed as though Aurelio’s creations had just floated down from Mount Olympus for the evening – beguiling, beautiful and bold as they were.






Next came Collette Dinnigan’s ethereal and colourful models, brocaded with both hand-sewn and fresh flowers throughout their hair and dresses. Including a stunning strapless bridal gown, full of cascading tulle and subtle sapphire beading, the collection showcased a juxtaposition between the delicate sensibility of nature and it’s strikingly colourful beauty.




Akira model’s blossomed in the evening sunshine, as they literally wrapped themselves in strings of Orchids accompanied by layers of brightly dyed silks. Akin to forest nymphs, the organic and fluid designs of Akira’s collection succinctly conjured the partnership between design and nature perfectly.




Special thanks to Michelle Campbell from Minc Communications and the superbly talented, Amanda Fordyce.


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