Backstage at Romance was Born - photos: Oliver Rose
Ever watched first year students ascend the fabled spiral staircase at Hogwarts School of Magic and wished you could partake? Welcome to my world. Tonight, however, at Romance was Born, I had the chance to fulfill that fantasy. Sandwiched between countless warm bodies, we pressed our way up the narrow stairway and into a different world.
The room was a marvel in itself. Reminiscent of a viking's dining hall, it had massive stone walls and an arched oaken ceiling. Running down the centre was a dirt catwalk lined with rocks, logs and tree trunks, with heady incense sticks that spewed sweetly scented smoke in the murky light.
The chamber of secrets.
Directly in front of me, on a gnarled tree branch, sat a giant red ant. Nearby, an orange beetle crawled along a jutting boulder. Opposite, a rugby ball sized fluffy yellow bee looked ready to take flight.
Black hooded watchmen stood guard like solemn monks muttering silent prayers.
Beyond the entrance to the catwalk lay an enchanted forest - spooky, dimly lit and filled with dark promise.
Above the excited murmurs of the waiting audience, crickets chirped, strange dogs barked and a lone violinist plucked at strings creating an eery, rhythmic twang. Terrifying creatures growled in the night. Something lurked around every corner.
The dull stomp of footsteps boomed.
Out from the grey mist stalked a dark nymph clad in black with a glowing gold cross adorning her chest. A green haired tree sprite followed. A black bat came out with cobweb scarf and leather teeth hanging from her skirt. These were the children of the forest and they were dressed to kill.
A cello outfit appeared, harking back to the coat Oscar Wilde famously designed for himself in the late 1870s. Real forest scenes took the form of prints on dresses.
Then a volcano appeared. A real, live, erupting volcano. Eyjafjallajökull - the Sydney edition.
There were campy, fluorescent-haired tropical birds like Fraggle Rock creatures and all black poisonous plants.
Here a lizard, there a crocheted flower child.
A grey dinosaur, a pink Harajuku-girl stalagnite. A unicorn? Queen Amidala? An enormous black hydrangea.
This was fashion at its most spectacular. This was theatre. The clothes might not be commercial, they might not be easy to sell or even easy to wear but if Romance was Born can put on a show like this they deserve each and every success that comes to them.
The finale featured two Kiwis - Zac Vickers and Georgia Fowler - the bride and groom, though connected as one (she sat on his shoulders) in an enormous white lace gown.
It's not often that fashion shows earn standing ovations, but this one caused an uproar. When the designers came out for their final bow, the applause was literally deafening. It was well deserved. This show was a once in a lifetime experience and I feel privileged to have been there to see it.
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