Like the seasons, fashion has its cycles, so with the close of the Spring Carnival chapter, I set out to uncover what’s hot for the party-set this summer – especially those wanting to up the ante at a special ball or festive occasion. Evening wear, I thought, visions of flowing gowns glistening with sequins springing to mind. Things that I used to wear but no longer fit into… But I’m happy to be a fashion voyeur on behalf of others, so I rang Carmel Busacca at Caval Fashion Agency for the low-down on what’s trending right now.
One of Melbourne’s top fashion agencies, Caval, supplies retailers such as La Bella Donna (Collins Place), Gowns (Brunswick), Archies (Richmond), Aspirations (Brighton) and Swish (Bentleigh, Port Melbourne, South Yarra) with evening collections, mostly from the label George. ‘The George label is very popular with bridesmaids,’ said Carmel. ‘Not only are they very reasonably priced, we’ve got a point of difference for our customers to other evening-wear labels in that a lot of the range is made in Australia. It’s owned by George Spiro who has owned the label for forty years.’
Summer deliveries are being made right now – specifically for the party season. ‘That seems to be our main focus,’ says Carmel. ‘As well as bridesmaids and that’s an area where George definitely has a niche market. With all the beautiful beading and quality fabrics, the gowns are excellent value. They’re also made in a really good range of sizes from six to sixteen which is a rare thing.’
Most of the George samples at Caval are in a size 10, so luckily my wonderful friend Rochelle agreed to come along and model for this shoot before she starts a new television production job this week. Got her just in time! (Maybe if the Cool-Sculpting works, I can give it a shot down the track….) Here’s some of our favourites from the day.
I asked Carmel whether the dramatic rise in internet shopping had affected business. ‘It has affected the industry for daywear, but as far as we’re concerned, the George label stands strongly in the community and we do have brand followers. Especially from bridesmaids who want to try the dresses on. We’ve heard lots of horror stories about people buying off the internet! This is event shopping. They need to feel they’ve got the right garment and it looks fabulous on them.’
‘Plus George has a great website which is used a lot. Girls can pick a dress, using size, colour and measurements. Then they give us a call and as an agent, we can guide them in the direction of which stores stock that particular style.’
Caval also represents interstate labels such as Matthew Eager, Wayne Cooper and Banana Blue which it sells to clients mostly from Victoria and Tasmania. ‘We’re not just employed by the manufacturer,’ said Carmel. ‘We’re an agent so it’s in our best interests to look after clients and give them the best service possible. We also guide them in terms of what is selling well here, which is different to other states.’
So I guess we sell more black in Melbourne, I ask? ‘Overall we do,’ says Carmel, smiling, ‘but we are moving more towards colour. Particularly this season. Especially with evening wear, people are really wanting colour like oranges, emerald greens and cobalt blues. They’re really focusing on that – to make a statement.’
But as we chatted, our conversation veered down a more serious path as we started discussing the demise of our favourite Melbourne shoppings trips. You know, Bridge Road in Richmond, Toorak Road in South Yarra and pretty much any local retail street where more shops seem to be flashing a CLOSED sign, rather than open.
‘We really want people to support our retailers. Because if they don’t , the local strip shops and local designers will go out of business. People really need to reassess and look at what they’re buying. We’ve lost a lot of accounts. So many shops have closed with owners saying it’s all too hard. The business is just not out there.’
‘It’s really sad,’ lamented Carmel. ‘What’s going to happen to the days when we could have a shopping trip with our girlfriends and make a day of it? You won’t be able to do it for much longer.’
What better excuse do you need to get a group of friends together and plan a shopping day? Get to it guys – let’s save our local retailers and designers from extinction!
(For more information, contact Caval Fashion Agency on 0401 502 356 )