To be handed the opening slot of a fashion week for your first-ever solo runway show represents a powerful vote of confidence. This morning in Sydney the powers that be behind Australia Fashion Week placed that faith in Lesleigh Jermanus, electing to schedule her brand Alémais straight after the Welcome to Country opening ceremony.
Jermanus, once a backstage intern at this very event and more recently an alum of Zimmermann, launched her brand in 2020. Its puff-sleeved maxi dresses, floaty midis, and other summer silhouettes are drawn straight from the boho canon; attractively patterned and compellingly affordable—Alémais also professes an emphasis on sustainability—these have rapidly and deservedly generated both an enthusiastic fan base and impressive clout at wholesale.
Speaking backstage with her toddler son, Bowie, slung wide-eyed on her hip, Jermanus said that this collection sprang from repeated watching of 1985’s unacclaimed sequel Return To Oz. As well as loving the movie for its opulence, she said: “I started thinking about everyone’s yellow brick road, all the different references and all the different people and places we meet on the way.” This purposefully loose conceit gave the designer free reign to roam in a potpourri lineup that spanned multiple time periods and included pattern collabs with three artists: Jedda Daisy Culley, Meagan Boyd, and Yvan Guillo.
Smocked prairie dresses, corseted maxis, dresses with accordion-fold leg of mutton arms, shift minis (one in white diamond-check cut-out bio-leather), ditsy shorts and a romper, oversized tailoring, shirts and palazzo pants (one set made of Sicilian orange pulp viscose), a frill-shoulder dress with fringed hem and etched flowers, caftan dresses, and strapless bodice evening gowns were amongst the wide-ranging offering that emerged on the often frustratingly unlit runway. The patterns, whether in print or embroidery, were just as various thanks to that collaborative chorus. According to seasoned Alémais-watchers, the tailoring and eveningwear were new to the brand. Maximalist in almost every regard, this time-traveling bohemian broadside—fleshed out with plenty of woo-woo symbology and so forth—proved catnip to the adoring and unashamedly partisan audience: Alémais was called upon, and duly delivered. For a first show, this appeared intriguingly like a cosmically ordered, supremely-confident, and perhaps slightly overlong future greatest hits album.