"We know that we can't just go home on the weekends. We're all homesick, we're all far away from our family. But we have each other, and we take care of each other," offered Australian actress Melissa George at last week's The Australians in New York Fashion Foundation's second annual cocktail party at the Crosby Street Hotel, with all proceeds benefitting the Global Poverty project.
This Aussie mantra of "sticking together" has helped thrust countless actors and models into the international spotlight; however, that road has proved somewhat more challenging for Australian designers, which is why Calvin Klein's Malcolm Carfrae and Julie Anne Quay formed AINYFF. The primary goal of the foundation is to provide -- via scholarships and connections -- opportunities for Australians to work in New York's fashion and beauty industries. The purpose is twofold: Not only do these work experiences open doors for the designers in the U.S., but they also simultaneously raise the profile and increase awareness of the Australian fashion industry.
Things have certainly turned out well for last year's first prize winner Georgia Lazzaro, who dressed George in a sleek backless jumpsuit for the evening. Lazarro is finishing up her internship with Narcisco Rodriguez, and "absolutely can't wait" to work with Francisco Costa (she moves over to Calvin Klein after fashion week). So is there anything about the Australian fashion sensibility that Lazzaro plans to bring stateside? "Australians are full of optimism, and there is something about the warmth of our culture that gets reflected in our fashion." Actress Sarah Wynter concurs with this sentiment. Dressed in a stunning, full skirted, black Colette Dinnigan dress and Dolce Gabbana shoes ("shhh, don't tell anyone," she jokes), she tells me that Aussie style is all about being "modern, hip, and comfortable in your own skin." Of course, she adds, "the clothes have to do well in warm weather."
Our brutal winters aside -- and clearly far from anyone's mind on this balmy summer evening -- the Aussie spirit appeared to be contagious among the New York scenesters who decamped to Soho for this laid-back Oz-filled fete. As notables the likes of Stefano Tonchi, Nacole Snoep, Zani Gugelmann (in Camilla + Marc), Fabiola Beracasa, and Tara Subkoff (who borrowed an off-white confection from Fabiola's closet) supped on mini "Aussie burgers" and admired the decor of fellow expat Antony Todd, I asked Wynter if the event differed in any way from last year's inaugural celebration. "Last year was [the foundation's] inception. We are more organized this year. Last year we were dealing with a baby; now we are dealing with a toddler." And we all know how quickly toddlers grow up these days.
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