We know that putting together a runway show takes a village. From the casting directors to stylists, hair and makeup to lighting technicians, many hands are needed for those fleeting 20 minutes. Music is a crucial part of the storytelling, and more often than not it's responsible for setting the emotional tone of a collection. Sound gives the clothes context; it guides the audience on how they should feel.
Runway music should act like salt, enhancing the sweet points and counterbalancing the bitter ones. At AAFW 2023, sound was the unsung hero.
I won't be the first to say that Carriageworks can feel like a circus in the middle of Australian Fashion Week. This was particularly true this year. As the fashion industry contemplates the role of social media in all of this, the push for viral content – street style, celebrity sightings, off-kilter moments – spilled out into this year's physical festivities. Walking into the main precinct was fun and chaotic, comical and communal. By the time you planted your butt on one of the gallery's bench seats, you'd absorbed the frenetic edge. Then the music would play. Jaws would unclench, shoulders would slacken. The soundtrack flushed all that anxious energy away. Sometimes it would even bring on tears.
At least this is how I felt sitting down to celebrate Michael Lo Sordo's 10th anniversary and getting lost in the live orchestra's rendition of Nothing Compares 2 U. It's what happened while watching Anja Brown frolick her way through the Iordanes Spyridon Gogos set to the theme from Sidney Lumet's Serpico. I got goosebumps when the models at Youkhana appeared for the final time, standing tall and resolute as Lesley Gore's voice asserted You Don't Own Me. All around me, people were wiping their eyes as an instrumental of Dreams by The Cranberries soundtracked the debut show from Ngali.
There were others too. At Verner, the designer approached Sydney musician Buzz Kull to arrange show music, citing the Depeche Mode soundtrack at Prada’s FW2022 presentation as a reference. In the end, Buzz Kull opted for four songs, two from the artist's recent album Fascination, to evoke the feeling of "morning, day, afternoon storm, and night" as requested.
Elsewhere, Alix Higgins enlisted the help of his close friend and Patamon bandmate, Joan Banoit, to develop the music for his show Delectable Earth Shudder, a yearning soundscape entitled River Nessus that complemented the Shakespearean collection. At Haulier, an impeccable selection of songs that danced between Dream Baby Dream by Suicide, A Spectacle by CAN before closing with Lou Reed's Street Hassle. INJURY co-founder Eugene Leung completed a score for the brand's 2023 runway. Meanwhile, AAFW newcomer Wackie Ju ended its Summer Fade runway with Gen Z anthem, Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey.
Experience the sound of AAFW 2023 yourself, through the playlist below.