Fashion

Inside Melbourne’s Underground Runways With Stylist Ella Murphy

By Sophie Hodges - 29 Aug 2018


Music and fashion have gone hand-in-velvet-gloved hand for generations. It's rare to see a fashion trend that doesn't tie back to music somehow. (Remember when we thought those Kayne circa 2007 shutter sunglasses were cool?)

This season? It's all about underground edge and designer sportswear. 

Exhibit A: the two Underground Runways at this year's Melbourne Fashion Week. They're set to showcase some of the city’s most innovative designers—both established and emerging talent. Looking at the designer list, it’s no big surprise they’re both already sold out (bummer, right?)

Styling one of the events if Ella Murphy (Kirsty Barros is handling the other), and oh man does she have an impressive resume: Vogue, Oyster Magazine, designers like Alice McCall and Camilla & Marc, the works. She's worked for years in the industry as a stylist, designer and creative director (the classic triple threat).

Ella wants these runways to represent Australia's take on an international trend (check out her feed for some sweet inspo). “It's a very directional concept this year," she says. "I'm super excited to pass on my international knowledge of trends and educate the Australian consumer."

We’re all aware of the ‘sports-luxe’ trend: twenty-something people wearing $120 activewear tights to brunch, pairing them with Adidas superstar's (which we all know you can’t actually use for exercise) and their oversized Celine sunglasses.

But what started as a trivial inner city brunch thing has morphed into a global trend that'll feature heavily in MFW 2018. 

Ella says the sportswear lens is about to be given a serious twist. So what the hell does that mean? Think oversized wide leg trousers with cowboy boots, socks and sandals and ‘Ugly Dad Sneakers’. "All the things that seemed obscure when they first hit our market but have now been welcomed with open arms," Ella says.)

The key takeaway: socks and sandals might be cool now. Hells yeah. 

In Underground Runways, Ella looked for a common theme inspiring the majority of the brands (styling an entire runway with multiple designers is no easy feat). So what did she land on exactly? “The connection revolves around the cultural appropriation of digital media and the effect it has on society's needs,” she says.

Ella explored the idea that (generally) society has become lazy (chill out—I know you love your phone, Ubereats and Netflix). “Our life revolves around sitting on around and not moving far to do anything," she says. "This leads to the desire for more comfortable fashion”.

And bingo, we have the sports luxe trend, which is well and truly monopolizing the market. Ella says it'll be extremely prominent in Underground Runways. 

Ella has drawn on some other pretty hyped references for the shows. Specifically the London Underground Trend, which as we know has been emerging in the Global Fashion Scene for a while. 

“The Underground Punk Rock London reference has its heritage in the Malcolm Mcclaren and Vivienne Westwood partnership," Ella says. "It’s had a resurgence in London at the moment. An intersection between music and fashion”.

If you need a reference point, Ella says to check out, Sex, the Sex Pistols shop on the Kings Road, London. 

We all known Melbourne has a pretty sweet underground music scene, and the synergy between music and fashion here is fairly legit.

Campbell Arcade in the Degraves Underpass will host the two Underground Runways this year. It's a location that helped Ella harness that emerging Punk Rock London Street Style trend.

Turns out, having the runway underground was crucial to the creative direction of the show. "This trend will be very new to the Australian Market, as it's only just popping up in the UK. So without the underground space, it might have been a bit too directional for the Australian consumer”. 

Styling a space like Campbell Arcade isn’t without challenges. But for Ella, creating an immersive and experiential runway is something she thrives on.

“I love to activate the senses and immerse people in a branded universe. This is more important than ever when we consider the digital age”.

And that, folks, is the essence of this year's Underground Runways: innovation, diversity and a vibe that is distinctly Melburnian. Bring it on. 

Tickets for Underground Runways might be sold out, but you can follow the collections on Ella's feed, and the Melbourne Fashion Week Instagram page

Image credit: Cybele Malinowski

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