Jordan Gogos does the most. The 27-year-old multi-hyphen bounces around a cluttered room in the Powerhouse Museum’s Ultimo workshop. From overflowing boxes of cut-off denim to sculpted hats in the shape of birds (made from fishing nets salvaged from the ocean), he shows it all with equal enthusiasm.
“What do you do before going to a club? ” he says. “You slap together! You cut off your T-shirt before you go out, you do this thing, say, “That’s pretty cool. I guess what we do: we hit things together.
As we speak, he is two weeks away from his second Australian fashion week show under the label Iordanes Spyridon Gogos, which will take place on May 12.
Her first fashion week outing of 2021 was one of the most notable collections of the season, a mix of papier-mâché, technicolor corsets and witch hats, all made from upcycled and repurposed materials. Gogos has a background in industrial design, but the show was made with a large team of collaborators. Some garments, made during the lockdown-induced free time, took up to 10 weeks to build. It was a pure show act – none of the clothes on display were for sale.
This great experience, however, paid off. Last December, Gogos received studio space at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum as part of a partnership to deliver the museum’s first show, the start of a $500 million redevelopment plan to transform the space Ultimo into a design center.
“I’ve had so many editors say, ‘Nobody’s wearing your stuff and you’re getting all this attention,'” Gogos says. that is happening?'”
This year, Gogos has recruited 56 collaborators, ranging from established international labels to collectives such as Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct in tropical North Queensland, and emerging talents such as Julia Baldini, a local shoemaker who creates 27 pairs of felted shoes made by hand.
This time there will be commerce in the mix: a collaboration with veteran Australian designer Jenny Kee offering more conventional wearables, including jeans, jackets and silk shirts. The public will be able to purchase these garments, but the construction will still include recycled materials, including some remnants from Kee’s Powerhouse Museum’s 2019 exhibit featuring Linda Jackson.
Gogos is just one of many emerging queer Australian designers showcasing this fashion week. Melbourne designer Erik Yvon and Sydney’s Alix Higgins will both present their first standalone shows at the event.
They also credit the pandemic for their current sense of momentum. Higgins, who collaborated with Gogos in 2021, started his label during lockdown (“I was bored and wanted attention and I got it,” he jokes). Yvon has had his label since 2017, but has noticed a surge in interest since the long lockdowns of 2021. “We were all hanging around,” he says. “It was really spooky. My design, everything is bright and bold and colorful… After Covid I feel like people are much more receptive.
While Yvon and Higgins’ labels are more traditional (i.e. commercial) than Gogos’, their designs carry the same sense of exuberance and daring, a queer sensibility that goes beyond beyond genderless design (although all three do too). Where Gogos brings a club kid mentality to his creative ethos, Yvon and Higgins have already found a home in the queer nightlife scenes of Sydney and Melbourne. It’s rare to attend an event like House of Mince, Loose Ends and Athletica in Sydney or clubs like Miscellania or Rainbow House in Melbourne without spotting their creations.
Inspired by her Mauritian heritage, Yvon’s beaded handbags, crocheted sweaters and knitted camo dresses exude the energy of the ‘main character’. When he describes the perfect place to wear his clothes, he imagines Rihanna lying on a boat in the Caribbean. Rather than a “traditional catwalk”, it promises a “celebration”, working with Sydney ballroom figure Jack Huang to provide “a bit more character”. “I just wanna do [the audience] feel happy, because that’s what it’s all about,” he says.
But Yvon acknowledges that there is more at play than a need for happiness in terms of broader trends, noting that amid the bubbly Y2K references there is a harsher, more ‘apocalyptic’ mood. .
“Everyone adopts the destroyed look”, thinks Yvon. “We were confined – so all the [design] students used their own resources, what surrounded them.
A look through the shelves of Sydney boutique Distal Phalanx and Melbourne’s Error 404, boutiques known for stocking cutting-edge emerging designers, illustrates Yvon’s point. From beaded handbags by Yvon, to tie-dye blouses by another Melbourne brand Maroske Peech, to Wackie Ju thongs with a flower on the back, the look isn’t so much a cohesive trend as a demand for DIY attention.
“There is this term, post-lockdown hedonism,” says Anjelica Angwin of Error 404. “There is a real resurgence of club culture, fashion and design here in Melbourne because we can finally go there. to access. I think it comes from a desire to express the fact that we are still alive and active… And in the club scene, in particular, there are a lot of people who embrace their bodies. It’s really beautiful to see.
Higgins’ work literally and figuratively embraces the body with tight nylon shirts and shorts. Her designs feature bold text printed on bright barcode strips, making them easy to spot on a dance floor. With lines of poetry and phrases from Higgins’ diaries — such as “fairy guy” or “baby I’m so scared” — it sounds like a nihilistic meme account made flesh. It’s emotionally indulgent, which is why Higgins was surprised to learn that his clients mostly feel sexy in his clothes. “I think I got myself this crazy girlfriend that no one wants — because I just spouted shitty poetry not just on the internet, but all over a wardrobe. It’s cringe, but it’s liberating.
Higgins describes his upcoming collection as “even more lopsided,” in part because he created the collection of 30 looks mostly alone in his studio.
“I consider my work to be quite romantic and poetic, introspective, like armour,” he says. He doesn’t design for nightclubs, “but I also think all those things belong in a club.”