Pic: Robbie Merritt.
Pic: Robbie Merritt.

Mt Hawthorn has been described to me as “the Claremont of the inner suburbs.” It’s brimming with counterpart alleyways, well-aged brick homes, and a glass-and-steel shopping quarter (the Mezz, complete with pasta “artisans” and a damn trendy playground). A step away from Oxford St (which, like most inner-city suburbs, treads a thin line between its reputations as hipster hub and “seedy Leedy”), Mt Hawths is a little haven of fine spirits, the chummy but dignified Paddington Hotel, and boutiques catering for a more professionally-minded crowd than its Gen Y equivalents down the road.

It’s also home to The Pirate Bar, which whittles down its nautical trappings to their most minimal. There’s a ship-shaped chandelier, portholes, and plenty of rich wood, boutique beers, and open space. The Pirate Bar’s a favourite of a rising Perth fashion team fronted by Melanie Pool, whose Australian Fashionistas project seeks to identify, develop, and provide platforms for the hidden fashion gems in Perth’s suburbs. They held their model auditions here, and have also locked in a Melbourne Cup luncheon for November 4.

Saturday, October 11’s luncheon is the first major event for the Fashionistas and it’s serving as the mould for future events. The focus is on unremitting, A-lister glamour – no post-ironic hipsterwear here, ladies and gents – within a Mt Hawthorn context. Patti Chong, firebrand lawyer who can rock a Breakfast At Tiffany’s photoshoot in The Sunday Times, is here, as are journalists Mark Reid and Katerina Deric, fashion publicist Shane Pavlinovich, and designer Terence Borgioli greeting at the door. Simone Heng, Mix 94.5‘s Bright Young Thing, MCs in front of the Fashionistas’ snakeskin-print backdrop. It’s all very Perth Establishment, and it knows it – Heng makes cracks about networking and baby-planning, well-received but a little disarming for this student share house attendee.

The main fashion show runs alongside Moët and a delicious lamb luncheon. (A particularly chilled-out Pirate Bar staff member called Sierra insists I eat with my hands. I don’t.) It plays a double role – not only are many of the Fashionistas’ guests getting to know Mt Hawths brands for the first time, they’re meeting the new faces of the Fashionistas.

Prominently featured are Jerico, a boutique specialising in mens’ wear. Jerico stocks Perth label Pure Blakk, whose starkly-collared slimline dress shirts complement sophisticated cuts with denims and faux-macho prints. The two male models sporting them – one who can, and will, jiggle his pecs every opportunity – received a very warm welcome from various tables every time.

Alla Moda Chanelle (explicitly angling for chic mums, and their equally chic daughters hanging on those mums’ wallets) and Torso dresses were staples of their show – bold cuts and colours, clearly geared towards Ascott and summer cocktail Sunday sessions. Particularly stunning inclusions were Alla Moda’s orange and white splice maxi, flitting between cocktail dress, evening gown, and jockey’s colours, followed by an incredible glittery brocade dress, hinting at bubble skirt.

Bra Bar and kids’ chains Lollipop Couture and Little Posh were also on display. As someone devoted to grimy shorts and deeply intimidated by Pumpkin Patch as a child, I’m not sure I could’ve handled the latter two. Clearly, the mini models sporting them absolutely adored them.

Toggs, a swimwear line from Queensland, had a few bathers in the mix. In the porthole light of Pirate Bar, the aquamarines and monochromes screamed Palm Springs pool party.

Wide-brimmed hats from Soletta confirmed the Melbourne Cup vibe, which Australian Fashionistas are bound to excel at. If plating up, champagne cocktails and haute couture are your thing, it’s worth checking out the event at