sass & bide launch at Myer

For a good part of the year the focus on Australian label sass & bide has been on anything but their clothing; instead speculation on their business strategies took precedence over the brand’s creative direction. The ongoing cold war between Australia’s biggest department chain stores moved on to a new level when sass & bide decided to effectively swap teams, severing an exclusive contract with retailer David Jones in favour of one with competitor Myer. But the sole business focus changed this week as Myer celebrated the arrival of their brand new baby – they’ not only now stock Sass & Bide but also own a controlling share – in its territory by hosting a star-studded affair in their central Sydney store.

But has anything now changed for Sass & Bide? And, more importantly, what’s their Australian spring / summer 2011 collection actually like?

Find out after the break.

jennifer hawkins sass bide

Click the thumbnails for full pictures:
sass & bide at Myer Sydney: July 2011
sass & bide at Myer Sydney: July 2011
sass & bide at Myer Sydney: July 2011
sass & bide at Myer Sydney: July 2011
sass & bide at Myer Sydney: July 2011

All it took was French champagne, Mediterranean canapes, vividly hued clothes and trusty customers to glisten up, albeit temporarily, Australia’s waning retail conditions.

The red carpet was set out, racks of exquisite clothes smiled at the 150 guests and sass & bide designers Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke looked pumped for a sparkling new start. Loyally conducting her muse duties, supermodel and Myer ambassador Jennifer Hawkins dazzled the crowd in her coral, white and golden Sass & Bide ensemble, and welcomed a new member to Myer’s stables.

If the new collection’s pieces and motifs seem familiar, it’s because this coming season’s collection was shown earlier this year at London Fashion Week. It was there that the European-season Sass & Bide autumn 2011 collection was showcased and brought in a splash of energy to the brand’s traditional monochrome-colour palette. This collection, titled Boogie & The Historymaker, is inspired by Europe’s multiculturalism that sees an asymmetric and oversized silhouette set against oft-eclectic patterns.

Each piece has individuality with a tint of cultural aesthetic, especially when you see the hand-painted kaftans and silk ikat wraps. With colours like magenta, tangerine, fluorescent melon, terracotta, plum and mustard, there’s no scope for an outfit to get lost in your wardrobe. It will speak out to you, and yearn for attention.

As for that name, designers Clarke and Middleton didn’t shy away from disclosing a (now former) secret, “The names of all out collections are a result of an inside joke. And also finalised after a few bottles of wine.”

The presentation was not just about the excitement of the new Australian spring / summer 2011 offering, however, but also a marked business moment for Myer as, only a few months ago, they snapped up the exclusive rights to Sass & Bide after buying a 65 per cent stake in the brand for AU$42.25 million. Once exclusive to rival retailer David Jones, this reshuffle was considered a big deal for Australia’s fashion industry. Naturally, at the time many questions were raised about the future direction of the label and what influence their new owners would have upon it. So far the brand’s design aesthetic doesn’t appear to been influenced by the business deal though admittedly the collection on show was designed long before any business decisions were made.

As reported by Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, the brand’s decision to move retailers was solely based on an expansion strategy that wasn’t being met by David Jones. “We ended up partnering with Myer because there was the potential to support the international growth of our business,” Sarah-Jane Clarke said.

You can see more pictures from sass & bide’s Myer launch by clicking on the thumbnails and browsing through the gallery, while all the catwalk pictures of their autumn / fall 2011 collection can be seen at that link.

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