Backstage on Tuesday night, Michael Lo Sordo was beaming. He had that post-show glow. The kind that’s only achieved through a mix of relief, adrenaline and gratuity. He is busy thanking everyone when I’m ushered in to interview him. The makeup artists, the stylists, the assistants, the PR managers. “You’re getting me in my emotional state.” he says to me. He’s a proud dad to this team, it’s clear. And to his brand new collection.
The setting tonight is not a normal runway (an option becoming increasingly popular with designers), instead the location is Reign, a swanky new Champagne brasserie within the historical walls of Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building. There is nothing gritty or urban or underground about tonight, this is classic fashion sophisticate. A Parisian rendezvous with the king of Australian minimalist glamour. Upon arrival, the mode is monochromatic. A sea of black-and-white-dressed notables fills the art-deco space as we’re seated along the marble walls of each room. The clinking of Champagne glasses chimes over the exuberant chatter of attendees as the show begins.
Lo Sordo began his career after a successful graduate collection in Sydney in 2006. He has dressed just about every fashionable Australian celebrity and is a staple for the red carpet. Not to mention the time, in January last year, when Margot Robbie requested to wear one of his gowns to the Australian premiere of her film I, Tonya. “That was a dream and a half, oh my Lord.” says Lo Sordo. “You know what, her and her team were the loveliest people I’ve ever met. So it became not just about the clothes, but about the relationship. She wanted to wear an Australian designer to that premiere and, thankfully, chose me. I wanted to give her something that encapsulated her as a person. A lot of the time [celebrities] reach out to us, which is amazing, and I’m shocked! I’m like, why little old me!?”
The narrative for Lo Sordo’s vision tonight circles Paris cinq á sept. The colloquial french phrase that refers to the chic, intoxicating hours between 5pm and 7pm. When light is low, drinks are poured and you’re feeling freshly sun-kissed after a day spent, perhaps, walking the streets of the Côte d’Azur. A little different to post-beach beers in Australia, this image is gallantly haute. In this life you’re staying at the famous Carlton Hotel in Cannes. You’re invited for an evening of caviar and aperitifs in the marble-laid terrace. You dine on gastronomical delights. You order the lobster, and the Dom Perrignon, and the Grand Marnier soufflé. But, most importantly, you wear The Dress. Or so goes my favourite film Hors De Prix with Audrey Tatou. The one I was immediately reminded of as Lo Sordo’s show began…and inspired to watch (again) as soon as I got home.
As we’ve come to expect from a Lo Sordo collection, a sophisticated yet tangible fluidity reined throughout. Sensual pieces draped by satins, silks, velvets and even feathers crafted a complete wardrobe for any impossibly chic woman who basks in the value of after-five ensembles. On the show-stopping front, of which he is renowned, the pieces we dream we’ll one day need to buy, came via low-low-front velvet gowns, column dresses finished by refined crystal borders, silk slips with draped backs and long sleeves, and flirty minis that hosted uninterrupted feather finishes. “It was my first time working with feathers! Oh my Lord! It was fun, there’s always one thing I do that manipulates the fabric, so I thought I would step up with it. I really wanted to pump up the glamour and so that’s when we felt ostrich feathers were the answer.”
But particularly exciting were the slightly oversized, pleated silk trousers that he paired with matching blouses, sheer shirts and sleek blazers. Trousers of their kind (long-line, so they trail the floor and slouched for extra relaxed-factor) are becoming one of the key pieces for the coming season. And it’s easy to see why, a garment welcomed by the sophisticated establishment that also invites a comfortable utility makes for a solid fashion marriage.
So does he have a favourite piece? His shakes his head fervently “Everything. I never [have a favourite]. I just can’t.” He’s so passionate about the garments I ask if he’d ever start menswear? “I’ve actually started making some for myself, so maybe down the track, yes.” It’s reaffirming to speak with an Australian designer who romances the future of fashion. Lo Sordo doesn’t seem jaded or affected by the woes of the global fashion trade, in fact it’s clear his passion for where his label can go is only just beginning. “We’ve been showing in Paris now for seven seasons, which has really opened my eyes and given me a wider audience. It’s really allowed me to learn about the industry and how the global market works. It’s so exciting and inspiring for me.”
Tonight’s resort 2020 forged a mood. The theatre of the location, the atmosphere and the collection were all as intoxicating as the Champagne itself. Lo Sordo wants women who wear these pieces to feel the fresh sophistication he has imagined. His muse is glamour but without the stitch-up. No heels here and no costume jewellery. Minimal make-up and sleek, straight, wet hair. A fuss-free decadence. “I’m a fan of refined beauty. Capturing that moment when you just feel it. I wanted the clothes to embody that. Our clothes are never tricky or too over-styled or overworked. We just want them to feel amazing. We work with a lot of natural fibres. It creates a timelessness so our pieces also have that longevity.”
As Lo Sordo says, there is such a sexiness in comfort. “You can’t walk around Positano in heels. You have to be in flats to walk those hills! There’s nothing worse than an outfit that looks uncomfortable.” Struggling in a heel, or feeling frustrated by too much accoutrement detracts from what truly makes something or someone chic: fundamental effortlessness. And, as ironic as it might be when you see the extraordinary amount of effort that has gone into this collection, effortlessness is exactly what has been achieved.
Michael Lo Sordo Resort 2020