October 2011

Arts & Letters

Fashion masterpiece

By Clare Press
Romance was born - ‘The Oracle’, 2011

‘The Oracle’, the fifth major show by two Sydney-based iconoclasts, initially had Australian Vogue decrying the absence of the “madcap prop styling, the fireworks, the pizzazz” for which the designers, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, have become known. (Their first show opened with dancing ‘God’ in a bikini and closed with a pantomime goat sacrifice and the designers emerging from teepees.)

But although the twenty-eighth exit was a ‘bride’ of cascading crocheted wool ‘feathers’ inspired by The Neverending Story’s luck-dragon Falkor, it was clear ‘The Oracle’ marked a pivotal moment in the story of this truly original outfit. Bride aside, the art had finally turned wearable beyond the theatrical costumes shown by the label in seasons past.

The show, accompanied by the rousing voices of the Australian Youth Choir, melded influences from Erté’s illustration, Art Deco jewellery design and modern painting with the designers’ signature heavy embellishment firmly rooted in craft (Sales’s mother crochets the showpieces). All this was tied together by the visceral, graffiti-like sprawl of artist Nell’s prints and punkish handpainted silks. Somehow these disparate influences came together to make the most eloquent statement about what fashion – by way of expression, adornment, role-play and fantasy – can do for the wearer.

—Clare Press

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

Climate sums fail

Our debate looks only at one side of the ledger

Image from ‘Eat the Problem’

Can ‘Eat the Problem’ solve the problem?

Mona’s new project explores our fraught ethics of consumption

Image of ‘Islands’ by Peggy Frew

‘Islands’ by Peggy Frew

The bestselling author delivers a nuanced examination of family tragedy

Image from ‘Janet Laurence: After Nature’

‘Janet Laurence: After Nature’ at the MCA

This survey offers a root and branch study of the natural world’s fragility


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


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David Malouf’s new worlds

Consciousness is at the heart of the celebrated author’s body of work

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Songs distilled from the quiet expanses of high art and black culture

Haruki to Highsmith: Lee Chang-dong’s ‘Burning’

Mr Ripley echoes through a masterful tale of class tensions in Seoul


More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006


Read on

Image from ‘Eat the Problem’

Can ‘Eat the Problem’ solve the problem?

Mona’s new project explores our fraught ethics of consumption

Image from ‘Janet Laurence: After Nature’

‘Janet Laurence: After Nature’ at the MCA

This survey offers a root and branch study of the natural world’s fragility

Image of Scott Morrison and Michaelia Cash

Scott Morrison’s short-sighted defence of cars with grunt

Our leader remains in Luddite denial about electric vehicles

Image from ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’

Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’

The contrary director’s 30-year quest comes to a suitably ludicrous end


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