Late and with 'sexy' dancers: the most controversial show of Fashion Week

Designer Justin Cassin wanted to fuse fashion with music for his third show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. But the spectacle has left many in the industry accusing the LA-based Australian of being tone deaf after a series of gaffes at the event.

After a day with several highlights, including Lee Mathews' 20th-anniversary show, Double Rainbouu's presentation at the iconic Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour and Michael Azzolini's high-energy, high-camp boardshort debut, the Justin Cassin show had promised to be bigger than Ben Hur.

But influencers, media and buyers were left angry, frustrated and outraged.

There were dancing girls dressed in tight and revealing outfits, leading many to comment that such a performance was "not very 2019", while the seating plan meant most media and VIPs were so far away from the runway-cum-stage they could not see the clothes.

But some people at least appeared to enjoy themselves. Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models and IMG Fashion Properties, which runs Fashion Week, was there, posting photos to his Instagram.

Mr Bart said on Thursday: "IMG supports designers in expressing their creative vision in unique and varied show formats, both on and off site.

"Once a show is taken off site, front-of-house management and event production is controlled by the designer and their team.

"We recognise designers may wish to integrate consumer and trade; Justin Cassin’s show highlighted this model."

A representative for Justin Cassin said the brand was taking all feedback on board and acknowledged there were some seating issues on the night. She also acknowledged that, while the objective of the show was to make fashion week more inclusive, some aspects of the show had possibly misfired.

"[Justin] wanted to give everyone … an experience," she said, adding that given some people travelled far to get to the show they deserved more than a 10-minute fashion show.

She said Cassin opened the show to design and fashion students who are often excluded from events such as Fashion Week.

Cassin made his Fashion Week debut in 2017, when he worked with publicist Roxy Jacenko to promote his show, which featured Australian "it" male model Jordan Barrett.

Among those venting their opinions on Instagram last night were Australian retail buyers, including one stockist of Justin Cassin, as well as other designers.

Rachael D'Alessandro, of denim brand One Teaspoon, penned a scathing assessment of the event on her Instagram stories.

"The whole thing has devalued what your message is actually about," D'Alessandro wrote. "It's clothes. It's fashion. It's not a nightclub. I'm confused."

Another influential buyer said such a show can radically impact how a brand is perceived by its stockists and the public.

Other media and industry members left before the start of the show, which was running about an hour behind its scheduled start time of 6pm, partly due to peak hour traffic. The 45-minute warm-up show meant the models didn't appear on the runway until after 7.30pm.

Earlier in the week, many shows were running about an hour behind schedule as models from one show had to quickly be re-styled for the next show, causing a knock-on effect. By Wednesday, most shows were running relatively on time until the evening session.

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Fashion week continues on Thursday with Ten Pieces showing at Bondi Beach and Carla Zampatti closing out the industry portion of the schedule with a show featuring the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

The reporter travelled as a guest of IMG.

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