The Antipodean designers have always celebrated excess, but their Resort ‘17 collection, 'Whispering Angel,' might be their most excessive yet. And p.s., that's a good thing.



Romance Was Born On their Liberace- and Rosé-Inspired Collection

Like many of the best ideas in fashion, it started as a “bit of a LOL.” Romance Was Born designers Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales were introduced to a French rosé with an angelic label on the bottle, reading Whispering Angel. And with that, they’d found the name of their next collection. Unlike the dry rosé, however, their Resort ‘17 offering goes way beyond sweet packaging, revealing something much more dreamy.

The Antipodean designers have always celebrated excess, but their Resort ‘17 collection, which is, in their words, an “ode to Liberace”—complete with references to celebrity showmanship, disco, the Rococo period, and the afterlife—could be their most excessively “them” move to date.

Between ‘70s lines, ‘80s accoutrements, and ‘90s Fiorelli-esque motifs, it hits all the right trend notes. But it does so amongst an assortment of graphic prints and embellishments so wildly romantic (in the most camp sense of the word) that the result is a heavenly mixture of “crazy” fit for the iconic, post-Elvis legends of music—may they rest in peace. Liberace said it best: “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”

(L) Dress by Romance Was Born. (R) Dress and gloves by Romance Was Born, earrings by Punjaban Diva, sunglasses by Abe and Sara.

The designers’ obsession with the deceased artist only grew stronger after a visit to the Las Vegas-based Liberace foundation, where they were treated to a tour of his costumes and memorabilia. Describing her fascination with the artist credited for discovering Barbara Streisand, Plunkett said, “I think it’s the mix of flamboyance and storytelling through the characters of the costumes; he was such a true original. There’s so many untold stories that people have no idea about, which are so crazy and fascinating. Like all the rings he wears; because he plays so fast, he wanted his fingers to stand out on TV under the studio lights.” She continued, “That’s how Michael Jackson came about wearing white socks too, so you could see how quick his feet moved.”


(L) Jacket, pants, and belt by Romance Was Born, earrings by Punjaban Diva, necklaces by Harlequin Market. (R) Earrings by Punjaban Diva, sunglasses by Abe and Sara.

From onstage personas to estate interiors, both the public and the private aspects of the “celebrity” are honored in the collection. The pair was, after all, inspired as much by Liberace’s outer world as they were by the man himself. His mother. His sister. The “disco angels” he surrounded himself with. They’re the embodiment of the essence of “Whispering Angel.” Plunkett and Sales would listen to 1985’s “There Must Be An Angel” by The Eurythmics while they worked on the collection, likely daydreaming of rhinestone-encrusted, celestial muses layered in exotic bird feathers and leaning on a grand piano, cradling a cocktail.

That was certainly the vision that the pair seemed to present at the runway debut of the collection. “The girls were modern-day Botticelli babes. Disco angels, defiantly fabulous and wealthy,” said Plunkett. And it showed. Floating through a Sydney mansion, the show’s models wore big, passionate curls with glittering pastel eye shadow.

(L) Dress by Romance was Born, earrings by Harlequin Market, bangles (resin) by Dinosaur Designs, bangles (crystal) by Harlequin Market. (R) Coat by Romance was Born, hat by Helen Kaminski for Romance was Born, earrings by Harlequin Market.

“The styling thing is something that we really get into and drives us creatively,” Plunkett said, alluding to what many already know: that Romance Was Born has put on some of the most spectacular runway shows of all time. The soundtrack for this show consisted of a series of covers: Anohni‘s version of Beyoncé‘s “Crazy in Love,” Bat For Lashes covering Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” and most movingly, Grimes’ cover of “Ave Maria,” of which Plunkett said, “We heard her sing this live last time she performed in Sydney and it seriously made everyone stop. A very angelic moment.” Yes it was.

(L) Dress by Romance was born (at left), jacket by Romance was Born (at right), and hat by Helen Kaminski for Romance was Born (at right). (R) Top by Romance was Born, bra by Pleasure State, sunglasses by Abe and Sara.

Each season, the design duo works with new graphic talent to realize their often-lofty print dreams. Of the collaborative process that went into this collection, Plunkett said, “We worked with Liv and Maya from Ultra Violet who are The Royal College of the Arts alumni. They really understood the whole decorative vibe and were interested in incorporating a lot of textural references of the Rocco era.”

What resulted was a collection defined by four distinct parts: Exotic Bird, Rococo Cupid, King Neptune, and Mr. Showmanship. It’s a medley of color that’s as Liberace as it is part-Anna Piaggi, part-Bowie, and all wildly imaginative.

A suitable tribute to the eternal icons of excessive fashion—long may their legacy reign.

(L) Dress by Romance was Born, earrings by Punjaban Diva, bangles (resin) by Dinosaur Designs, bangles (crystal) by Harlequin Market. (R) Dress by Romance was Born, shoes by Beau Coops for Romance was Born.

All images taken exclusively for Milk by Byron Spencer

Photo Assistants: Hayley Brown and Brigette Clark

Styling: Peter Simon Phillips at Company1

Styling Assistant: Ryan Cullen

Hair: Pete Lennon at Company1, using R+Co (with thanks to Cain Ireland)

Makeup: Nicole Thompson at UNION MANAGEMENT 

Makeup Assistant: Monique Jones 

Models: Evelina Milward (Priscillas), Mary (Chadwicks), Niina (IMG). 

Stay tuned to Milk for more of our favorite Australian creatives. 

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