A table at the Sydney's elite MAAS Ball will set you back $11k

If you've a spare $11k sitting in the bank account, you might consider investing that in a table at one of the most luxurious events of the year.

On February 1, Sydney's Powerhouse Museum will host the inaugural Museum of Applied Arts and Science (MAAS) Centre for Fashion Ball.

The glitzy social event is expected to generate the kind of red carpet fanfare usually spotted on celebrity Instagram feeds, sitting comfortably alongside New York's Met Gala and Paris Fashion Week.

The Powerhouse is teaming up with luxury retailers Mr Porter and Net-A-Porter, with food curated by Danielle Alvarez (of hotspot Fred's, in Paddington) and endless rounds of Moet & Chandon, Grey Goose Vodka and wine by Bird in Hand.

But beneath the glamour, there's a deeper reason why this event is so important. The MAAS Ball will be raising money for the Australian Fashion Fund, a Centre for Fashion initiative dedicated to procuring Australian fashion to strengthen the Museum's collection for future generations. But it also reaffirms the strength of the local fashion and design industry on a global scale.

A tale of too much choice

Australia's fashion industry is sitting at an interesting crossroads. 

While many middle-of-the-road retailers are suffering an identity crisis amidst the onslaught of more affordable, global brands, many of the niche high-end labels are garnering international interest.

And contrary to popular opinion, it's the online shopping experience that could be the saviour of local designers.

Last year's commercial carnage saw stalwart brands such as Herringbone, Rhodes & Beckett and Marcs all shut the doors to many of the stores. And the blame was partly put at the feet of online shopping's easier, faster, often cheaper, model.


But this model also works both ways, and thanks to platforms like Mr Porter, local designers can quickly can find themselves the recipient of international attention.

Clicks with clout

As Mr Porter's Style Director, Olie Arnold is invested in making sure that the luxury retailer remains the world's leading tastemaker. And this means curating the site so that it stocks the world's best designers and brands – of which a growing number are increasingly found in Australia.

"[We are] committed to supporting and nurturing talent globally, and Australia is an important territory for us," explains Arnold, who has arrived in Sydney to co-host the Ball.

So far, the website has picked up a ready-to-wear collection by Sydney-based tailoring studio P. Johnson, Melbourne skincare line Aesop, and supplement line Bear Journal.

Fellow locals P.E. Nation, luxe streetwear label Bassike, and The Upside are also some of the hottest sellers on sister-site Net-A-Porter.

Change in fortune

Could 2018 see a change of fortune in the local industry then? MAAS Director and CEO Dolla Merrillees thinks so.

"Fashion in Australia has never been so visible and applauded," says Merrillees.

"We are taking this opportunity to consider the role of the Centre for Fashion in producing and preserving Australian fashion for generations to come."

"The MAAS Ball appeal is twofold," says Arnold. "It's not only an unmissable event on the Australian fashion calendar, but also gives back to our industry and supports our global fashion community."