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What went down at Australia’s answer to the Met ball

A gala event that pulled out all the stops to celebrate Australia’s fashion industry.

By Emma Breheny
Guests under the Museum of the Moon artwork

A gala event that pulled out all the stops to celebrate Australia's fashion industry.

Award season has well and truly started, but in Sydney last night A-listers, models, fashion designers and philanthropists gathered for a different black-tie affair: the inaugural Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Ball. The event, billed as Australia's answer to The Met Gala in New York, was a grand gala dinner celebrating Australia's fashion industry.

A bird's-eye view of the Turbine Hall

The theme of the night, held at the Powerhouse Museum, was art and light. Celebrated party planner Tony Assness transformed the museum into a sleek black-and-white backdrop for the evening's glittering finery, both on and off the red carpet. MAAS opened up its 30,000-piece archive to showcase key moments of Australian fashion history, including Jenny Kee's koala jumper, worn by Princess Diana to a polo match in 1982. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was there in a black floor-length Rachel Gilbert gown, Australian designers including Collette Dinnigan, Linda Jackson and Simone Zimmermann posed for photos on the red carpet and men donned white dinner jackets fit for award season. The black-clothed tables, meanwhile, were decked out with magnolia settings made of plaster and resin by Assness.

Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram

"Tonight is a celebration of the designers, their creativity, their commitment and their future," said Dolla Merrillees, director of MAAS.

Merivale duo John Wilson and Danielle Alvarez, of Paddington restaurant Fred's, were behind the food. Guests began with canapés, Moët & Chandon and Grey Goose cocktails while browsing the museum's collection, followed by a grand dinner in the Turbine Hall under a glowing moon. To coincide with the evening's super blue blood moon, artist Luke Jerram's work Museum of the Moon, a seven-metre sphere onto which NASA images of the moon were projected, was unveiled for the first time in the southern hemisphere.

The magnolia table settings

Wilson and Alvarez opted for a classic menu that recalled the glamour of yesteryear. A Niçoise salad of green and yellow beans, shaved cucumber and soft-boiled egg was followed by grilled Cape Grim sirloin topped with a round of Café de Paris butter and paired with Martinis (given extra oomph with Tabasco oil) and Bird In Hand wines. Coupes of espresso gelato brought dinner to a close but signalled the start of the night for many, with guests hitting the dance floor when The Presets started to perform.

Niçoise salad

It wasn't all air-kisses and Champagne, though. The event was also a fundraiser for the Australian Fashion Fund, which supports local designers through programs that link them with international names. The fund also acquires garments for its collection that spans three centuries of Australian history.

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  • Author: Emma Breheny