Bright color in times of war. Anna Antal’s Remarkable AAFW Collection
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: When creating her first collection for Australia’s Afterpay Fashion Week 2022, the biggest challenge designer Michelle Tucker faced was moral. Her year-old brand, Anna Antal, is named after her beloved designer grandmother, born in Hungary in 1922 – a rebellious era when designers began to counter the constraining fashions of stiffened crinolines, under structures and corsetry. But for Hungarian women, this new sense of freedom and movement was compromised a few years later.
“When Russia invaded Hungary in 1956, my grandmother was badly affected by the atrocities of war,” Tucker tells GRAZIA, citing that Antal fled his war-torn homeland and opened a shop in Melbourne, Australia, in 1960.
“When war broke out in Ukraine recently, I didn’t know if it was appropriate to present a collection that encouraged feelings of optimism and celebration,” Tucker continues. “But after careful thought and reflection, I realized that the war had already taken so much from my grandmother and her family and that I was not going to allow it to take away this opportunity.”
And that she didn’t. One of the standout collections of this AAFW season, Tucker (who previously worked in sales at an investment bank and is a mother of four) invited reporters into an immersive living room-style space on Friday morning. An untamed palette of acid bright colors in tangerines, moss greens and ruby pinks threaded through the room; a kaleidoscope of casual patterns that intersect before dissipating into uniquely cut evening gowns, lavish suits and trouser and top combos worthy of an international glamorous soiree.
Interestingly, Tucker’s inspiration was the guest rooms of the Riad El Fenn hotel in Marrakech, “a hidden gem in one of the most dynamic and exotic cities in the world”, she says.
“To live Marrakech well, you have to immerse yourself in the color, the dynamism and the artisanal heritage of the city”, she continues. “Rich and welcoming, each room at Riad El Fenn does just that! Uniquely decorated in bright jewel tones and filled with contemporary artwork and colorful, eclectic curiosities, no two rooms are the same. I imagined each piece of the Resort 2023 collection as its own uniquely decorated guest room at Riad Anna Antal.
We imagine that such a place would be very elegant. Tucker gave me a Anna Antal’s piece wear to the show and during my rushed morning I was struck for a minute not just by how the garment felt (soft and hip-skimming) but how it made me feel wearing it (striking, powerful, confident.) Every room I walked into that day — and there were eight of them — many people commented on the unique pattern and style.
“We all have a more confident, secure version of us lurking somewhere and now is the time to release and embrace unlimited possibilities,” says Tucker. “Anna Antal was officially launched in October 2021. Launching the brand during a global pandemic took a lot of courage, but I truly believed people needed hope. My pieces allow people to dream of a life outside of a global pandemic. I wanted the collection to give them permission to dream of a life that would be wonderful again.
She’s right. What a wonderful thought it is to dress up and have a place to go. Well done, Michele.