The Australian Wool Fashion Awards receives strong support from both the fashion and textile industries. Judges in the past have included many notable fashion personalities such as Alexander Perry, George Gross, Harry Watt, Deborah Hutton, Joh Bailey, Jonathon Ward, the late Sonia McMahon, Josephine Nathan, Bonny Lythgoe, Faye De Lanty, Peter Everett, Adrian Erdedi and more recently Catriona Rowntree, Akira Isogawa, Jonathan Ward, Sarah-Jane Clark, and Emily Taylor.
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"Australia's Most Travelled Woman”, that's the title earned by Catriona Rowntree after more than 19 years at the helm of Australia's favourite travel show Getaway on Channel Nine. Her television career began after completing a Diploma of Journalism at Macleay College in 1990, followed by stints researching at BRW, various Sydney newsrooms, and beginning an obsession for Community Radio via putting the news to air and hosting an interview show on FM 915(Rhythm and Jazz). In 1992 Catriona auditioned along with 8,000 other hopefuls, for a Reporters job in Wonder World!, making it into the final 5 girls, but was piped at the post. Persistence led to victory when Catriona was taken on as a Researcher in 1993. After much begging, the following year Catriona was allowed to film one story for the show (Putt Putt Golf, where she donned a safari suit and had a ball, literally) and has been employed on-air ever since.
That soon led to hosting What's Up Doc, filmed live on weekends from GTV in Melbourne and after 3 years of sending out resumes to her favourite radio stations, the Community Radio obsession evolved into a paid gig on Triple J radio, hosing the national Weekend Request Show. So began a period of working 7 days a week in 3 states and loving every single second of it. In 1994 Catriona stepped into the Hosts seat on Wonder World!
The hard work paid off and the golden opportunity to roam the globe for Getaway was offered in 1996. Since then Catriona has worked on many other TV projects including the National IQ Test, Funniest Home Videos, Logies Red Carpet Arrivals and The Chopping Block. In 2006, Catriona celebrated her 10 years on Getaway by publishing Catriona's Australia: 100 of ‘My Favourite Aussie locations' through
JDP, which illustrates some amazing locations and hidden wonders throughout Australia. In addition to her TV roles, Catriona has been able to utilise her passion for Community work as the Patron of the Arnotts Foundation, Ambassador for OCRF, Mission Australia, and the Phillip Island Penguins. In 2010, Catriona was delighted to honour her husband’s role as Chairman of the Geelong Landcare Network by becoming an Australian Landcare Ambassador and in 2012 she also became the Ambassador for Year of the Farmer.
Catriona has worked with many brands including Nivea, Sunsense, Goulburn Valley, The Good Guys, Woolworths Baby & Toddler Club, and is the the Brand Ambassador for Pharmacare’s VitaGummies and Restore ranges and touring company Scenic. Catriona has also worked with Bauer (formally ACP) as a Spokesperson for Priceline a sponsor of the 30 Days of Fashion and Beauty 2012 events, and hosting the Australian Geographic Gala events.
Personally, Catriona's life completely changed when marrying Victorian farmer James Pettit in 2008 and swapping her Jimmy Choo's for RM Williams. An absolute passion for the land and environment is now able to blossom in every way. Catriona and James welcomed baby Andrew into the world in 2009 and returned to her Getaway travels in 2010, their second baby Charles was born in March 2011. Welcoming all opportunities motherhood has brought, Catriona designs a children's range of clothing with Target which has been hugely successful and growing each year. In collaboration with her baby range, Catriona is also a Brand Ambassador for Australian Wool Innovation Limited.
In 2013 Catriona released her second book A Grandmother’s Wisdom a story of a beautiful relationship between a Grandmother and Grandchild.
As a self-confessed chatterbox, Catriona Rowntree is a highly sort after public speaker and MC – spontaneous, witty and always in control, she leaves every room engaged and entertained!
Jonathon Ward-‐ One of Australia’s most prominent designers, is renowed for his effortless versatility with his vast portfolio covering the realms of womens culture, womens ready to wear, means wear, childrens wear, footwear, accessories, corporate and school uniforms. Raised on a sheep and cattle station in central west NSW, Wards innate talent for drawing and design lead him away from the country to the prestigious Parson’s College of Art Design in New York. After gaining experience with some of Australia’s most prestigious fashion houses and international names such as Yves Saint Laurent, Jonathon Ward Couture was established in 1988 to cater for his growing demand as an independent designer. This successful Couture business continues to operate today with Wards designs being worn by many international and Australian celebrities and icons including Kylie Minogue, Elle McPherson and Nicole Kidman. Jonathon remains as executor designer for RM Williams aswell as the ambassador for Australian Wool Innovations, Wool4Skool Program where he helps design students develop an understanding and appreciation of Australian Wool.
SARAH JANE CLARK
Sarah Jane Clarke has been honoured as one of the most stylish and influential women in Australia, asked to guest edit Australian Vogue, appearing on the cover of Sunday Life’s “most stylish women” issue and regularly profiled in the likes of Vogue and Harper’s BAZAAR internationally as one of Australia’s best-dressed women.
In 1999 Sarah-Jane Clarke & Heidi Middleton, started selling bespoke denim on London's Portobello Road. Within two years the collection expanded into seasonal ready to wear, evolving from an underground phenomena in Australia to the runways of New York & London gaining them international recognition. This was the start of the fashion label we now know as Sass & Bide. Their free-spirited aesthetic and modern edge have moulded the identity of their label and fuelled its success. The close friends positioned their label in some 200 stores around the world, secured their place on the BRW list of Australia’s richest people under forty (in 2011 they sold 65 per cent of Sass & Bide to Myer for $42.5 million) and opened a flagship store in New York. Myer bought out Sass & Bide in late 2013, and Clarke and Middleton severed ties with the brand in 2014.
In 2009 Sass & Bide launched a one-off charity event called the Shine Initiative with Barnardos that auctioned artwork produced by celebrity friends that would benefit abused children. In 2010, the two were announced as the Australian winners of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award. In 2010, Clarke was also appointed the ambassador of Australia for UNHCR, to raise awareness of its Safe Mother & Baby campaign. Sarah also supports countless other charity initiatives, including the Make-A-Wish campaign to raise funds and awareness to help grant wishes for seriously ill children.
A writer and editor for 15 years, Emily joined InStyle magazine as editor in May, 2015. She came
to the role from a period in London, where she worked with major British and international
fashion retailers including Net-a-Porter, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis. Prior to this, she was
associate editor at Marie Claire Australia, a title she worked on for many years.
Akira Isogawa is one of Australia’s most iconic designers. Born in Kyoto Japan, Akira moved to Australia in 1986 where he studied fashion design at the Sydney Institute of Technology, drawing inspiration from contemporary Japanese design.
Since 1998, Akira has shown his collections in Paris, where he presents Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections to international buyers each year. He has achieved international recognition for his exquisite contemporary designs, which are sought after in every major fashion capital throughout the world.
Akira continues to maintain a strong presence in Sydney, where he has shown his Resort collections during Australian Fashion Week since 1996. He has four stand alone boutiques in Australia – in Woollahra and the Strand Arcade, Sydney; Fitzroy in Melbourne; and Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
Since being named Designer of the Year and Womenswear Designer of the Year at the Australian Fashion Industry Awards in 1999 Akira has received a string of awards. In 2007 Akira was awarded the inaugural Australian Fashion Laureate Award for his contribution to the Australian Fashion Industry. In 2006 Akira received the Award for Fashion Excellence. And, in 2005 he was honoured by Australia Post with his image appearing on an ‘Australian Legend’ commemorative postage stamp.
Akira’s work has been fondly embraced by the Australian arts sector. In 2004/05, Akira Isogawa: Printemps Été opened at the National Gallery of Victoria – the first solo fashion and textiles exhibition by an Australian fashion designer to be presented at a major national or state institution (touring thereafter in Singapore, Manila, and Bangkok). In 2003 the Sydney Festival staged an exhibition of his garment construction techniques at Object Gallery, creating the most successful show in the gallery’s history. Akira has also been invited to exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art and twice has been included in the Powerhouse Museum’s Fashion of the Year retrospective.
Akira has designed costumes for four Sydney Dance Company productions – Salome, Air & Other Invisible Forces, Ellipse, Grand- and for the players in the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In addition, he spend eighteen months designing the costumes for the Australian Ballet’s production of Graeme Murphy’s Romeo and Juliet, to tour the Sydney Opera House in December 2011.
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