Contrary to popular belief, Melbourne’s sea of black-clad professionals has been (somewhat) replaced by a fanfare of colour, texture and style. Featuring everything from up-and-coming local designers to couture garments, Melbourne’s twisted laneways and underground boutiques will keep any fashion lover’s appetite satiated. Surpassing rival city Sydney, Melbourne displays a distinctive palette of fashion that infuses staple items with bright colours, vintage pieces and idiosyncratic touches to create a look entirely its own. A series of emerging designers, stylists and retailers continue to generate their goods in a state that has produced international names like Alannah Hill, Bettina Liano and Mariana Hardwick. Among the new breed of talented couture craftsmen (and women) are the likes of LIFEwithBIRD and Melbourne-based designer Livia Arena. With the label launching in 2010, Arena’s first collection appeared at L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2011. With a focus on intelligent adaptations of classic styles, threaded locally in Melbourne, Livia Arena consistently underpins her wares with subtlety and intrigue. Her summer range is one to behold. The former lawyer believes her designs are more a study of character through fabric using “laser-cut, which dissolves almost to reveal more of the wearer, just as character reveals itself as we get to know people”.