Everyone’s Torquing about Fashion…

Fashion Torque hosts Jenny Bannister and Philip Boon

Words really can’t describe the enigmatic, eclectic, and larger than life personalities of iconic fashion designer Jenny Bannister and her fashionable partner in crime, celebrity stylist Philip Boon. The dynamic duo are the colourful hosts of Australia’s only live fashion chat show, Fashion Torque and they need to be seen to be believed. The astounding success of their show is in equal part due to their ability to open up relevant industry issues for public discussion, mixed with their flamboyant fashion sense and penchant for performance. It’s this artistic backdrop that has set the scene for other equally glamboyant stylites who love the chance to dress up, talk fashion, and mingle with like-minded creative creatures. This is enhanced by the FT dress code, with each show themed into a fashion category. The first show of the year is `Jungle Chic’ with a prize for the most inventive ensemble.

Philip Boon and Jenny Bannister in jungle attire for their launch party at Fashion Torque’s new home, the Hasti Bala room, The Carlton

But it’s not all flash and no facts. In the first year Fashion Torque welcomed discerning industry figureheads to its stage including former Project Runway judge and now head buyer for The Iconic website, Sarah Gale; Herald Sun Fashion Editor, Anna Byrne; Garland & Garland Fashion agency co-founder, Phoebe Garland; and our own Exposed Online editor and blogger, Sacha Strebe.

Sacha Strebe, Philip Boon and Jenny Bannister at Fashion Torque, 2011

Fashion Torque kick off their first 2012 show tonight at their new `home’, the Hasti Bala room at The Carlton, Level 3, 193 Bourke Street, Melbourne from 7pm. It’s FREE for everyone to attend, so be sure you don’t miss this unique event and join in the discussion with their special guests Sarah Gale ex-Project Runway judge and buyer extraordinaire at The Iconic; a.Concept designer and Project Runway winner Anthony Capon; fashion reporter on Channel 10’s The Circle and soon-to-be author, Emily Power; and Style Melbourne Editor, Sarah Willcox.

Fashion Exposed Blog took five with Jenny and Philip before their big night to chat about why Fashion Torque has seen such unprecedented success after just one year; their cult following of fashionable attendees; and their individual opinions on working with each other and why it is such a successful recipe.

Fashion Torque is only in its infancy but already the talk show has become a go-to for industry insiders, bloggers and fashion critics alike – why do you think there has been such a huge response to FT? why?

I think everybody in all kinds of industries need a sounding board and need to feel they belong and I know there are many online resources for that, but Jenny and I felt that we needed a resource that was personal and live, and instant. I think people have responded so well because we all want to have our say, and who doesn’t love a chat show!!!

The instant response to FT has been due to people being able to get instant answers by interacting with the panel and the other guests. Every thing is close up and real which makes it very easy to network, and many a good meeting has been made. It’s like a happy club of like-minded individuals.

Why is Fashion Torque such a unique event? What makes it so different to any other fashion community or networking channel?

Jenny and I are in the position of being both in the fashion industry for many years, so we have worked with (and have many friends) who are really experts in their chosen fields and are really happy to share with our audience their knowledge. This doesn’t happen anywhere where people give their amazing knowledge for free – which our guest panelists do – so we are extremely lucky and fortunate, as are our audience, to experience it!

FT was set up as it is, through sheer lateral thinking, no funds and kind hosts. We wanted it to be easy to access and free to attend.

Many of your audience members use the event as a chance to dress up and really showcase their individual flair – why do you think FT inspires this and attracts this crowd?

If you work in the fashion industry you usually love to dress up and so our Fashion Torquers love to be involved. And with Jenny being the Queen of dress up, you get the chance to see what outfit Jenny comes up with next. Who doesn’t love a dress up party and with well known guests!

FT is the only fashion group in Melbourne where you can dress and say what you feel. It also attracts like-minded souls. We have all made a lot of friends out of holding FT. It has brought out the most expressive dressers and bon vivants.You won’t find these people in the mall!

After such a successful debut year, you recently announced Fashion Torque’s new residence in the Hasti Bala Room at The Carlton – how did this pairing come about? And why did this venue suit the chat show?

We realised we had outgrown our last venue and so the wonderful Hannah Bellil from The Carlton, who is a regular at Fashion Torque, approached us with a master plan and we loved the idea. I had already seen the space and knew Jenny would love it, which she did. The Carlton is totally what Fashion Torque is all about – creative and colourful!

Hannah Bellil has been a firm follower of FT and has held parties for us at The Carlton, apres our knock out shows at the Melbourne Town Hall. She knows our ‘torque’ well and could see we would love the Hasti Bala as a new location.

You have hosted many great panels with industry figureheads and your first show for the year promises one of the strongest yet – including buying powerhouse Sarah Gale of online super store The Iconic’ Emily Power who was former Herald Sun Fashion Editor and is now the fashion presenter of tv show The Circle; Project Runway winner and a.concept fashion designer Anthony Capon; and Style Melbourne editor Sarah Willcocks – this crosses all spectrums of the fashion industry – is this your aim? To ensure there all viewpoints on the topic are covered at the talk show?

Most definitely, we always want many varied opinions on the show and even in the audience, so we will continue to have a broad range of panelists. We are really looking forward to who we’re having on the show in the coming months, stay tuned!!!

We choose our panelists to bounce off each other in their respective fields in relation to our topic of the discussion, so that our audience gets the best information and entertainment .

How do you plan each show together? What is it like to work alongside such an icon like Jenny Bannister? And Jenny, how is it working with a similar icon in modern fashion as Phillip?

Jenny Bannister is the most creative person I know and is such an amazing talent in this industry. I am so lucky to work with her on Fashion Torque and we have a great time planning the show, it really is a reality show in itself our ‘meetings’! We laugh throughout the whole process and I really enjoy this time together, again I’m lucky to work with and to call her my friend, I think that shows with our chemistry you see on Fashion Torque. I could never be called ‘the straight man’ in any duo, but with Jenny I am, happily!

Planning the shows with Philip is always full of humour and news. We love the industry so much we are in tune with what’s going on and it’s quite a precise affair of brainstorming current fashion topics… on the couch! The industry excites us both in different ways due to our alternate roles within it. Our panelists, who we think up on the spot, are contacted toute suite, we adore how they all love to be part of our fashion community and we are very thankful to them for coming on the journey with us.

How do you both complement each other? Why do you think your combination makes for such a successful recipe?

We are very different in many ways, but we both love fashion and dressing up and discussing different topics. I suppose we like to be a bit controversial every now and then and that’s why we work together, we understand each other and really like each other, that’s important!

The combination of Jenny and Philip has a special chemistry of humour, style and controversy as we both get a kick out of the same things. Philip is teaching me new things everyday, as he says” I have a new career now, I am not retired.”

What are you looking forward to in 2012? Any other plans you can reveal? Will we ever see your show live on television perhaps?

Well yes we are working on putting together a television show at the moment that will be intelligent, entertaining and inspiring. It could take a while though but Jenny and I are committed to continuing the success of Fashion Torque and taking it to your TV screen! An Iphone app is also in the plan, stay tuned peeps!

Plans for 2012 are to embrace the future changes of the industry, as Jenny says “Change is the new black”. Get with it in a positive way and work with it. And of course a TV show is certainly in the script!

Anything else you would like to add?

We are really excited for the year ahead and the ongoing support of all the fashion insiders that have been involved already and to our wonderful Fashion Torquers who have been so loyal – we wouldn’t be doing it without that!

FT was formed when Jenny and Philip felt a need for a fashion industry discussion group, that was free to attend and open to anyone to attend to, form a comrade of people to move forward by networking and sharing.

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