All about Anthony Capon

Going in with a predisposition; I came out with a revelation.

Reputations of being set and confident in his ways, battling stereotypes and having a formidable character are all that swirled through my mind as I entered the glamorous warehouse that housed my source of conversation, Anthony Capon. After all, that was all I knew of him.

The Melbourne designer and one of the creative minds behind the Et Al group – which houses the labels Showroom and Comma – winner of Project Runway Australia season 2 and all ‘round nice guy, however, certainly knows his stuff and exactly how to impart his wisdom and thoughts on all things life, love, fashion and the industry.

Draped in his signature black garments comprising of sheer, textured fabric and a wickedly high pair of black heels, Anthony greeted me with a smile and a tentative gait that welcomed me to his sartorial lair.

His office is a gregariously messy, hygienically clean, well-kept haven of design and creativity. With colleagues buzzing around desks, in and out of stockrooms and enjoying the last few meagre minutes of their evening imprisonment in the office, Anthony showed me around the sun bathed and warm space.

Images and swatches of fabric and designs adorned the walls of rooms littered with accessories, swathes of fabric, paper and mannequins. Against one far wall hung  Anthony’s latest Autumn-Winter collection, which comprises 30 new pieces all in eye-catching textures.

This season’s look? Black. Fairly usual given the designer’s penchant for the dark, mysterious and head-turning.

He explained to me that Et Al and his personal label a.Concept have a very distinct style, which mostly involves black and white. The summer, though, is looking toward colour and bright fluorescents, which Anthony says they can always try, but it’s not quite his style.

a.Concept is Anthony’s baby. It was born from his passion for design and is funded and housed by Et Al, whom sells his collections through two of their stores.

He loves it and is happy to take charge of the label, entirely on his own.

He’s been with them for around five years, so was fortunate to have Et Al behind him when in the dim, dark past – nearly two-and-a-half years ago – he embellished his skills on the legendary Project Runway Australia. They wanted to ‘cut the crap’ and help him out, removing all the hardships and struggles of starting a new label with no financial backing.

“Banks don’t support the ragtrade”, explained Anthony. “But the team have been so supportive in allowing me to launch and operate my label on its own.”

When it comes to what he does, there is no second-guessing. Anthony loves creativity, to be creative, live and work looking and believing he is as fabulous as he can be and be damned if anyone tells him otherwise.

It’s this attitude I thought was the most profound.

He creates his pieces because he visualises them. Anthony envisions everything that his hands make as being a part of a stage show, some sort of performance or coasting down a runway. He says that’s because of his childhood stage show influence. As a three-year old he was very heavily involved in Irish dancing – a unique talent that still rears its head every now and then, “Usually when I’m excited, a little jig comes out”, he mentioned.

It’s no wonder he’s so comfortable in skirts and heels.

He made quite an impact on the Australian fashion scene when he publicly appeared in skirts, which surprised the veteran wearer.

Anthony explained, “The skirts are a part of my wardrobe because they’re easy to wear and I believe they’re a great piece to own.

“I don’t think everyone can pull it off and I don’t want to see some pooncey little guy walking around with a skirt because he thinks it makes him look pretty. They can actually be a really masculine thing – look at ancient Rome, Scotland, Braveheart – but admittedly, they’re not for everybody.”

It’s the influence of his dancing history, combined with the way he envisions work that result in some stunning pieces, full of texture, layering and lines that complement each other harmoniously and allow for wickedly easy movement.

Anthony’s enthusiasm for his work, his “singular, bachelor lifestyle” – without a refrigerator because he hates to cook – his talents, confidence and goals are very infectious, which as it happens, affected others around the country in a moving moment he had never experienced before.

During his time in the spotlight as Australia’s fashion world watched wannabe-after-wannabe designer try and fail on national television, something happened.

Anthony’s aesthetic and his way was not only received by thousands of Australians, but embraced. He had an affect on boys, girls, men and women of all ages and from all walks of life who witnessed, embraced and encouraged him and what he had going on.

“I wore a fucking watering can on my head for god’s sake,” he reminisced. “But that didn’t stop people from contacting me and letting me know how much I’d inspired them.”

What was most notable about Anthony’s newfound recognition for his style and persona was that he’d managed to touch the lives of many people of varying ages so much so they felt compelled to embrace their own life for what it should be.

People contacted him online and made mention of their inspiration by his confidence, willingness to admit to the world his true self and lack of care for whoever thought he was different because he chose to wear heels, a man skirt or other albeit out there bodily embellishments. Some even came-out to him because they didn’t know who else to turn to; a heart warming experience for the mere designer.

What he recalls most with a vague reminiscent smile on his face is that through his time, he has been approached by wives on behalf of their big, masculine husbands to inadvertently introduce the meek men from afar.

“It was hilarious because these women would come up to me in the street and say, ‘Hi, my husband just wanted to introduce himself, but he’s too embarrassed to come over. He loves you and thinks you’re so great’,” he said.

Admittedly, many of these guys didn’t quite know what the hell Anthony is about, but he loved the fact they were willing to admit their appreciation and see him as just another cool guy with his own unique thing going on.

He appreciates and respects – as he too is – people who are simply real.

When Anthony first moved to Melbourne at the young age of 21, he knew what he wanted to do and made friends along the way who helped him foster his creativity. One of his best friends was as creative and expressive as Anthony himself.

A favourite memory is one of a night out on Melbourne’s Gertrude Street. It involved a skirt from an op-shop, a podium, no doubt plenty of alcohol – to feed the designer’s fanciful drinking habits – and the skirt’s spontaneous alteration with nothing but a pair of scissors during a performance in the middle of the club for no one but themselves.

He sees this as a testament to his creative nature and unpredictability.

From this muse, Anthony learnt the phrase embrace the freak, or basically, you are who you are so be the most fabulous person you can be.

He tries to stick to this mantra every day.

While he doesn’t necessarily believe he is a freak, per se – he lives as best he can by shying away from nothing, and living to the beat of his own drum.

His confidence, creativity and zest for the person he is are infectious.

Having come a long way since the days of studying fashion at a TAFE in Canberra, Anthony is taking his life and what he has by the throat and forcing it in the direction he deems worthy.

He is not out to change the world one fashion-lover at a time, not out to impose his man skirt and heel wearing ways on every Australian man, nor out to convert every fashionisto into a clone. He simply wants to be who he is, rock a fabulous black ensemble and live a happy, fulfilled life.

Quite a conspicuous goal for the industry, but revolutionary in its simplicity.

You can follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTHONYCAPON

Like his a.Concept of Fashion Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/a.conceptfash

Read his blog here: http://aconceptfashion.blogspot.com.au/

James Banham
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James Banham

Editor at THE F
James Banham is an Australian lifestyle, fashion and entertainment journalist. His writing can be found on these many topics and more in print and online publications around the country.
James Banham
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  1. […] the same thing, Comma, Showroom and a.Concept by member of the design team, Anthony Capon (who you can read about here), Et Al caters to a very particular aesthetic. This however doesn’t detract from the fact […]