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October 6, 2016

Creating the look of the Adelaide Fashion Festival

Devising a brand identity for the Adelaide Fashion Festival seems like a job purpose built for Cul-de-sac - an agency with a deep knowledge of fashion and strong experience in multi-platform campaigns.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Josh Fanning

It was a long and geographically diverse path that led Marco Cicchianni and Deni Jones to creating the brand identity of the Adelaide Fashion Festival.


As part of his development work, Marco created a custom font for the 2016 Adelaide Fashion Festival. “I just wanted texture and shape in the font to go with what we had developed,” says Marco. “There’s a lot of geometry and it’s condensed, so when you pair it together it’s a bit jumbled. It’s a bit imperfect, so when you look at it you have to consider it.”

While it has been used only sparingly in the final collateral, the font’s existence  is proof that the deeper your development goes, the more resolved a design becomes.

CoNTrA Typeface by Cul-de-sac

Beginning with Deni’s time in Italy, where she worked for some of the world’s biggest names in fashion, it wends all the way to an upstairs office tucked just off Magill Road in Stepney.

“I lived in Milan for ten years – I was working for Valentino and Armani over there in their press office, so PR and marketing, and then came back to Australia to open Armani in Australia,” says Deni.

“Armani was part of the Singapore-based Club 21 group, they had Prada, Calvin Klein, Bvlgari, Donna Karen, Issey Miyake –  they came under my umbrella.

“I looked after all that until I had two children and all the travelling got too much and I went on board at Marie Claire as executive fashion editor there, so changed to doing more styling – but there was a lot of that involved [with the Club 21 brands] anyway, because we used to do shows and launches.”

Meanwhile, Marco was running a highly successful creative agency out of Sydney that serviced some big clients – including Club 21.

‘That’s how we met,” says Marco. “I have a print background from many years ago and I still love type and all that, but my time in Sydney having the agency – we got into this very integrated approach to creativity, we got into making films and TV ads, and also digital – which is a really important thing to have.”


Now, the couple are based in Adelaide and run Cul-de-sac – a small agency that executes a huge scope of jobs – from big branding jobs to art direction, to fashion, interior and event styling.

The pair’s work for the 2016 Adelaide Fashion Festival, which relies heavily on a knowledge of fashion and operates across many mediums, draws on Deni and Marco’s specific strengths. But it also incorporates unique aspects of South Australia in its content and its these inclusions that push the scope of the branding collateral further – making it a touchpoint for the state as a whole, as well as for the festival itself.

“We had to tie it back conceptually to something to do with the state, that was the brief,” says Deni.

“We were like fashion designers in a way – it was mood boards and colours,” says Marco.  “So we looked at where can we go and where can we get inspiration from?

“We looked at Lake Eyre for a while… And then there was the colours of the Coorong as one of the concepts, but we ended up in the far north.”

Borrowing from the epic landscapes of the northern Flinders Ranges and surrounds, Cul-de-sac built a colour palette of burnt earths, charcoals and sunset pinks and yellows. Marco also incorporated elements of the area’s history and geology as well.


“Obviously that landscape is thousands and thousands of years old,” says Marco. “It sort of refers to the way earth looks, and the way fossils look.”

“The sort of colours, the lines – that was the inspiration,” adds Deni, “and then we thought we could use this with the fashion images.”

By combining their existing work with a fashion shoot featuring some of SA’s biggest designers, Deni and Marco created the hero image that now fronts almost every fashion festival outing. Beginning as a poster, the piece has since been transformed into a website, a marquee, car branding and a TV commercial.



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