Three years since attending my last fashion show, I was itching to get my glam on. I made the trip down to Melbourne for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) which timed in perfectly with my sister's much anticipated housewarming party (which was subsequently cancelled, but that's a whole other story).
One of the perks of publicly supporting Australian independent fashion labels is meeting the talented designers behind them. Observing first-hand the hard work and dedication that my childhood bestie Belinda Ponczek poured into her now defunct Australian fashion label, my respect for fashion designers soared. Plus, as a creative myself, I understand the painstaking process involved in ideation to physical fruition, and then trying to 'make it' commercially. It's tough.
Some designers I meet remain acquaintances whilst others become friends, and it's thanks to these designer friends that I was able to secure exclusive invites to some runway shows and events. Two of them gave me the heads up many months prior so I was able to get my travel affairs in order. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to support my friends for anything!
The first show I attended was Lush Terrain Sustainable Fashion Event coordinated by friend Julie Belic, founder and designer of Surrender Yoga (previously known as Surrender Apparel). The location chosen for the runway event was the most spectacular I'd ever seen in my lengthy history of attending fashion shows. Julie and her team put out all the stops.
Related Post: 'Lush Terrain' Sustainable Fashion Event at VAMFF 2017
Set in The Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens, the epic displays of colourful blooms and lush surroundings made this a Lush Terrain fashion event indeed. With a glass of bubbly (#veganfail) in hand and my bestie Belinda by my side, I watched as the models sashayed down the runway. I had major greenhouse garden envy but was in sustainable fashion heaven.
My smartphone camera died halfway through the event and I had to rely on an iPad to take photos. Unfortunately the image quality was even worse than the pics I took with my phone so I'm unable to publish these. A little disappointed, but hey, that's life right? The ENTJ in me says the solution is to invest in a solar phone battery. I'll be better prepared next time.
The show was a hit, although I would have liked to have seen the designers in the finale but there seemed to be some confusion as to whether they should walk on the runway at the end. A TV screen displaying the designer and brand would have been great also but I know the setting might have made that difficult. Anyhow, these are minor details. To coordinate a show this size is like orchestrating a wedding - there's bound to be some hiccups but overall it doesn't deter from its fabulousness.
CTF Curated Pop-Up Shop
I was invited to attend the launch of this pop-up shop event by a friend who, surprise surprise, is another fashion designer, Tamara Orixa Chakra of REMUSE. Her avant garde brand known for its elaborate prints and striking pieces was one of several that were featured in the CTF Curated Pop-Up Shop.
This event was organised by the Council of Textile & Fashion (CTF) to provide support and assistance to new Australian labels trying to gain a stronger foothold in the industry and establish themselves as profitable and sustainable businesses.
Transitioning from an emerging brand to an established one is difficult in such a competitive industry as fashion and over the years, I have watched several indie brands fold. So I think it's wonderful that some designers are getting support, mentoring and guidance from CTF. In a time of cheap imports and fast fashion if we can't rely on this organisation to back our local designers, there's something very wrong indeed. Great work CTF!
An ex-fashion designer turned ambassador for Australian-made fashion, Claire Goldsworthy, the gorgeous glamazon behind Melbourne-based blog and magazine The Fashion Advocate is one of the most hard-working female start-up entrepreneurs I've met to date. Her mission: to ensure a thriving Australian fashion industry that nurtures local talent and keeps jobs on our shores.
Claire also happens to be one of the warmest and genuine business women I know and when she gave me advanced notice about her extravagant runway show at Luna Park, I vowed to make a special effort to get dressed up.
Related Post: The Fashion Advocate Runway Event at VAMFF 2017
I thought it appropriate to wear one of the local designers making an appearance in the show. Claire supports many local designers through her e-commerce site The Dress Collective. So I trawled the website to see if there was an outfit I could borrow. Nothing really jumped out at me.
Then one night before I called it a night and only a week out from the runway event, I quickly checked my Instagram feed and spotted a gorgeous full skirt in fuchsia. It was 'The One'.
So I shot the brand Orocéo Castro a message via Instagram. I was completely upfront:
"Hey guys! Do you guys lend out items? I'm actually flying down to attend some eco fashion shows and was going to wear an existing item in my wardrobe but that skirt is [insert emojis]. Would love to borrow to wear... I'd buy but unfortunately I live on our organic farm and won't have a chance to wear it again, and I'm an eco girl so I care about owning for longevity..."
I wasn't sure if I was being too forward, but all I could do was be honest. It must have worked because the next morning, I received a reply letting me know they were happy to lend it to me.
I was absolutely thrilled. I couldn't remember the last time I got this excited about getting dressed up. I left my glam days behind when I moved to the farm and now spend most of my days in jeans and sneakers. The effort to coordinate my entire outfit and makeup was well worth it. I couldn't count the number of people gushing over my outfit, and particularly the Oroceo Castro skirt.
All in all, The Fashion Advocate Runway show was a stand out event introducing me to many local brands I wasn't aware of (Rayan Adarti and DIIDA!!), the atmosphere was electric and I felt like Cinderella. And I owe it all to designer-slash-magician-slash-my-fairy-godmother Paolo Castro and Claire for throwing this exuberant fashion soiree.
A big thank you to Claire, Julie and Tamara for inviting me along to their events. Super proud of you ladies for your tenacity and vision and what you have achieved so far. Here's to many more business milestones! #gomindfulbossladies! xxx
Did you attend any sustainable and ethical fashion events and shows during this year's Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival? Which designers have you got your eye on? Let's chat Australian fashion so make sure to leave a comment below.