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Here’s how a stylist prepares for Melbourne Fashion Week

Photography by Kamilla Musland

The parts you don’t get to see.

If you’ve ever attended a Melbourne Fashion Week show, you may have wondered how each show comes together so seamlessly.

While the teams working backstage might make it look easy, in reality, it takes months of meticulous planning and preparation to pull off.

Now that fashion week is in full swing, we thought we’d head backstage to get a glimpse of how a runway really comes together. We pulled aside stylist Stuart Walford for a quick chat ahead of tonight’s Student Runway and Friday’s Closing Town Hall Runway.

Hi Stuart, what does the lead up to Melbourne Fashion Week involve for you?

Lots of self-reassurance and triple-checking that I’ve supplied all the right deadlines to my suppliers! I can’t express how much admin is involved in being a stylist – it’s not just glamorously shopping, believe it or not.

The lead up to Melbourne Fashion Week 2018 has also been very hands-on as I am styling both the Student Runway and Closing Town Hall Runway, along with four Pop-Up Runways which are spilling onto the streets of Melbourne throughout the week. I’ve been mentoring and meeting with all the student designers in the lead up to their show, which has been a very exciting project to be involved with. I’ve really been able to see the progress and development of each student collection. The Closing Town Hall Runway is a vastly different process and involves truckloads of planning and scheduling to ensure all garments are available and come together in time to create an extensive runway show. 

Usually, I’m on my computer every day, collaging head-to-toe looks and then chasing down suppliers, designers and retailers to ensure I can bring those visions to life in time for the runway.

Can you tell us more about your process?

It’s extensive and the ride is fast and fierce but it’s incredibly rewarding to see your vision come to fruition.

The process involves initial scheduling and programming to ensure the runway features like-minded brands that share a similar aesthetic. Then it’s pretty much flying through emails to designers and retailers to lock down all the garments and key looks of their collections to ensure every piece you want is available to showcase.

Once I have a good grasp on my creative vision, inspiration and the looks available, I then shift into shoe and accessory mode which can be the most intense part of the process! I really try to accessorise each look as much as possible, so it can require anywhere up to 30 additional suppliers to ensure I have enough on the styling table to allocate to each runway.

What trends will we see on the Melbourne Fashion Week runway this year?

It might be controversial to some, but I really dislike working towards obvious seasonal trends and have always naturally gravitated away from them. In saying this, I do think this mentality might actually be ‘the new trend’.

So, if I had to pick one, it would totally be the ‘new ugly’ which yes, includes the horrendously fabulous Dad sneakers! I think we’ll see a lot of strong female tailoring, odd style pairings, big sleeves and hopefully some sequins. These are all of my favourite things so let’s hope I’m not alone.

What emerging designers should we be looking out for?

Kalaurie is a beautiful Melbourne label which is made-to-order and completely breathtaking. Molly Younger will be showcasing her latex bags in the Closing Town Hall Runway and they are absolutely incredible – keep an eye out for the photo print lunch bags. Sans Beast is another stellar new label breathing new life into sustainable, animal-friendly vegan leather bags. You’ll hopefully see them everywhere this season as they are rapidly growing into a Melbourne favourite. 

How does runway differ to editorial and commercial styling?

Editorial styling allows you to take more risks with how to wear and interpret a garment as it’s a still image. With editorial, you also have the beauty of time, which is something you don’t have in the runway world. In the case of major Fashion Weeks, they often cast and fit one look specifically for the model, which eliminates the need for a wardrobe change backstage. When styling for a Melbourne Fashion Week runway, you need to take into account what can be dressed and styled onto a model in fewer than 90 seconds. To me, this is really the only restriction!

What will you be wearing to Melbourne Fashion Week?

No one except my team will see me during MFW so you’ll never know! Probably corduroy pants with a T-shirt and my Gucci Dad sneakers if I’m completely honest.

Any tips for people who have no idea what to wear?

If you’ve been eyeballing a major fashion item lately, now is your chance to purchase it guilt-free, so don’t waste any more time and go and buy it! If you haven’t had your eye on anything, don’t feel like you need to run out and purchase a whole new outfit just to attend a show. You’re only contributing to waste as you’ll probably never wear the outfit again. It’s so clichéd to say, but I’ll say it again – you will radiant confidence and beauty when you feel your best, so find your favourite items in your wardrobe and workshop them into a new look. It’s amazing what a few accessories can do to something you’ve become so bored of over the seasons. 

What shows/events are you most looking forward to this year?

The Fashion Forum with Mary Portas will be an absolute stand-out. I encourage anyone who is passionate about the future of Australian retail to attend. Mary is our RuPaul of the retail world.

The We Margiela film screenings will be another exceptional experience as Martin Margiela is a true genius. Ultimately, I’m looking forward to showcasing both the Student Runway and the Closing Town Hall Runway and I can assure you they are both not to be missed!

Tickets for Melbourne Fashion Week are selling fast. Head here to score your seats.

mfw.melbourne.vic.gov.au

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