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Photo Diary: What it takes for a designer to prepare for Melbourne Fashion Week

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Becca Crawford and Cristina Guerrero

Behind the scenes.

To the outside observer or attendee, fashion weeks are incredibly glamorous. There’s champagne, beautiful people and, of course, the clothing. But to anyone who works in the fashion industry, fashion weeks are a rather different affair.

As an editor, fashion week involves me rushing around, hurriedly snapping content for our social media, perhaps nabbing a quote or two from a designer and generally trying to compress my usual workday into a much shorter one. (But I can’t pretend the shows and free champagne aren’t an excellent perk though.)


Discover up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


For a fashion designer, on the other hand, both the lead up to fashion week and the week itself is jam-packed with hundreds of different decisions and moving parts. Here, the designer and founder of Melbourne label A.BCH, Courtney Holm, gives us a glimpse into her preparations for this year’s Melbourne Fashion Week.

The design process

I do a lot of thinking, problem-solving and designing in my head. I find it feels most natural to me to slowly evolve and improve on a style over time while also keeping my finger on the pulse in the entire making process from pattern-making to cutting and sewing.

I usually sketch my ideas out after I’ve done some sampling. My process is quite fluid in this way. I’m really inspired by textures and ideas around constraints.

Our studio and workspace

The A.BCH studio and circular factory is our little oasis. We have a beautiful warehouse with lots of natural light and high saw-tooth ceilings.

This is where everything happens – magical and mundane, from meetings to design ideas to patternmaking, cutting, sewing and finishing, packing orders and customer consultations.

The A.BCH team

Our people are very talented, they’re the ones who bring every A.BCH garment and all our communications to life. Our machinists construct everything from samples to stock and fully tailored pieces.

It can get pretty busy in the studio when we’re in full swing production mode! There are also countless admin and communications tasks for us to complete but it makes our space buzzy and collaborative, which I love.

The decisions required to make a great show

Having an ‘evergreen collection’ means all our pieces are designed for stick around and we don’t do traditional collections or calendars. So when deciding what to put on the runway, it’s more about putting together the expression of that moment, enhanced by special pieces made from waste or limited materials and a few new styles.

I’m considering the colour/pattern/texture theme and balancing the men’s/women’s/unisex looks. There’s also some additional fitting to do after the models have their first fitting with the stylist.

Dealing with high stress

To deal with stress, I take some time out, drink water, have coffee, take some deep breaths. When the weather is good, I’ll take my dog for a walk on the water or just stand in the sunshine for a minute.

Behind-the-scenes

There’s always the messier side of getting everything ready for a show. Hangers everywhere, boxes piling up for deliveries and, as always, any new pieces we create will have offcuts that we need to sort by colour and fibre and store for recycling. 

You can catch A.BCH at Melbourne Fashion Week’s Underground Runway on November 20. Find out more here.

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