All the things I wish I’d known before my first Melbourne Fashion Week

Photography by Maddie Roux
Words by Nikki Escalante

Important deets.

Melbourne Fashion Week kicks off today and for first-time attendees, the mere thought of heading along can sway between exhilarating and terrifying.

Whether you’re tagging along as a date, have received your first industry invite or just simply decided to join the festivities this year, welcome.

For eight glorious days in September, Melbourne’s Town Hall transforms into what could pass off as a rose-coloured Jumanji, whereby the dice is your MFW ticket and it feels as though you’ve nosedived straight into Instagram.

The good news is, that in this world, there are no crazy stampedes. And the kingdom is only interested in figuratively eating you alive. The animals are swapped for glamorous bloggers in Acler’s latest or every fabric Virgil Abloh has touched.

My first time at the spectacle felt like walking into something so otherworldly, it was unfortunate my Honda Civic remained a pumpkin. At the sight of it all, my heart was full but my social anxiety was simultaneously taking over. Perhaps if someone had kindly provided me a handy guide, I could’ve navigated it all with ease and the confidence of Anna Wintour.

Here are some need-to-knows:

Everything’s pretty and there are bloggers everywhere

It’s no secret that events in 2018 are curated with influencers in mind. From the interior, to the cocktails, to the dedicated selfie stations, you can count on everything at MFW to be aesthetically pleasing for the ‘gram.

From Row C, you’re pretty much in the prime spot to play Bachelor Bingo. You score points by making it in Georgia Love’s Insta story.

Networking opportunities are endless

Or so I’m told, but being the walking-not-talking definition of socially inept, I’m still convinced it’s a lie. Wait, why can’t we have therapy animals at the bar again?

For good ice-breaking content, make a trip to one of the free events running in the city before a show. Even if you come home with one new mutual follower, it means you made the effort of speaking to a real live person. As daunting as it may be, realise that you’ve already got common ground, and if fashion exists to do one thing, it’s to unite bad bitches together.

Make the most of the free events

For those of us without the luxury of a large disposable income, there are a number of free events well-worth checking out, that way you can immerse yourself in the #fashun while staying totally respectful to your wallet.

Fashion Capsules, for instance, will see six exhibits dispersed across the city, featuring installations from Victorian-based digital artists, designers and filmmakers. Find them across the Arts Centre, Campbell Arcade, Collins Square, Collins Street, Bourke Street and Emporium.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on backstage at Fashion Week, the Runway Deconstructed exhibit will walk you though show prep with a series of photos and videos, run by The Masters Institute at City Library.

Over at Melbourne Central, RMIT’s Bachelor of Fashion Design students will showcase headpieces they’ve created for the Broken Heel Drag Festival. The display will showcase various material techniques, methods and approaches.

The last day of MFW will see a Menswear Pop-up, featuring new season looks from Et al, Peter Jackson, Incu, Mr Simple and more.

Get inspired at the Student Collections runway

There’s a ridiculous amount of talent roaming around this city, and if you’re looking for fresh style inspo, the Student Collections always delivers. It’s a breath of fresh air among more commercial concepts, brimming with innovative cuts, interesting themes and bloody creative ways to showcase tulle.

We’ve also seen the diversity slowly grow at each festival, which I look forward to every year. If Crazy, Rich Asians can take Hollywood by storm, I honestly can’t wait to see what the fashion industry offers when it catches up.

Dress for yourself

The pressure to wear something flashy and photogenic is very real. Thankfully, feminism exists and at Fashion Week, boundaries don’t. It’s lawless, like your 3am Sunday kebab pitstop, where everyone freely expresses themselves while decked in whatever makes them feel sassy.

Bring out the pink sequins if you fancy, and wear blue lipstick if you’re truly feeling it. If I must give advice, I’d leave behind the ironic slogan tee and swap it for your newfound confidence. That attire will speak for itself.


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