A volunteer’s guide to surviving Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

Illustration by TwylaMae
Words by Corey Vlahos

Trust me… the models don’t bite.

Working at a fashion week can be daunting, exciting, stressful and most of all, exceedingly rewarding.

With Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival in full swing, I can only expect that first-year volunteers are feeling the anxiety of it all. So, from one former nervous wreck to the current nervous wrecks, here are eight tips that will ease the mind, body and fashion soul.

Don’t dress for the runway

I know… it’s a fashion event. And you’re probably envisioning the Instagram photos that will, of course, make your friends Tiffany Blue with envy. Well, sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’ll be wearing a supplied T-shirt and black jeans. If you want to mix it up, may I suggest a thin turtleneck underneath said T-shirt.

Have a smile on your face at all times

You could be having the worst day of your life. Your fish died, you dropped your iPhone on the way to your shift and you just failed a subject at uni. All reasonable situations to put you in a bad mood. Still, you’re working at an event where patrons have paid good money to attend. No one likes a killjoy, you feel?

Arrive 15 minutes early

Arriving early will give you time to sign in, ask any questions that may be causing anxiety and find the best hiding place for your bag. And if you’re really lucky, you might even score an elusive chicken wrap before they’re all gone.

Have a water bottle and snacks with you at all times

Lean in because this is a pivotal tip: with all the running around you’ll undoubtedly be doing, a pocket full of almonds and a full bottle of water will save your life. Once you’re stationed at your designated spot, you must not leave. In the wise words of Andy Sachs: “Man the desk at all times.”

Take initiative 

Being self-reliant is a must if you want to succeed during fashion week. Never ask irritating questions like, “do these gift bags go on rows A, B and C.” Majority of the time you will have been briefed beforehand. If not, ask another volunteer. Your supervisor has more important things to worry about.

Have a cloth in your back pocket

Those stationed on the runway will know that nine times out of ten, a drink will spill. It’s your duty to get down on your hands and knees and wipe that champagne up. No one wants to see a model slip and fall.

Return the gift bags after the show

Unless you have been informed otherwise, do not take them home with you. Comprende?

Never leave until you’re dismissed

If you want to leave a memorable impression that will certainly guarantee a phone call next season, I suggest that you stick around after the show. Asking a question like, “is there anything else you need me to do?” will show your determination and your commitment to your team.

Volunteering in itself is a rewarding experience. Whether you’re working one shift or the whole week, you’re bound to leave with new skills, some new friends and hopefully some industry contacts.

If this article still doesn’t ease your crippling anxiety, then listen to Rihanna’s song ‘Phresh Out The Runway’ before every shift. It sure helped me.

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