Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival 2016

March 21, 2016

As the Australian autumn rolls around, eyes turned towards 20th Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) for a glimpse of the season’s must-haves.

The event ran from February to mid-March, and the festival grounds were set on the backdrop of two iconic buildings this year. The Royal Exhibition Building, built in 1880 and one of the world’s oldest pavilions, created a sense of heritage whilst Melbourne Museum’s glass structure allowed for a contemporary flair to take part in the festivities. Both buildings were encompassed by flourishing botanical gardens. Blue and purple lights danced across the evening sky, guiding the anticipating fashion savvy towards the Victorian mansion.

Fashion headquarters stopped at nothing to keep the guests entertained with Asahi beer and Lavazza Coffee hosting marquees that flowed with champagne and espresso martinis, Lavazza going even as far as providing free canapés of cappuccino mousse topped with espresso caviar. Meanwhile Priceline, one of Australia’s largest beauty retailers, held a beauty bar for people to receive free make-up retouches before attending the runway. Whilst DJs played, male models in suave suits and Virgin Australian flight attendants roamed the precinct, posing for photographs with visitors in front of hot pink lights.

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The crowds grew and the exhibition building’s towering doors opened onto the first night’s Opening Runway. Beyond the doors, a bare and spacious hall with nothing in sight greeted and intrigued; yet it was not long until the runway appeared with overlooking balconies. As guests took their seats, the doors shut and the music began. Supermodel Megan Gale could be seen in the front row.

The Opening Runway featured international and local designers, with collections ranging from intricate lace playsuits to head-to-toe leather looks. Designer Victoria+Woods played with comfort, showing cashmere and wool ensembles paired with white sneakers. Ellery used tones of whites and charcoal blacks in off-the-shoulder garments, with elbows cut outs and long flared sleeves.

Maroon was a stand-out colour throughout all collections, as well as knee-high boots and anything with a fringe. The evening finished with Ellery models walking through a storm of simmering glitter.

GQ Australia Menswear Runway was held in Melbourne Museum’s glass lobby and contrary to the Royal Exhibition had a much more industrial look. M.J. BALE opened the night with grey tonalities paired with pops of navy blues and deep, rich reds. Maroon was again a featured colour making appearances in velour bow ties and velour jackets, with designer Jack London piecing together a whole attire with varied hues, layered to create an intricate textural play.

Looks from the GQ Australia Menswear Runway

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Sunday’s Famous for Fashion Street Style Runway showcased local retailers and was held on a small side street, off the popular Chapel Street. The event created a festive atmosphere in the area, as the music carried down the road and passerbys stopped to peer inside the enclosure.

Brands like Talulah, SIR. and Stevie May showed looks that were inspired by bloggers, including bohemian dressed, fur and edgy back leather pieces.

Colours were largely neutral in white, black and blue, with occasional pops of pale pink and burnt orange. Many of the models wore wide-brimmed hats, chunky heels and vintage sunglasses.

Looks from the Famous for Fashion Street Style Runway

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The festival also featured several industry events to encourage networking and the sharing of knowledge. During the Fashion Industry Forum, international designer Yeojin Bae, Editorial Director at GQ Grant Pearce and highly sought-after consultant David Bush spoke about their views on where the global fashion industry is headed and provided advice to new designers. The renowned Fern Mallis shared her experience of running New York Fashion Week at the Business Seminar.

Best Dressed Gallery

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By Moira Cotnoir
Photography by Isabel Fernandez

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