Our Picks of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival

By Sarah Willcocks
13th Mar 2014

Being fashionable in this overwhelming era of live streams and instant gratification means knowing what's hot before everyone else (or at least the blogger next to you). If you are only just planning your Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival wardrobe now, you're fashionably late; events run though the whole month of March – and sometimes beyond – even though the main event only starts next week! Let me get you up to speed with eight best-of-the-rest-of-the-fest picks.

I usually steer clear of including the main festival runways in such recommendation lists as I figure everybody knows about them and needs their sartorial horizons stretched in other directions. But VAMFF's Grand Showcase concept was literally breathtaking last year, with its full-on spectacle and near-couture fashion week vibe. And who better to blow minds this time around than psychedelic kaftan queen Camilla? If it's good enough for Eva Longoria (who will be perched front row), it's good enough for me.

Some people make me mad at the fact that they are so darn talented and I, alas, am not. Fashion photographer and filmmaker Christian Blanchard and stylist Bec Cole have recently angered me with the beautiful, exotic imagery from their new 'Spirit Queen' exhibition. I can't be too mad at them though; they are selling prints of their wondrous creation, which will at least make my (and possibly your) bare walls very happy indeed!

That anything goes, slightly wild, rebellious spirit of 80's and early 90's fashion is still alive today if you look hard enough. Offbeat jewellery label O.T.T. by Lia T brings past and present designer generations together in a vibrant mash up with bonus art and zany manicures for this pop-up event. Think classic Ken Done and Reg Mombassa patterned pieces, alongside relative newbies, Di$count and Desert Designs.

Local stylist, Nadia Barbaro, has compiled 'Vintage Girls': a new tome that celebrates fashion of eras past. This exhibition of fashion pieces supports the book's launch and will features the likes of few modern fashion icons, including Kimbra, Mad Men costumier Janie Bryant, and ballerina Juliet Burnett.

I harp on about this being the best runway show of the festival each year (The colour! The inhibition! The sometimes downright bonkers clothes!), and finally people have figured it out. Long gone are the days when the house was half empty; I hear the National Graduate Showcase is one of VAMFF's best selling events. Get your tickets to see into fashion's potential future before it's too late!

Young designer, Nixi Killick, stood out from the pack at last year's Graduate Showcase (I think I dubbed her aesthetic 'other-worldly technicolour' at the time). And in 2014 she's striking out on her own with an offsite runway to launch her very own label. Be prepared for anything but expect nothing (except perhaps for colour with a capital 'C').

It's enough to make a bride-to-be scream. But I applaud Mariana Hardwick in opening up her archives and letting tertiary students have their (hopefully not too wicked) way with her old gowns. The Recycled Runway display will promote up-cycled fashion at its finest.

I'm going to be a bit cheeky now and sneak this photographic fashion, food and art exhibition onto my list (I confess that I helped in selecting the designer line-up involved). So what if I'm a tad biased; the reasons I signed onto the project without hesitation are the same reasons why I think you'll like it.  Seriously talented stylist Emily Ward, food designer Ryan Foote and photographer Stu Morley have produced an intimate, creative, grassroots exhibition featuring genius labels like Limedrop, Tettmann.Doust, Kathryn Beker, Christina Exie, Neo Dia and Aaizel.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
17th - 23rd March | Various Locations
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Main Image Credit: Lucas Dawson

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