Melbourne style on parade …

It is hard to believe that another year has come to pass with the VAMFF here in marvellous Melbourne, and no matter how prepared I am it nevertheless seems to creep up on me almost unexpectedly. But each year it also promises a new season of sartorial styles to contemplate as the weather cools and this year it did not disappoint.

My VAMFF adventure began with an Australian premiere screening of Christian Dior: The Refinement of a Lost Paradise (L’élégance du Paradis Perdu) at ACMI As a nod to the House of Dior’s seventieth anniversary, and knowing that the National Gallery of Victoria NGV will be hosting a premiere exhibition later this year to commemorate this milestone, the documentary was a lovely prelude focusing on Christian’s early upbringing in Granville. An insightful piece, it showcased how his family and childhood home influenced and forged his path as a designer. This documentary is must see viewing for any one that has an appreciation for the iconic design house that single-handedly revolutionised fashion through the New Look, and managed to endure successfully as a brand long after its founders sudden passing sixty years ago. It was a lovely tribute to say the least, and an unexpected but welcomed gesture bestowed upon patrons after the screening by our hosts, ACMI,  included a few samples of Dior perfumes to enjoy. A nice touch indeed.

The next stop on my VAMFF to do list was the Royal Exhibition Building to attend the premiere David Jones Gala runway in order to get a firsthand account of what to expect this season. I had never attended this runway event previously and unlike the other runway shows this was a little longer in terms of duration. Featuring the largest designer lineup of the festival, the showcase was rich in content, perfectly setting the tone of what we can expect to find in stores this Autumn-Winter for consumption.

Highlighting the talents of both local and international designers such as Thurley, Camilla and Marc, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Scanlan and Theodore to name but a few, the show itself was a pulsating, visual treat set to the live performance by Paul Mac. Personal highlights and looks to steal for me this season included the gorgeous lace ensembles from Lover , Thurley, Alice McCall, Manning Cartell and Nicholas. I was also partial to the beautiful winter inspired florals from Camilla and Marc and the vibrancy of the Russian Doll inspired garments from Carla Zampatti. And to cap off the evening a new issue of Jones (David Jones in house magazine) was duly handed out to patrons for further inspection that would no doubt assist in sales.

Next on my must see was e-tailer Next UK’s Australian launch runway, featuring the lovely Rebecca Judd and Samantha Harris. Next Australia’s lineup was fun, affordable, on trend but most importantly totally wearable. Featuring mens, womens and kids wear my favourite featured items again would have to be their lace offerings which I found to be easy to wear for everyday and would no doubt be kinder on my purse.

In a similar vein as Next Australia, Myer’s in store runway was also good value. The second floor walk ways of the Bourke Street store were converted into a runway, giving all patrons both seated for the event and those who were actually shopping, a delightful peek into what is currently in store for purchase. Joining Myer ambassadors Jennifer Hawkins and Kris Smith on this merry go round parade was also Tim Robards, he of the Bachelor Australia fame which delighted many of the patrons in the crowd. And to add to the fun we were also gifted with a deluxe sample bag of goodies to road test which is always a bonus.

Concluding the spectacle of all the runway events I, along with my sister who was my partner in crime for the duration of the festival, also spent some time taking a leisurely wander about the VAMFF Plaza enjoying all the food and live entertainment on offer, as well as popping into the Priceline beauty salon where we were both treated to a wonderful makeup and hair styling session by the generous ladies at Priceline. A perfectly lovely way to end this adventure, until next time. ​




Shoes glorious shoes

As I ventured into town over the weekend I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit giddy. I was about to have a behind the scenes tour of the National Gallery of Victoria, but more specifically a behind the scenes tour and talk of their shoe collection. 

The talk was a part of the VAMFF cultural program and although the festival is less than a month away it was the perfect prelude to it. Lead by our ever so knowledgeable host, senior fashion and textile curator, Katie Somerville, the points of discussion centred around the meaning and cultural significance of the shoe and why they are considered an important element within the realm of fashion and textiles. 

Since the talk was slated for only an hour the shoes open for discussion was a small but carefully selected sample that the gallery has amassed over the decades. Some of the footwear presented I had seen before at previous exhibitions the NGV hosted over the years but others I had not, and felt very privileged to witness some amazing shoes that were not only so fragile, but so delicately constructed. It was a visual feast to say the least, and since I appreciate anything to do with the history of fashion this talk was right on point.

Joining Katie for this lively presentation was bespoke shoemaker Claire Best who also shared her insights into the design and creation of footwear. Here she shared her history as a shoemaker and presented some of her own shoe designs in various states so we could gain an appreciation of the process. This side of shoe making is something I know very well since my father was also in the shoe trade for over 50 years as both a designer and production manager for Footrest shoes here in Australia, when shoe manufacturing was certainly at its height and on a larger scale. But it was lovely to hear how passionate this young designer was going back to basics and making custom wears for her clients, one shoe at a time. 

Below are a couple of images I was permitted to snap and hope that you, like me, appreciate these rare and beautiful creations. So on that note, all I can say is all hail the shoe!



Fashion Critique – fact or fiction?


The VAMFF has come and gone almost in the blink of an eye and being busy of late I hadn’t had the opportunity to put pen to paper about one of the cultural programs I attended at the Wheeler Centre. But better late than never so here goes.

Fashion Critique – fact or fiction was quite the conversation starter. Drawing on the insights of several prominent fashion journalists that included Janice Breen Burns (Voxfrock), Briony Wright (i-D magazine) and Paris based journalist and author Dana Thomas (Harper Bazaar, Delux, Gods and Kings) the discussion centred on the notion that fashion design is an art like any other however serious critique of fashion seems to be a scarce commodity … just as is the space in which to publish it.

It seems that with the rise of social media, fashion seems to be reduced to a mere photograph that is either liked or disliked, with very little discussion in between. Gone it seems are the days when considered assessments and arguments prevailed in fashion editorials; presenting thought-provoking prose that investigated the who what where why when and how social, cultural and economic factors have driven and influenced fashion over time. It was interesting to hear from these three prominent ladies that have had to adapt to this new form of journalism in order to covey meaningful critique in 200 words or less.

The highlight for me would definitely have to be Dana Thomas who was every bit the polished journalist that was taught to always get the facts right and to uphold an ethical and uncompromised stance. This trait is something that seems to be lost on a wide volume of “fashion bloggers” out in the Internet ether who seem to be driven more so by e-commerce and a misguided sense that the number of likes they receive equals style influence rather than actually presenting something of uncompromised value.

It was an interesting discussion to say the least and I am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the event. For me  it was the perfect way to kick off the VAMFF and I look forward to many more of these types of “in conversation”pieces at future VAMFF festivals.

Celebrating Melbourne and fashion with RMIT

In conversation ... Karen Webster chatting with Graeme Lewsey
In conversation … Karen Webster chatting with Graeme Lewsey

As an RMIT alumna it was my great pleasure to spend this past Wednesday evening with fellow alumni for the in conversation event that was Celebrating Melbourne and RMIT fashion with Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO and alumnus Mr Graeme Lewsey. It was a wonderful insight into what exactly occurs behind the scenes of one of Melbourne’s biggest events as well as shed light on how Mr Lewsey has carved a very successful career in this competitive and creative industry from his humble beginnings as an RMIT design graduate….and just coming off the week that was Fashion Week in town the conversation piece was perfect timing.

It was gratifying to know that my Alma Mater has not only nurtured but launched the careers of many a creative, including entrepreneur Natalie Bloom of Bloom Cosmetics and fashion designer Toni Maticevski who were both in the crowd … with Toni actually helping launch the Alumni’s inaugural digital magazine. It makes me proud to call RMIT my academic home.


It’s all about the eyes

Welcome to the show!

The next stop on my VAMFF adventure was the beauty workshop. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning with coffee in hand as the conversation focused on make-up and the current trends gracing the runway. Affiliated with the highly consumable Shop Til You Drop magazine and L’Oreal, this workshop was a beauty maven’s dream.

Hosted by Shop’s beauty editor Lisa Patulny and the VAMFF’s newly appointed make-up director, Elsa Morgan, this in conversation piece gave the audience a unique backstage perspective on the process of creating the runway looks that were seen throughout the course of the runway series from the ground up.

Joining them on stage were three models and L’Oreal make-up artists that transformed these lovely ladies right before our very eyes as each look was broken down in stages from priming, choosing the right foundation and then building on from that to achieve the desired look. These looks included: mastering the winged eye, playing with bold and eye catching eye shadows as well as showing us how to create a strong brow for maximum impact.

I must say watching these artists in action was inspired. They make it look oh so effortless and while I do love my make-up I have always been fearful of liquid eye-liner. I feel like I can never quite get the hang of it however after hearing that even the experts can get it wrong it gave me a little hope that I too can master the winged eye look just with a bit of practice and perseverance…after all practice makes perfect. And I could do with some practice!

Lisa Patulny welcoming the masses…
Elsa Morgan discussing the finer points of mastering a winged eye…











There’s something about the VAMFF

It never ceases to amaze me. In all the years I’ve been attending the Melbourne Fashion Festival the atmosphere surrounding it is always one of excitement, anticipation and awe. You just cannot help but get caught up in the hoopla that is fashion week. Whether you’re attending runway shows, cultural events, or just stopping by the L’Oreal Powder Room for a beauty consultation and a gift bag, there really is something for everyone. And that is what I love about this festival.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Runway Six show last Friday night and I must say it was a delightful half hour of elegant sophistication presented by the fashion bible itself, Harper’s Bazaar Australia.

Perfectly polished models floated along the catwalk showcasing the talents of Sass & Bide, Yeojin Bae, AG Arthur Galan, Lui Hon, Ellery, Alex Perry and Carla Zampatti. With garment after garment floating along, the collections presented were a succinct edit of each designer’s interpretation of AW14. Stand-outs for me would have to be Yeojin Bae’s razor sharp tailored pieces and Carla Zampatti’s ladylike frocks that would flatter any body. Pretty pieces all round that reflected the elegant flair which we have come to expect from each designers respective labels. A definite highlight in the runway series…

Carla Zampatti - courtesy of VAMFF website
Carla Zampatti – courtesy of VAMFF website
Lui Hon - courtesy of VAMFF website
Lui Hon – courtesy of VAMFF website
Yeojin Bae - courtesy of VAMFF website
Yeojin Bae – courtesy of VAMFF website

Memoirs of a Fictionatrix

The stage was set. A gilded birdcage stood front and centre. The observers wore jeweled eye masks as a prelude to enhance their senses and as the leading lady took to the stage the masks came off. Welcome to the theatrically inspired world of Mimco’s Memoirs of a Fictionatrix.Image

Inspired by the old world glamour of vintage Hollywood, Mimco’s Fictionatrix runway event did not disappoint. Full of vibrant colour and pulsating energy it was the perfect beginning to my week here at the VAMFF.

As an avid fan and owner of many a Mimco accessory this show was a visual treat to say the least. Every prop presented, whether it was the shoes, scarves, hats, handbags or even the luxe jewels, all were so enticing I had to stop myself from saying out loud ‘I want that and that and that and that!’ as each Fictionatrix strutted the stage adorned with the goods. It was wonderful.

But for now all I can do is step back and process this bit of theatre, give thanks for the treat bag bestowed upon us and consider my next purchase. Because I know that my next expedition at Mimco while it won’t break the bank, it is definitely going to be an expensive but rewarding one that I’m sure will enhance the wardrobe of this Fictionatrix!