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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

Hayley O'Neill

The questions you are all dying to know the answers to…

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia’s (MBFWA) twentieth year is finally done and dusted, but aren’t you dying to know what really goes on? I have tackled the tough questions as honestly as I possible can, coming straight from the action of fashion week.

Were the models too skinny?

To be 100% honest, yes, the models were very slim (they all ranged from a size 8 to 10). However, they weren’t skinny to the degree that we saw last year at the Alex Perry show (if you don’t know what I am referring to, please Google ‘Alex Perry Eating Disorder’).

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This year we saw healthier models on the catwalk with fuller bottoms and breasts, including this gorgeous woman proudly showing her stretch marks. I use this image not because I want to pick out her flaws, but rather to embrace them, as a woman that has many of her own stretch marks. How relatable was it seeing this body on the catwalk! I personally appreciate her casting, because we should be advocating more models that resemble the every day woman and their beautiful characteristics, instead of them being in the minority.

Which celebrities attended shows at MBFWA?

This year we saw many Australian celebrities sit front row at the different designer shows. Some of the celebrities spotted were: Jessica Mauboy, Bambi Northwood-Blyth, Donny Galella, Nicole Trunfio, Carissa Walford, Rachel Finch, Jesinta Campbell, Lindy Klim, Tim Robards, Anna Heinrich, Nikki Phillips and the reality star bloggers, from Fashion Bloggers TV show, Amanda Shadforth, Sara Donaldson, Zanita Whittington, Margaret Zhang (soon coming to Canberra Centre), Kate Waterhouse, and Nadia Fairfax.

How do you get invited to the shows?

There are four main ways to get an invitatation from a designer to attend their runway show at MBFWA. They are: to either be a family member of the designer, work for the media, be a celebrity, or to be ‘Insta famous’ (have lots of Instagram Followers!). The first three are understandable as MBFWA is such an exclusive event. So exclusive that a lady I spoke to said that it was way easier to get invite to London Fashion Week than to Australia’s!

However, these days it seems to be that being ‘Insta famous’ will not only get you invited to these designers’ shows, it will also get you front row seats. Being ‘Insta famous’ – whether you have earned it or ‘bought’ the likes – seals your fate at MBFWA.

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How do you score a front row seat?

The politics of Fashion Week begin. Runway shows need to have full front rows, but who decides on who gets to sit there? Mainly the public relations agency or department within the designer’s label will decide.

The first priority goes to celebrities; having lots of celebrities sitting front row achieves a higher consumer reach through the media, and consequently, their fans and social media following. For example if you Google ‘Kanye A-Listers’, the part people remember from his runway show was the A-Lister full front row, which included Kim Kardashian, North West, Anna Wintour, Beyonce, Rihanna, Jay-Z…the list goes on.

The second priority goes to fashion teams from Australian magazines like Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Marie Claire. Having a good relationship with the magazines works for both parties. The magazines get to shoot with the latest products from the designer and the designer gets all of their latest products seen by the magazines’ readers.

Priority then goes to people who are ‘Insta Famous’, buyers, family, other media and so on.

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What happens backstage?

Before you will be able to access the backstage area, most of the crazy shenanigans will have calmed down (or so you hope). Backstage is where everything happens – from models having their hair and make-up done by the most talented artists in Australia, to the models having 30 seconds to change into their next look during the actual show.

Back of house is definitely where all of the action is at MBFWA and is probably the most stressful part for the designers all week. It’s where the designer will either make it or break it.

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What do I wear to MBFWA?

‘What will I wear’ is a question we ask ourselves on a daily basis, but it takes on a whole new meaning during Fashion Week. When the who’s who of the Australian fashion industry will be attending you want to look the part.

Loving my @corr_blimey_fashion skirt for @jaysonbrunsdon @mbfwa show #MBFWHC #mbfwa #alwaystrending #cbr #hercanberra

A photo posted by HerCanberra Team (@hercanberra) on

My tips on planning outfits for MBFWA are to wear:

  • Australian designer labels. You can’t go wrong with wearing Australian labels to the Australian fashion week shows. Even better, wearing Canberra designer labels such as Corr Blimey, The Label and Karen Lee will set you aside from the rest of the guests. You’ll be able to see all three of these designers at Canberra’s very own four-day fashion event, Fashfest, from 13 to 16 May!
  • Comfortable, yet stylish, clothes – especially shoes that you’ll be able to wear all day. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing high heels then wear runners or a stylish pair of flats.
  • Accessories that make you stand out. Having that unique pair of shoes, statement clutch or eye-catching necklace will instantly enhance your outfit and get you street-style photographed.

This year Sunglass Hut had a pop up store where you could loan out a pair of the latest designer sunglasses to wear all day in return for a selfie and an Instagram post!

What to pack in your bag at MBFWA? 

It is vital to pack your bag well, as during the day you may attend more than eight shows, one after another. You must make sure you have plenty of the essentials such as band-aids, Panadol, wallet, phone, water, mints, phone charger (don’t stress too much, though – charging portals are provided), deodorant, notepad, camera, and – most importantly – your credentials. You need your credentials to scan and print out all of the tickets to the runway shows you’ll be attending for the day.

Remember you’ll be there all day so will need to pack some make-up (powder and lipstick) to keep you looking amazing all day long.

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How do I get photographed by the street-style paps?

Stand out and make a statement. Be bold and be bright, but most of all be you. Don’t dress for how you think they want you to dress but rather dress for the best version of yourself. Paps don’t want to see people dressed like other people, they want to see originality (and designer brands don’t hurt either!).

So, there there you have it – the eight most frequently asked questions about MBFWA answered. If you have a question still unanswered please comment on this post below and I will get back to you!

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Hayley O'Neill

Hayley O’Neill is a Canberra based fashion stylist and fashion editor for HerCanberra. Hayley works as a freelance stylist at Westfield Belconnen and Woden and began her career styling for The Work Diaries blog. Hayley has lots of experience dressing real people with every size, age, budget and body shape. More about the Author