Growing up, my idea of a fashion haul was shuffling through packed coat hanger racks of discarded and unloved clothes at our local op shop. I can vividly recall the time I found a pair of frameless, blue sunglasses in the accessories section at Salvos. I paired them with a stretchy tank top that violently announced the new millennium to anyone staring at my chest in a flurry of squishy ironed on fireworks, and a denim mini skirt complete with frayed edging and a plaited belt.
We didn’t have money to spend on fashion. It was a luxury my mum never saw the benefit of unless we were in need of new underwear or socks. Owning something fresh off the racks was treated as good as gold, except when it was thrown on the sacrificial chair in my bedroom, waiting to be sorted back into the wardrobe.
Fashion wasn’t a necessity, and in this climate of fashion that moves faster than you can say Comme Des Garçons, there’s a part of me that still feels this way about the items I drape on my body on a daily basis.
It is true, that upon reflection, the fashion industry can seem excessive, wasteful and entirely shallow. To compress an entire industry into one sentence, you are essentially paying money for something that will make you feel good in some way. And, generally speaking, the desire to look good can seem pretty fucking shallow in a world where there are so many other issues that we should be lending our attention, and maybe even our wallet to.
A few years ago, we were concerned with ethically made, and fair trade clothing. Now, the industry’s biggest catchphrase is zero waste. In Episode 3 of ABC’s War On Waste, Craig Reucassle announced to an astounded Rundle Mall, that Australian citizens discard six tonnes of clothing every ten minutes. To even contemplate the amount of clothes per day, month, or even year gives me a headache, let alone thinking about what that number must be worldwide.
Of course, fashion hasn’t always been so… well, fast. In the words of Yves Saint Laurent, fashion fades, but style lasts forever. And while that sentiment rings true, we’ve all been conditioned to buy in excess, wear it once, donate, rinse and repeat. People want to spend less, wear more, and keep up with trends that change as quickly as Melbourne’s infamous haphazard weather.
This mentality is, of course, ever-present at fashion week. Influencers are dressed by designers and brands for a one-time event, never to be seen in the same outfit again. Items are purchased specifically for shows only to be relegated to the back of the closet once the cameras have gone, and the hashtags become irrelevant. You can shop the runway straight after the show thanks to a credit card company, but don’t forget that as soon as you waltz out of there with your one of a thousand design, it’s going to be soooooo last season in a few week’s time, if you’re lucky.
And so, perhaps it seems weird that at seventeen, I found myself surrounded by all of this, despite it being the complete opposite to my introduction into fashion. Weirder still, that I persevered, and began to surprisingly like the industry, even though the more I worked, the more prevalent the ethical and moral dilemmas became.
When I think about my place in the fashion industry, I often picture myself with half a foot inside and half outside. I’m not quite sure what it is that I’m standing inside, but I like to imagine myself in a postcard-perfect picture standing across the border of two polar-opposite countries. On one side, conservative, environmentally respectful, mindful, purchasing items that are of quality over quantity, generally vintage or made locally to wherever I happen to be at the time.
Meanwhile on the other side, I’m getting caught up in a monstrous hypebeast culture, walking down to my local fast fashion retailer (I won’t name, names) because it’s easier than paying $300 for a dress, and buying something because it seems cool in that moment, only to never wear it again. Frameless blue sunglasses, I’m looking at you.
Yet, with all this being said, I undoubtedly love fashion. I love observing what people wear and why they wear it. The way you can mix texture, shape, silhouette, colour and cut to bring all the complexities of your personality out into the public eye. How what you wear can say so much about you to someone in an instant. I love the drama (because only God knows that my life is so undramatic normally, I have to get my source of gossip SOMEWHERE), the glamour, the illusion of it all.
Fashion week is, in a way, a moment for the industry to leave all of the questions of ethics and morality behind, and to celebrate what to some people may seem like a complete mundanity, a luxury, not a necessity, while to others, an entire world of inspiration, magic, and creativity.
I mean, after all, I’m not going to a Chanel Show to shop the runway. I’m going to witness the moment the light perfectly refracts off a single sequin, hand-sewed onto a jacket that’s worth more than my monthly income, as a model I will never, ever look like, waifs down a runway covered in hand-picked autumn leaves.
Because, fashion dahhhling.
And so, with all of this being said, I present to you a small, behind the scenes look at VAMFF 2018. From Runway to reality.