SYDNEY — Jean Paul Gaultier, Renzo Rosso and Nicola Formichetti are flying in for the 20th anniversary edition of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, which will run from March 7 to 13 at a new central show venue this year — the city’s World Heritage Site-listed Royal Exhibition Building.
Gaultier will unveil his collaboration collection for Target Australia on March 9, while Diesel artistic director Formichetti is speaking at the March 10 marketing breakfast. Rosso will talk at the March 11 Business Seminar, alongside 7th on Sixth founder Fern Mallis and Jodie Fox, cofounder and chief creative officer of Australian custom shoe etailer Shoes of Prey.
There also will be 18 ticketed runway shows featuring the fall 2016 collections of more than 200 Australian designers such as Dion Lee, Scanlan Theodore, Alex Perry, Strateas. Carlucci and P.A.M. and the spring-summer collections of Northern Hemisphere brands via shows produced by department stores David Jones and Myer and the Chadstone Shopping Centre. In addition, the festival is nestled within a wider cultural program of more than 70 fashion-focused exhibitions, films and seminars at venues across the city from Feb. 13 to March 13. Exhibitions include “200 Years of Australian Fashion” at the National Gallery of Victoria, the first major survey of Australian fashion, which runs from March 5 to July 31.
The Victorian Government-backed festival was launched in 1997 by a consortium of retailers as a consumer-facing counterpoint to Sydney’s then year-old Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia wholesale trade showcase.
According to a 2015 audit, last year’s event attracted nearly 400,000 attendees, who spent an average of 592 Australian dollars, or $451 at average exchange, on clothing, accessories and beauty products prior to or as the result of the festival. More than 6 million consumers were reached via festival-owned and partner digital channels, a 78 percent increase over 2014. Some 900 runway looks were available to purchase via the festival’s “Shop The Runway” platform, which links to designer/retailer e-commerce sites.