From March 3rd to 12th, Melbourne will transform into a curated wonderland of near and far fashion. And at last we can be there in the flesh — seeing, feeling, listening and embracing the sensory smorgasbord of creativity, art and clever humans that is Paypal Melbourne Fashion Festival.
There’ll be clothes draping diverse bodies on myriad runways, rich and collaborative conversational panels, a transformative revamp of Federation Square into a full-blown festival precinct, and so much more on the agenda.
Today, we’re lucky (and persistent) enough to catch Paypal Melbourne Fashion Festival’s exquisite Fashion Programmer Chloe Naughton for pre-launch chat, and gauge what unmissable events we must mark in the calendar.
Melbourne is absolutely ready, people are hungry for it
Chloe is a favourite past interviewee at Harrolds, with her endlessly chic outfit inspiration and vast understanding of the ever-evolving Australian fashion industry as a whole. Here, she waxes lyrical on festival trends to watch, ideas for dressing up, and the anticipation of a magical opening Gala Runway in just a week’s time. As always, the pleasure is all ours.
What could you see yourself piecing together for a cocktail-attire soirée at the cinema?
Tell us what your role is within MFF’s planning, launch and rollout?
My role at the Festival is Fashion Programmer. Essentially this means I select the designers and curate the runways. This is however just in a programming capacity. We then bring on an incredible team of creative directors, stylists, producers, and media partners to bring the runway to life. All these elements are part of a delicate ecosystem. We all have to get it right for an impactful outcome and I am lucky that I get to play a role in bringing those elements together.
People often ask what a Fashion Programmer does and while I am a bit of a jack of all trades, we all wear a few hats and constantly help each other out. No one person could do what we do at MFF without the help and support from someone else either in the team or from our incredible family of curators and collaborators. There really are so many pieces that come together to create the Melbourne Fashion Festival. Sometimes I see myself as a facilitator of incredible people in the Australian fashion industry to create something beautiful and hopefully something with a memorable impact.
The other part of my job is looking after some of the festival’s other programs, The Fashion Writing Program, The National Designer Award, and The National Graduate Showcase. Selecting the judging panels, facilitating the judging processes, informing any winner or finalists that they have made it through (honestly the best part of my job), and just going through the entire MFF journey with all of the designers, Judges, Finalists, collaborators, and participants.
What will you be wearing to the opening Gala Runway?
Gala night I am going to be keeping it simple yet elevated. I am very conscious of wearing Australian brands throughout MFF as it’s important to hero local talent throughout the week. This is what I will be wearing to the Gala and I’ll likely outfit repeat throughout the week, too. You will see me in either long dresses or pants/shirt outfits all throughout the festival. I am the biggest sucker for a great blazer with incredible detailing like the new season Dion Lee one which I’ll definitely be wearing.
And what’s special about this debut night?
There is something so extraordinary about debut night. It is a full years’ worth of build-up and hard work, it’s the first outfit for the week, it’s a taste of what’s to come for the next 10 days. Every runway is incredible in its own way but there is something distinct about opening night. It’s a feeling that I can’t fully describe.
Themes and trends you’re forecasting at MFF 2022?
‘That’ Dress – you haven’t been able to wear
The Boxy Blazer
The 90’s — they are back in a big way
Colour and maximalism
Trousers and trainers
There is something so extraordinary about debut night
Your most-anticipated independent runway or exhibition, and why?
My absolute most anticipated runway event is the Strateas Carlucci Solo Showcase at The Timber Yards. It’s the boys Mario-Luca and Peter’s 10th-anniversary solo runway and there are a lot of interesting parts to it that I am so excited about. This is one that I don’t think anyone should miss. A close second would be our runway at Collingwood Yards featuring 18 incredible designers. The runway will be through the courtyard at Collingwood Yards while there will be events and parties all throughout in collaboration with many of the tenants at the Yards.
How will the festival really differ this year, and help Melbourne’s fashion crowd emerge from the ashes of the pandemic?
This year all our runways sold out within a few days. We had no idea what to think or what to expect with the escalating situation around Christmas time with Omicron. It was hard to anticipate the reaction if people would be ready to come together.
Melbourne is absolutely ready, people are hungry for it. It has been a wonderful feeling for the team and the industry. The runways at their core are for our Designers, they are the true hero of the festival and it was just so nice to know that the people of Melbourne were ready to come out and support the Australian Fashion Industry.
This year is going to be the closest thing to a pre-pandemic Festival that we have seen in over three years. In 2020 we were canceled before our final 2 nights of runways, in 2021 capacity limits were so tight we could only fill our venues to 50%. This year with venues at Queen Victoria Market, ACMI Gallery, Timber Yards, and Melbourne Olympic Park, we will be hosting audiences at full capacity.