It Was My Second Year at AFW, But I Still Had a Few Surprises

what it's like to attend australian fashion week Sangeeta Kocharekar

Last week was my second time attending Australian Fashion Week. I’m POPSUGAR Australia’s Lifestyle Editor, and I attended 21 shows throughout the annual five-day event that takes over Carriageworks in Eveleigh and locations around Sydney.

Though I’d had a crash course in AFW the first year and thought I knew how to navigate it, I didn’t. There were loads of details I’d missed my first time, including a shuttle bus for media to get to off-site locations, PR agencies holding styling sessions ahead of AFW and shows being delayed until influential guests are seated.

Ahead are all the interesting things I learnt from this year’s AFW, if you ever wondered what happens beyond the runway.

Shows Are Delayed For Influential Guests

The wildest thing I discovered was that some shows won’t start until influential guests are in their seats. Two of the shows I attended were delayed by nearly 30 minutes until they arrived.

“She’s almost here,” I heard one person tell the designer’s PR about her colleague, an important fashion person, who was running late. I’d arrived 20 minutes late and had been thrilled to find out the show hadn’t started yet because they were waiting on this person. I sat down and waited 10 minutes until they arrived, and the show started.

I imagine it’s not cheap to put on a fashion show, and so the designer and all parties involved would want to make sure the collection gets eyed by those who can help drive the biggest impact.

Designers and PRs Hold Styling Sessions

Another thing I learnt this AFW was that many designers and PR agencies hold styling sessions where they loan or gift people outfits to wear for the week. I always wondered how well-dressed guests were able to afford all their outfits, so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they’re often gifted or loaned ahead of time. Ahead of Fashion Week, I went to a styling suite with PR agency NAC, which had clothes and accessories from all the brands it represents, and label Third Form.

The PR staff helped me put together outfits, which took the stress out of deciding what to wear each morning during AFW. I also wore clothes I wouldn’t normally wear, like a powder blue suit by Hugo Boss and a matching denim skirt and jacket set from Tommy Hilfiger.

Not All Shows Are at Carriageworks

Some of the most memorable shows are those held off-site. This year, off-site shows included Michael Lo Sordo at Machine Hall in the city, Mariam Seddiq and The Vault House, a secret club behind an unmarked door underneath Machine Hall, and Beare Park at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Bec and Bridge was held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal with the Opera House in the background, lit by golden hour, and Blanca was at a garden at Vaucluse House. My favourite off-site show of the week was Speed at Sydney Aquarium.

First we had drinks and canapes inside the front entrance of the aquarium. Then we were led through the darkened facility to the shark tank where we leaned against the wall as the models walked past. Sharks and manta rays glided above and next to the models as they walked. It was probably one of the coolest experiences I’ll have this year.

AFW provides a free shuttle bus for media and photographers taking them from Carriageworks to the off-site shows. An hour or so before every off-site show, I would ask at the front desk what time the bus was leaving for the venue and then be outside well before to ensure I got a spot.

It’s a Great Opportunity to Meet New People

AFW is a great opportunity to catch up with industry friends and make new connections. It was a great opportunity to network.

I also met so many people just by starting a conversation with them before the show. You recognise faces throughout the week and feel a sort of kinship with them, knowing they’re also being trusted by their employer to attend and have fun, but also bring back deliverables, whether it’s photos, social content or editorial.  

I’m Convinced AFW Will Never Get Old For Me

Finally, though this was my second year at AFW and I saw 21 shows, each was special in its own way. With AFW, I don’t think I’ll ever feel “been there, done that”. At least, I hope I never do. To me, it’s such a fun week celebrating Australian fashion, creativity and individuality.

Related: 13 Street Style Looks From Past AFWs We’d Still Wear Today

Related: The Fashion Trend I Saw in Nearly Every AFW Show

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