Confessions of a Student Fashionista
By Nicolette Petra
Twas the night before fashion week, and across my room,
there were dresses thrown, and shoes strewn;
My closet was raided, my sister’s as well,
But no outfit screamed ‘fashun’ as far as I could tell.
I sat in the mess not sure what to do,
So I went back to my essay which was quite overdue.
When you hear the words Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (or MBFWA for those in the know), the stereotypical images come to mind: the open brick walls of Carriageworks, expressionless models strutting down a runway, the rich and somewhat-famous wearing flamboyant ensembles prepared weeks in advance, makeup and hair done by a professional team, and the finishing touch of oversized sunnies to fend off the paparazzi’s camera flashes. I can safely say my first time dipping my toe into the world of MBFWA last week was far from glamorous.
The Night Before
I started pulling out pieces from my wardrobe. Slowly at first. A crop top, a sweater, a pair of over the knee boots. ‘This will be easy,’ I thought, tossing up whether a red fur coat that looked like something Derek Zoolander would wear would be too over the top.
I stood in a jungle of suede, cotton, mismatched prints and open lipsticks that look more like bullet casings. I was exhausted. I’ve always fancied myself a pretty fashion-forward gal. I love me some retail therapy around exam time as much as the next stressed uni student. But maybe I’m more of an Andie Sachs than an Assistant Emily. What even is cerulean?
In the end I settled on a black top, leopard-print slip skirt, tan trench coat and black stilettos. It’s what the people call classic and what Miranda Priestly would scan up and down before saying, ‘A black and beige look for fashion week? Ground-breaking.’
The Night Of
In my mind, the Cartia Mallans and Shani Grimmonds of Fashion Week were being prepped and primed by entire squadrons in private rooms for the best part of a day before being chauffeured from one show to the next. Not so for your average uni student.
I arrived at my dad’s office a sweaty, dishevelled mess after the twenty-minute dash from campus. This wouldn’t have been nearly as much of an issue had I not decided to make what Julia Roberts would call ‘A big mistake – huge!’ I had decided to wear the top I would wear that night, to university. Too late to change it now, I thought, and got to work on transforming my Hagrid-level frizzy hair into a sleek Posh Spice style. Alas, having only brought my straightener and forgotten product or hairspray, I opted for the half-way point – a flat Arya Stark do, minus the topknot. Good enough tbh.
With just one hour to go, I manned a sink in the public bathroom and set out my makeup. Between slapping on foundation and applying contouring like a beauty vlogger on x2 speed, I had to film parts of my GRWM and add it to the MECOsoc Instagram story (big shout out to the society for giving me the chance to attend in the first place). This wouldn’t have been a problem had I been alone for more than a minute but there seemed to be an endless line of corporate-dressed women of forty to sixty years old ready to catch me talking at my phone like some millennial myth brought to life. “Oooh, someone’s going out tonight,” became equivalent to the uber rider’s “Long night?” cliché.
Final touches: add a red lip and a pair of colossal earrings to distract from a dodgy eyeshadow job, and you’re good to go.
I arrived fashionably late, but thankfully so had everyone else. I joined the end of a line that ran outside the mouth of Luna Park and it was at this moment I realised my Zoolander coat would not have been overkill in the slightest.
The fashion show might have been held at a theme park, but it was the guests that brought the carnival. There were people wearing multi-coloured sequined pantsuits and braving the cold in neon mini dresses, swaggering (or perhaps just attempting to walk upright) in 6-inch platform over-the-knee boots and propping up their false lashes with recently fake-tanned hands. There were Instagram models, up-and-coming YouTubers, and Bachelor in Paradise contestants. One woman behind me even began offering her friends calming lotion. What is calming lotion, you ask? Not a clue, but this was clearly not my crowd.
Once through the doors, I found my friends in the mosh pit – yes you read right, a mosh pit. It was more of a concert than a fashion show and if I needed a sign to tell me I was in the nosebleeds, it was my ‘priority standing’ ticket. And maybe also the fact the ‘priority seating’ guests were watching the plebeians in the mosh from the makeshift dress circle like the well-dressed government officials overseeing Katniss’ training in the Hunger Games.
At one point I asked my friend where the food was. Cue canned laughter.
Strangely, the event did not start with fashion but with musical acts. A total of three acts ranging from alternative to rap-EDM, and two dance numbers reminiscent of X-Factor 2009 later, we were served zee fashun. And much to my delight, it overwhelmingly comprised of beige pieces, trench coats! In true Carrie Bradshaw style, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had actually known what fashion was all along.
We lasted fourty-five minutes of dance numbers and ten minutes of fashion before our feet called it quits. As did a huge chunk of the mosh. There was a mass exodus followed by friends whipping out their phones and cameras to get those perfect pics for the gram. Sure, no one was yelling ‘Who are you wearing?’ but to everyone here, this was the Met Gala and they were the VIPs.
Said friends and I may or may not have participated in said photoshoot.
So, would I do MBFWA again? You bet. I’d love to see one of the fashion shows at Carriageworks where you get to see the fashion up close (and preferably while seated). But the real moral of this story is to wear the trench coat. Heck, wear the red fur coat. Don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. And when in doubt, add calming lotion.