While the rest of you were at the supermarket, watching the footy or hanging out the washing on Sunday morning, RiotACT was swanning around the National Convention Centre with 530 aspiring models. We were at the casting for Fashfest 2016, getting a taste of what to expect when Canberra’s own fashion week gets underway in its new September 29 to October 1 timeslot. There were 230 more aspiring models than at last year’s casting. It was big. We’ve put together a list of the seven reasons we found the day absolutely fabulous.
To get you in the mood, here’s a video of the first pair down the catwalk.
7. The music. There was quite a wait in the morning before the catwalk action kicked off, but the toe-tapping music kept us all in the zone, and made every step taken by a gangly teen unused to heels seem more like a strut than the teeter it could otherwise have been. There was music by DJ Hamish Lardi, who has built his profile playing iconic Canberra events and nightlife venues, NeonHoney, a Canberra-based singer-songwriter, and Ashley Feraude, FASHFEST’s official music director, a DJ and music producer who operates under the alias Magnifik. Their energy was echoed in the presentations of the hosts and judges (pictured below, left to right: Victoria Schnable, owner of Victoria’s Models; international fashion photographer Robert Coppa; Andrea Hutchison, former model in Switzerland, currently managing director of HAUS Models, and Fashfest co-founder; Tina Nikolovski, photographer and director of Devoika Models; and ex-Canberran stylist Hayley O’Neill, currently fashion office coordinator at Marie Claire). It was like being at a big party, except it was 11am and everyone was sober. Can’t wait for the real thing, with added champagne and glamour.
6. The shoes. For the young women at the Fashfest casting, heels were not just the best way to show off their amazing willowy figures as they towered over the rest of us. They were compulsory. The models wore heels in all shapes and sizes: from wedges, to pumps and stilettos, from kitten heeled slippers to chunky heeled slip-ons, to ankle-strapped cone heels to slingbacks and cork platforms. There were ankle boots and cut-outs and corset heels too. Given most of the aspirants were wearing jeans and simple singlets or tops, the shoes were where the glamour was, and they were dazzling. My pick? A pair of silver peep-toe platforms with sequins.
5. The hair. It is rare to see so many sleek, long flowing tresses in one room (and I’m including a few of the male models here). There were also some mops of tumbling curls that drew the eye. My pick of the haircuts, though, was a slight variation on the Anna Wintour bob. Its graceful owner looked like a cross between a dancer and a model, and was a standout in the crowd because she was the only one sporting a short, blunt bob with bangs. (We’ve since found out her name is Hannah Miners, she is indeed also a dancer, and she modelled in several Fashfest shows last year.)
4. The blokes. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be a few dozen would-be male models in the mix. They varied between very young and very shy to slightly older, sporty types, who looked like they’d stepped straight out of the gym or off the footy pitch and onto the catwalk. My pick didn’t fit into either of those categories, though. Dressed in black jeans, black suede shoes and a pale sweater, and with shoulder length hair styled away from his chiseled face, he was number 262. He looked like a cousin of the Hemsworth brothers.
3. The chance to gaze at beautiful things for a while (speaking of number 262). Whether it’s art, architecture, gardens, homewares or textiles, I’ve always enjoyed spending time with the aesthetically pleasing. Fashion can fall into this category. The Colette Dinnigan exhibition currently on at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is a gorgeous example of that. The models at the FashFest casting were mostly dressed in jeans, not haute couture, but this allowed their natural beauty to shine through. Watching them meander around together was beguiling. Imagine seeing only the most talented and striking of them strut their stuff in stunning outfits in late September. When can I buy my ticket?
2. The reality TV factor. Entering the Convention Centre’s exhibition hall was like walking onto the set of a reality TV show. I was trying to see the models through the eyes of the judges, watching their reactions as the models graced the catwalk, choosing my own personal favourites, becoming invested in the process, wondering which 100 or so of them would make it to Fashfest, wondering why the handful who didn’t fit the human coat-hanger mould thought they had a chance at all (but applauding them for having the confidence to give it a go, because, well, why not).
1. The mood. Every single woman I smiled at during the morning beamed back with genuine warmth. I saw not a hint of arrogance in the room, which is pretty impressive given how many attractive men and women turned up to vie for a slot, and how much power the judges wield over their fates (they’re taking a few weeks to make their final selections and will let everyone know by the end of June, with rehearsals to begin in July and continue till September; the top and second tier models will be paid, with a third tier gaining hands on training and vital contacts for their efforts; standouts will be used in material promoting Fashfest too). The prettiest woman I saw all day, a slip of a girl in black jeans and singlet with a wavy blonde bob and big blue eyes, also gave me the most radiant smile. You were the highlight of our visit, number 55. Bonne chance (and sorry this blurry video still is the only shot I have of you to publish here).
Learn more about Fashfest at www.fashfest.com.au.