Access to Fashion runway event

Melbourne Fashion Week is currently on but before you begin thinking how superficial this might be, let me tell you that we are on the cusp of something special. And this year Melbourne Fashion Week is beginning to reflect this.

We are on the cusp of freer thinking, of becoming more inclusive and celebrating difference. Yes, there have been token attempts at this for a few years by some in the mainstream, and attempts to use difference as shock value by others. But we are finally beginning to see fluid gender, disability and other people who have felt outside the mainstream being included in film, television and the fashion world; not just to celebrate difference but as a matter of course, integrating without fuss or fanfare, just as they do in regular life.

I’m proud to say that I’ve just completed a job as a Melbourne Fashion Week stylist for a runway event of 22 models, all of whom identified as having a disability and/or challenge and all of whom have a strong sense of their own personal style and who love fashion. Some of the models were experienced and others were not, but their commitment to, and excitement around, this event was palpable.

And this leads me to wonder why more companies don’t employ models with difference. With one in five Australians identifying as having a disability, the community is demanding this. We like to see ourselves represented in our culture. The time has come. Just as years ago the public sector worked to ensure their workforce reflected the multicultural community it served, it is time for us to take another step.

I enjoy the escapism and fantasy of fashion probably more than most people do. I’m very visual and I love the way fashion’s images and imagined worlds draw me in. I know that’s what fashion shoots are all about and I never want to see that end. But these beautiful images can be created using people outside of the typical 15-25 years old, white, able bodied, cisgendered demographic. And they will be even more intriguing and memorable.

Unfortunately I was unable to invite you to our runway event ‘Access to Fashion’ because it sold out almost immediately. So yes, there is a demand for this. We have reached the tipping point. Thank you to Carly Findlay who engineered this event and allowed me the opportunity to support this groundbreaking event. We just hope that in future these models will be included in more of the mainstream runway shows.