“The Cultural Program is a celebration of what fashion is and what it can be,” says Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO, Graeme Lewsey. “It’s entertainment and fashion coming together to cover the full spectrum of what enables creativity."

This year’s VAMFF Cultural Program has 140 events across Melbourne and greater Victoria between February 13 and March 13.

The spectrum of events includes Nixi Killick’s Colour Tribe, which takes audiences on a technological odyssey to the future, and the cute and dog-friendly Teena’s Bathtime: Eau De Wet Dogge, one of 30 free events in the festival this year.

Lewsey shares some of his top picks from the Cultural Program:

Fashion on Film Series

Presented by RUSSHSupported by Val Morgan
With official screening partners ACMI and Federation Square

This year five international films will screen at ACMI as part of the 10-year anniversary of Fashion on Film. “We’ve chosen venues that are cinemas and museum spaces to encourage conversation,” says Lewsey. “Fashion is not just about wearing clothes. It’s an exciting and diverse proposition to watch, be part of and discover.”

Fashion Writing Series

As part of the VAMFF 2016 Cultural Program

“The Writing Series is an initiative developed to support fashion writers and nurture the long-form style of fashion critique,” says Lewsey. “We’ve got two workshops this year.”

In the morning, founder of Voxfrock Janice Breen Burns teaches writers “How To Be a Better Fashion Blogger”. Afterwards, industry leaders, such as the fashion editor of Museum magazine, Matthew Bannister, will discuss “How to Navigate the World of Independent Publishing”.

In addition to these workshops, the Fashion Writing Series runs a mentorship program which pairs fashion writers with leading industry professionals and Buzzcuts; a training program for emerging arts reviewers.

200 Years of Australian Fashion

Presented by The National Gallery of Victoria

“This exhibition has been in development for more than two years,” says Lewsey. The exhibition is the first major survey of Australian Fashion and will be at the Ian Potter Museum until the end of July. “We have a mature fashion industry in Australia and it’s time we own it.”

200 Years of Australian Fashion includes the NGV’s own collection of textiles and designs spanning 120 years; newly commissioned work by Dion Lee; the vibrant knitwear of Jenny Kee; and contemporary designs by Akira, Richard Nylon and more.

Marilyn Monroe

Presented by Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox

The Marilyn Monroe exhibition kicks off with Meet the Collectors. It’s an afternoon of conversation with Monroe collectors Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner. “We want the festival to inform people about what fashion is,” says Lewsey. “To give people a sense of power about fashion.”

The Monroe exhibition runs from March to July in Bendigo and features original film costumes and dresses and accessories from Monroe’s personal wardrobe that have never been seen before in Australia. “I’m particularly proud of this one because we’re not just celebrating the first Australian Marilyn Monroe exhibition,” says Lewsey. “This exhibition was developed by all Australian curators. How empowering is that?”

Block Party

Presented by The Social Studio

The Block Party is a day-long festival of live music, performance, fashion and visual arts. “This is the third year of the Block party,” says Lewsey. “It took us by surprise how successful it was at first. I can’t say much about this one. Credit has to go to The Social Studio.”

Based in Collingwood, The Social Studio is a not-for-profit social enterprise that invests in ethical production and uses fashion as a vehicle for positive social change. Through its clothing label, retail shop and digital-printing studio, it provides training and employment to Australian youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds. “The Social Studio has a strong perspective and voice,” says Lewsey. “What they’re doing with their social position is a really powerful thing, and we’re here to support them as best we can.”

The full VAMFF Cultural Program is available here.

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