Melbourne’s diverse fashion scene is once again taking centrestage across the city. Now in its 29th year, Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) has unveiled its official program – and it’s packed with runways, pop-ups, industry talks, exhibitions and more.

From October 23 to 29, the week-long celebration of emerging and established local design and fashion will feature more than 300 participating designers, as well as 300 retailers involved in more than 100 free and ticketed events.

This year’s theme, For Curious Hearts, is all about the collective spirit of creativity that drives people across the industry, including those working behind the scenes. Leading the charge is Ayesha Madon, the actor and musician from Netflix’s wildly popular Heartbreak High reboot and this year’s MFW ambassador.

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The last few years have seen runways take over unexpected spaces throughout the city (such as Queen Victoria Market’s Dairy Hall and the State Library Victoria), and this season is no different.

Starting things off with a bang (or splash, rather), MFW will open with a pool deck runway at the Le Meridien hotel rooftop, showcasing a line-up of celebrated Melbourne labels like Bul, A BCH, Collective Closets, The Social Studio and Joslin.

Fashion, art and performance are coming together for one night at the Regent Theatre, where Moulin Rouge! The Musical is currently playing – expect familiar names like J’Aton Couture, Jason Grech and Mariam Seddiq. First Nations talent is being spotlit (and illuminated) at The Lume’s exhibition Connection, while an underground showcase of designers – including Clothing the Gaps and Erik Yvon – are showing in an abandoned industrial garage. The popular Student Collections Runway is back celebrating the next wave of young, innovative designers, and established labels like Aje, Bec & Bridge, Ngali, Leo Lin and more will be walking down 101 Collins. And the closing runway? An empty office space atop 120 Collins Street, with designs from Arnsdorf, Oroton, Blanca Studio, Chris Ran Lin and more set against a backdrop of Melbourne’s skyline.

This year also marks the debut solo runway of Brunswick East fashion label Strateas Carlucci. Known for gender-fluid tailoring, the team will showcase a collaboration with Future From Waste Lab, an initiative turning textile diverted from landfill into renewed garments. Plus, there’ll be three free pop-up runways across the city’s streets and shopping destinations that everyone can get around.

There’s a lot happening beyond the runway, too. Dive deep into topics like the circular economy, what a fashion career in VR, AI and gaming could look like, or how to track change at three industry-led talks at the Wesley Place Business Hub, courtesy of Creative Victoria. You can also pop by five fashion capsule exhibitions showcasing the works of local designers, weavers, artists and stylists before heading to Emporium and QV – the event’s newest hubs – for a range of masterclasses and giveaways.

And it’s not Melbourne Fashion Week without the popular Vogue American Express Fashion’s Night Out, returning to the city from October 26 to 29 with free in-store experiences, exclusive discounts, live entertainment and more.

Melbourne Fashion Week runs from October 23 to 29. To see the full program and get tickets, head to the MFW website.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the City of Melbourne.