Each year, fashion lovers across the country congregate around iconic Melbourne spots to see the latest in Australian fashion for Melbourne Fashion Week MFW. And each year, it serves up something excitingly different. For stylist Stuart Walford, there’s nothing quite like watching the city come to life for MFW. “I love this time of year because there’s so many incredible creatives that come together to work on the festival,” he says.
For Walford, there’s a sense of nostalgia attached to the festival as well, as he’s been involved since the early days when MFW took place predominantly in Melbourne Town Hall. Now, with activations and pop-ups all across the city, it’s a whole different ball game.
Walford says the Student Collections Runway on Friday October 27 is one to catch this year (and every year). For the past six years, he has taken on a mentor role in the lead up to the show – a process which begins three months prior. “It’s the most rewarding show for me personally,” he says. Catch Stuart in conversation with 2022 Student Award Winner, Amy Cottrell at M/FW Hub in QV Melbourne at 1.30pm on the day, as they talk about the design process, what it’s like to be a winner and what comes next, plus see an exhibit showcasing the works of alumni student designers running across event week.
This year, gift them a dinner to remember with a Broadsheet Gift Card.SHOP NOW
In terms of his own work, Walford will be styling three shows and two exhibitions, including the 101 Collins Street Runway on Saturday October 28, a celebration of the most prestigious brands in the country. He also leads styling for The Highrise Runway, the closing show for MFW on Sunday October 29. It’s a theatrical show inspired by the corporate world that will take place at the top of 120 Collins Street, a 265-metre skyscraper at the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
The trends to look out for are a big topic at MFW each year, but Walford warns against being too tied to any one idea. “I have a love-hate relationship with trends. They’re important because they upsell products to people, and they inspire people to try something new if you’re apprehensive about fashion,” he says. “I hate trends because it creates a framework to box us in to be cookie-cutter.”
Walford does say he looks to the northern hemisphere to predict what will be heading our way. “Trends trickle down to us much later,” he says. “Fashion is circular, so things are going to make their way past us at some point.”
We asked him to identify what we should be looking out for.
The current financial climate has led to the creation of quiet luxury, a style known for its minimalism and neutral colour palette (earthy tones, beiges, whites and creams). “It’s up to you how you define luxury as an individual. Quiet luxury is all about approaching fashion in a more minimalist way,” says Walford.
Quiet luxury allows the wearer to live in a capsule wardrobe – easily interchangeable and less consumerist. “It’s a really easy and chic way to dress – it doesn’t require too much effort,” he adds.
Filling social media feeds across the world, balletcore is known for its Y2K flair and, while it’s not for everyone, there’s no denying its comeback. This trend favours comfort and femininity; ballet flats, soft pink hues, leggings and tutus are reworked into modern-day outfits.
At this year’s MFW, Walford expects to see models glide down the runway in Mary Janes and loafers instead of stilettos. Plus, feminine touches of lace trims, ruffles and bows are abundant on Pinterest, and this will be no exception on the runway this year.
Say goodbye to impractical clutches and hello to utilitarian heroes. “Bigger is better,” says Walford. The oversized, slouchy style of bag is not only practical, but a fun way to keep your outfit interesting.
If MFW leaves you wanting to get your hands on a large woven Bottega Veneta, don’t stress. There are plenty affordable dupes out there. “Keep an eye out for new labels that you may not have heard of,” says Walford. You never know what you might find.
Melbourne Fashion Week runs from October 23–29. See the full program and plan your visit
Broadsheet is a proud media partner of City of Melbourne.