LA to NYC: #VAMFF visits the US

As part of our brainstorming for the up-and-coming 20th Festival next year, the team here at Festival HQ took some inspiration from the business buzz words, and motivational catch phrase of late, “shared wisdom”. And it got us thinking…with a world-class Alumni of industry figureheads (previous Festival VIP participants and guests) from around the world at our finger tips, let’s take to the skies with Virgin Australia to catch up with some of our old friends, and make a whole lot of new ones, in a quest to join forces, share wisdom and most importantly have a global conversation about all things Australian fashion.

As guests of ‘G’day USA’, our Festival CEO, Graeme Lewsey, and Chairman, Laura Anderson, joined a proud entourage of Australian businesses, lots of suits and some local style mavens to help spearhead a good dose of fashion diplomacy from the front row at LA Fashion Week with the Hon Julie Bishop MP. Festival runway regulars Emma Mulholland and Zhivago stomped the California runway, but we couldn’t help think that we’d really love to bring our VAMFF-style production to show off our great designers in LA next time…Watch this space. The stand out of the night was definitely watching US-based comedian/actor Rebel Wilson, in said emblazed “REBEL” sweatshirt, play it up with “cool-factor” for media and the local paparazzi. If she can do it, so should Australian fashion.

And the following day, after a great exploration of ideas around retail tourism with Visit Victoria’s LA-based team, we quickly discovered we weren’t the only ones enjoying the creative urban transformation of Downtown LA (tip: go check out the district around the ACE hotel and the soon to open BNKR by Australian Fashion Labels), as we literally bumped into Sir Paul Smith himself. Our CEO worked for the legendary UK-based Menswear designer many years ago, so Graeme, we hope you invited him to the Festival!

Next stop, New York City. The Festival took to the pavement, subway and the Uber app (loving the curb side collections in less than 3 minutes) as we caught up with a cast of luminary fashion industry folk. With the assistance of the Victorian State Government’s Mary-Ann Jones, Government Liaison and Business Development Manager, the Festival hosted an intimate drinks event at the quaint Roger boutique hotel on Madison Ave, joined by a number of highlight Business Seminar speakers from the Festival’s past. With them we discussed the industry guests that we should present next into the future – so again, watch this space. As for the journeys of our Festival Alumni, we can report that the amazing Goldworm sisters, founders of 12.29, have been busy scenting Dior of late. We too learnt that our friend Bil Donovan continues to teach and work the art of fashion illustration around the world. Before leaving NYC, the Festival met up with the ultimate fashion icon herself, Fern Mallis who shared her incredible schedule of entrepreneurial endeavour and some of the success evolving from her most recent book Fashion Lives: Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis. To round off an incredible trip, we then dropped into chat to the SVP Managing Director of IMG Fashion, Catherine Bennett (works with our good friends Emily Weight and team at IMG here in Australia) as we together, continue to explore and share ideas on taking great Australian talent to the world.

That’s a wrap on our international endeavour this month. Just remember, it’s all about sharing your combined wisdom and learnings to lay down a future for the next generation.