Undercover Model At Fashion Palette Sydney 2015

Undercover Model At Fashion Palette Sydney 2015

Last week I was lucky enough to secure a photojournalistic assignment as “undercover blogger” at Sydney’s Fashion Palette 2015 and get an inside view of one of the most excitingly creative industries to share with you.


Until recently, if I heard "fashion show", I would have thought glitz, glamour, beautiful people, dreamy gowns, high end fashions and even higher heels… but now I see that it is really more like a dynamic gallery showcasing the collective artistry of a whole range of creative minds and passionate committed individuals


It had never occurred to me just how much extensive planning, scheduling, preparation, time, effort, energy and organisation is required to pull off such a magnificent event. And exactly how big a part creative energy and effort drives the whole show.


This is definitely one of those times when the finished product is so much bigger and better than the sum of the individual parts.


Like an orchestra where the part played by each individual musician is essential to show off and share the beautiful harmony, tones and emotion written into the symphony by the most creatively and musically gifted composers, Fashion Palette is simply yet another example of a creative Masterpiece being played out. From the designers to the ushers, sound and lighting team, backing music, photographers, designer teams, models, hair and make-up, caterers, dressers, PR consultants, event management team (hope I haven’t forgotten anyone), the hard work, commitment, passion and energy is the same – and it is all so essential to the deliverance of an amazing showcase of talent.


So. My first duty as an Undercover Blogger Runway Model, was to attend the fitting. 


Having never been a runway model before at a designer show, I was unsure of what to expect and what was expected of me at a fitting. I rocked up fifteen minutes early, to a room already full and busy with countless other models and designers! There were about five or six different designers sprawled out across a large room, and girls slipping in and out of garments at each station. 


Our mission: To meet each designer and be fitted into an outfit that best fits our body shape and optimally shows off the design, fabric and style.


It took about forty five minutes of constant dressing and undressing to find the right outfits, then we were snapped in the selected outfits for each designer to go on our run-sheets on the day. And then we were out of there! 


After the fitting was over,  I decided to stay and have a friendly chat with Sonya Mefaddi (the woman behind the show! She is literally superwoman this one!!) and asked her about the stress around preparing for a  show like this. Not only is Sonya the kindest and most humble person ever, but she seems to manage her time and stress like an absolute soldier!! She is an inspiration for me for self discipline, dedication, organisation and event management for sure!


Now for the official introduction and bio of the "conductor" of this symphony and masterpiece - Sonya Mefaddi, Founder & Creative Director, Fashion Palette


In 2009 Sonya had the vision to showcase well-known and emerging Australian talent to a global audience. and launched the inaugural Fashion Palette. Now Fashion Palette is an annual runway spectacular in Sydney as well as in New York since 2012, with plans this year to showcase in Dubai as well. Sonya simply chose to channel her skills as art director and talent for design,  with no prior specific experience in the fashion industry, to nurture,promote and grow local Australian designers and their brand internationally. The successful Fashion Palette formula she came up with showcases Australian designers and their collections with a series of unique Australian-themed events including an editor preview, a runway show, a launch party and showroom for buyers to meet the designers. And Sonya is at the heart of it all, fuelling it all with her own unique talent, expertise and endless creative energy and passion.


Days passed. And before I knew it, it was the day of the show! 


Call time was 3:30pm sharp. Girls from all over the globe, timely and well dressed, were arriving on the steps of the Art Gallery of NSW in anticipation for the night.. I have never seen such a large group of fasionably dressed women in my life. And if I were not part of this bundle of women, it is no secret that I would be intensely intimidated by their boots, simplistic styled outfits and perfect posture. As it was I was immensely intrigued and in awe of both their professionalism and genuinely down-to-earth personalities.


Three-thirty struck, and we were separated into two groups of models (hair up and hair down) which correlated with the groups we were fitted with. We entered the large cement framework building, and were escorted by a handful of event volunteers (the ninjas as I liked to call them.. they were all wearing entirely black outfits and they were running, jumping and moving all over the place - the name seemed only necessary!) into a small enclosed fitting room that closely resembled an intimate university lecture theatre all too well..


In this room we were fitted for any of the designers that could not make it on the fitting day... Then the ninjas came, retrieved us, and escorted us to the "official run-through". In which we were taken to the stage where set-up was only in the early progressive stages, and we were then instructed by one of the event managers on how to walk.


Personally, I never knew there was that much variability in a walk? I assumed it was a simple "left leg, right leg" kind of manoeuvre.. 


Apparently there are a thousand different things a model must remember and is told before heading down the runway! i.e there are a number of different walking styles and models will be briefed on the kind of "mood" their walk should hold before they go down the runway, i.e slow, flowing, happy, powerful etc. There are also multiple finales that a model must memorise. Some walks are continuous and some have poses at the end of the runway. Models must always walk directly down the centre of the catwalk on the way out towards camera/audience and media. Models must know where the end of the runway is even when it is unmarked and not obvious. 

eg you might have to curve slightly left at the second white handcrafted marble pole on the left and then turn at the edge of the third tile from the guy sitting in the black shirt.  Then walk towards their right hand side on the way back, out of the way of the next incoming model. 


For a high-end fashion look your shoulders should be right back, and arms swaying/brushing across your bottom! Feet should be almost crossing over, without looking like you are learning to walk! And if you are wearing a wedding gown, or long dress, then there is a horse-like "flick" that you must make in order to not tread on your dress when you tread.  It all sounds very simple, yeh? I agree it "sounds" simple. But when you are mentally preoccupied by trying to remain upright in 9 inch stilettos, and keeping your arms/shoulders back, whilst maintaining general composure (It is so hard no to laugh at yourself whilst being that serious!), either a "power glance" or "soft eyes" depending on what the designer wants the vibe to be, all whilst remembering the above points - maybe not so simple after all. 

That is talent. If you can walk that well whilst wearing 15-30kg dresses, with your sight impaired by goddess-like gold crowns and in exceptionally high heels whilst being focused on by spotlights and the attention of a critical audience - you deserve some kind of medal!! You go girl!


Backstage, the ninjas were all given the name and comp card of a model from both group a. (hair down) and group b. (hair up). Each set of ninjas and their assigned models were given a rack with their clothes on it in order of the showings. I liked to call this rack the "point of retreat" because I kid you not, it was like a battlefield backstage! Running marathons, hurdling crouched people or skipping over rogue dresses and dodging grenades of exploding hairspray! These ninjas helped us get dressed/undressed, slip in and out of different footwear, fix up stray hairs and do zippers and bows where necessary. I never thought these ninjas were necessary as such, UNTIL I had to get dressed into a wedding gown the size of a  small car - then the ninjas became my lifesavers!


Right after the above image was taken, guests started flocking in.. Finding and taking their seats, waiting for the show to commence. I didn't have any free time to use my camera during the show! I would have loved to have had it with me whilst backstage and even walking down the runway! But unfortunately there was far too much commotion going on, and there was plenty of other photographers/media backstage as well as out on the runway getting shots of the action, designs, designers and us girls (and boys!) So you won't miss out on seeing some shots, don't worry!


I remember stepping out for the first time when the people were in their seats, and it didn't look anything like this! All I saw were eyes and faces.. All of which I was sure were waiting for me to fall flat on my face (I had pre-meditated what I would do if that was the case.. I decided I would turn it into the worm or some kind of awesome break dancing move hahaha). And as I walked along the runway, I realised just how long it was! For our walk, we were required to get to the end of the catwalk (no marker, just a collectively agreed upon tile) and then come back on our right hand side. The music helped though! Some of the tunes were rather up beat and fun, and some were incredibly powerful and even as a rookie I felt like I was unstoppable! If someone threw a brick at my head I would have walked right through it with that song on! Or caught it and thrown it right back whilst I was still strutting!


The first look was headpieces by Viktoria Novak.. Beautifully handcrafted headpieces channeling Ancient Gods and Princess Warriors with a romantic, bohemian flare. First, each girl walked individually down the runway, showcasing the intricate designs. Then collectively we had a "herd finale".. ie a power pack stampede of models wearing god-like crowns and helmets. It was liberating to say the least! SO much adrenaline and energy was within that cluster of models - it was fantastic to be a part of ! ... and apparently equally as empowering to watch!



Celebrity milliner to the stars, Victoria Novak launched her label in 2006 and is renowned as an Australian leading bridal milliner. Raised in country NSW, Viktoria is known for her unique intricate hand crafted chic designs. Her designs epitomize elegance, romance and are inspired by royalty, opulence and French Parisian chic. All this, from a designer with passion and love for millinery, Viktoria has established a loyal and continually growing following – one that has seen her notably recognised in 2009 by the Royal Ascot. In 2014, The Daily Mail recognized the name Viktoria Novak as a “top one in her business”. Viktoria’s designs have adorned the heads of a number of celebrities including Sonia Kruger, Rachael Finch, Nicole Warne, Ricki-Lee Coulter, Samantha Armytage, and Jodi Gordon, to name a few. Viktoria has also designed exclusive millinery for US TV Series hit “Reign”, music stars the Veronica’s, Samantha Jade, and internationally renowned hair cosmetic brand Schwarzkopf. Each creation is as individual as the client - unique, masterfully handcrafted and detailed to absolute perfection. As Viktoria states: “It’s not just a headpiece…”


A quick change, and the next designer the "hair-up" group wore was Thomas Lazars unique, feminine and incredible bridal and formal gowns.


THOMAS LAZAR - Official Bio

Where curiosity is married with creativity and gives birth to originality - a sentence that perfectly sums up the art that is Thomas Lazar. Turning pure imagination into reality, Thomas creates one of a kind unique pieces for women who want to be noticed and make a statement. An autodidact designer with an undyingly curious mind, Thomas uses and abuses the finest fabrics and embellishments sourced both locally and overseas.


This one I was wearing a wedding gown! There were only three bridal gowns at the end of the formal flowing, dresses, so I felt very special to be wearing one of them! 


Just a small aside: I only heard about the "horse-trot-like flicking-of-the-feet action required to walk in such a masterpiece after the show finished, but apparently I managed to pull it off anyway!

Next we were dressed in the simple yet elegant, tailored designs by Antonella Ianni. Structured, sophisticated and brilliantly chic!



Sydney based Antonella Ianni encapsulates the essence of a woman in each of her designs. Marrying femininity and masculinity, Ianni plays with textures and exploring the androgynous avenue in an innovative way. Mixing old manufacturing techniques with new looks and styles, creates the magic that is distinctively Antonella Ianni. The label is an expression of both sides to a woman, re-defining sexy. Ianni says: "I believe it's not only what a woman wears but how she wears it, which is the inspiration behind the tailored menswear techniques I have incorporated in my women's range."



Next was the sixties inspired, flirtatious designs by Leona Edmiston. A range of comfortable, classy and feminine items designed specifically for the modern woman.



Leona Edmiston is the unquestionable doyenne of Australian Fashion design. With 30years of her effortless style, glamour and sophistication gracing the catwalks, workplace, red carpets and landmarks of the World, Leona’s signature style continues to dazzle. No women’s wardrobe is complete without a Leona Edmiston ‘Frock’, statement heels, bag or pins - as Elle Macpherson, Dannii Minogue, Jenifer Hawkins and Susan Sarandon (just a few of the loyal fans) will attest. Each season, Leona scours the globe looking for the next iconic prints to grace the collection – whether it be a vintage scarf, artwork, or handprint print dating back to the 18th century - Leona is able to transcend the era’s, colours and designs to make what was once lost, fashion once more. Once printed onto the finest of fibres including merino wools, silk, crisp cottons and Leona’s signature jersey, each print and fibre combined to create perfect harmony in each dress. Celebrating Women, Leona’s careful consideration of all shapes and sizes ensures no ‘body’ misses out on the print they must have. In 2014 Leona was awarded the InStyle

Women of Style Fashion award.


Swimwear followed! A quick change, and we were back out there showing off some fun, Mexican inspired Wild Pony Swimwear. A mix of bold geometric patterns, colourful skull graphics and added flare!



WILD PONY Official Bio

Wild Pony founder Rachel Sandison believes that swimwear should give the wearer confidence and spirit, working with colour, texture and print to deliver a sophisticated aesthetic. Epitomising the Australian beach lifestyle, the glamorous yet wearable collection is comprised of a range of swim and beach wear designed to encourage women to feel sexy and confident with a nod to the 1970’s. Luxurious and comfortable fabrics in ‘feel good’ silhouettes are a regular feature in every collection, with Wild Pony becoming a firm favourite on the Fashion Palette schedule in previous years.


Last but not least, was the incredibly gorgeous designs by Alin Le’Kal. These pieces were nothing short of extraordinary.. some of these gowns weighed almost as much as the models wearing them!


ALIN LE’KAL - Official Bio

Hailing from a family of dressmakers and designers, Alin Le’ Kal was introduced to the fashion game at a tender age. Learning the art of design and garment construction from his Bridal designer Auntie and tailoring techniques from his Uncle, all of Alin’s garments feature flawless construction techniques, intricate hand beading and impeccable fit. Never one to follow trends, Alin’s one of a kind pieces are for women who dare to be different without sacrificing elegance and style. Each and every one of Alin’s gowns is

unique, containing fabrics sourced from all over Europe.



 And that was a wrap!!

There is so much more to fashion than meets the eye…

It is a work of art, a creation...

Whether it be the months a designer puts into perfecting a collection, the hours and hours spent hand stitching an entirely beaded dress, the endless emails and phone calls, the constant stress, guest coordinating, gift packs, model selection and try-outs, organising for media coverage and interviews, hiring HMUAs and arranging for volunteers to make the night run smoothly to venue, music, lighting, everything up to the order the models walk!

And I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to go undercover as a model and get the backstage exclusive…

Special shout out to the Mefaddi sisters for making the whole night possible!



Love and light,
Sjana x