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Decoding the modern Ms. Fisher

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Conversations at Melbourne Fashion Week

7 women laughing, one man working at a computer, VOGUE in the corner

Melbourne Fashion Week, November 15 - 21, M/FW Conversations presented by Creative Victoria November 15 - 18.

Melbourne Fashion Week's heart has shifted from the city's elegant town hall to a peppering of runways and pop-up treats in the Royal Botanic Gardens to the gobsmacking Plaza Ballroom, the quirky-fish dim of Melbourne Aquarium, the arty sweep of the NGV Australia and out to a dozen off-beat spots including the Yarra River bank, Rialto Towers, Federation Square, Seafarers Bridge and the MCG's underground carpark.

Creative Victoria will host four panels during the festival, all free and streaming live.

Shifting Fashion's Status Quo. 5pm Monday, 15 November
What's next for fashion? Buying habits and business models: what are the best alternatives?

Does Visibility Equal Power? 11am Tuesday, 16 November
Social media campaigns, runways, photo shoots and media representation: is their impact good or not for those who need meaningful change?

Beyond Greenwashing. 10am Wednesday, 17 November
What's the difference between genuine change-making brands and those who jump on the green bandwagon for commercial outcomes? How do you spot a green-faker?

Online Identity and NFT Marketplaces". 10am Thursday, 18 November
Non Fungible Tokens, digital handbags, avatars and skins: what does it all mean for fashion?

For tickets and full programme: www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/mfw


Cosplay, a fashionable career

"This generation of emerging designers have one foot in the virtual space, the other in (reality) and they're floating like water from one to another...."

Fashion and costume academic Todd Heggie admits his "mind was blown" by students of LCI Melbourne, a renowned art and design academy, when he introduced a Cosplay Costume elective into their Bachelor of Design degree studies earlier this year.

"They jumped at it," he says, "They're already specialising in costume but cosplay is very specific, working with foam sculpting, thermal plastics, LED lights, other types of materials to make accessories and things like form fitting armour that moulds to the body."

Cosplay crafts are used to create the elaborate skins of characters in gaming, pop culture and imaginary worlds. LCI's workshops were initially conceived by LCI dean Karen Webster with the added idea they'd resolve into some spectacular costumes for a real-life collaborative event at PAX Aus, a massive celebration of all things games during Melbourne International Games Week.

"I'd chosen some amazing people (to lead the cosplay workshops)," Todd says, "Lisa Bryant, an alumni of LCI, specialises in foam sculpting and ageing to make it look realistic and metallic, and Maggie Hu from Lumin's Workshop manipulates thermal plastics for armour and garments that mould to the body and use LED lighting with a hidden battery pack."

Students were inspired and firing on all creative cylinders. "Learning some really unique skillsets," says Todd admiringly. "One student, Dara, sculpted a huge dragon that sits on top of a puffa jacket.."

Then lockdown happened. PAX Aus went digital, so did LCI. Todd pivoted, recording Lisa Bryant and Maggie Lumins for digital workshops and posting them online, not only for LCI's design degree students but, in its typically generous approach to creative knowledge, for public access too.

"What fascinated me most after lockdown," Todd says, "Was how the students turned to virtual gaming, not only entertaining themselves by playing games, but to creating avatars and working in the conceptual fashion and wearable art space."

Students switched smoothly between real life and virtual reality. They crafted cosplay costumes inspired by characters in digital fantasy worlds for wearing in real life, and created their own avatars in digital fashion and wearable art designs for animation in the digital world.

"It blew my mind," Todd says. "One (student) created an avatar where she could change the sizing so the person she's pitching her (fashion) designs to can actually see how they'd look in that dress...They're floating like water from (virtual space) to (reality)..."

Todd speculates three career streams have now opened up to students in LCI's unique cosplay skills experiment. "One group, probably the ones who live and breathe cosplay," he says, "Will create cosplay costumes for themselves and offer their skills to the general population as a business."
He says the second group will utilise their new skillsets to gain an edge as uniquely qualified costumers for film and theatre. A third group will work in fashion. "This group, my favourite, will continue to create avatars and design wearable viable tangible commercial products for the fashion industry," Todd says. "It's phenomenal what they can achieve in this virtual world. I'm calling it a renaissance in design and they're little pioneers..."

LCI cosplay costumers will appear in their creations for a series of pop-up "vignettes" throughout Melbourne Central during Melbourne Fashion Week.
Would-be cosplayers can join LCI's digital foamsmithing skills workshop by award winning cosplay designer Maggie Hu.


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