It never occurred to me that I would one day be a slave to something at my own free will till I started volunteering at fashion shows.
I was never the cool kid. I didn’t know about exciting events, and way back when Facebook was a mere platform to keep connected to the ones you love and people you have met, there was little chance of you finding out about all these things that cool kids do unless you have connections or heard it by word of mouth. Otherwise, you remain out of loop and only become aware there is such a thing as becoming a Fashion Volunteer when said cool kid blogs about it and then it’s already too late, and you tell yourself, “It’s okay. There’s still next year,” And when next year comes, you have to discard your grandiose dream of steaming garments, tying laces for models, zipping up their clothes and praying that there will be no wardrobe malfunctions on the runway because God knows it is definitely your fault, and to do it free of charge – because you had to spend that week catching up on school work before prelims or something equally academically important. (Wow what a rant!)
So since I have had a lot of free time on my hands ever since graduation and I know fashion is what I want but I never got to seriously pursue it when I was young (something to do with Asian parents, or in my case, dad, being overprotective) I decided to devote all these precious free time to build my experience and learn as much as I can from the industry.
For the past 4 months or so, I have volunteered at about 4 events. The first time was of course, the most exciting, because I didn’t exactly know what to expect. It was for the Myer Perth Racing Cup with Angie McGivern and Sarah Revell. I learnt about shoe taping (very useful lesson especially as a budding stylist), steamed clothes for the first time in my dear life, saw how it was to organize the racks and the accessories for shows, and met some really nice girls. There was adrenaline as we got ready for the runway segment and an even greater rush when the models needed to change into their next outfits. I learnt from here how important it was to be organized, focused and most importantly, helpful – because sometimes things can go a little awry especially when the ratio of volunteers to models is disproportionate.
The Styling/Dressing team – photo taken from here
I guess I had such a wonderful experience from my first time that I yearned for more. I also grew more confident about the flow of operations and what was expected of me so I signed myself up to assist the STM Fashion Stage Team and LuxeBar for the Beaufort Street Festival 2012.
This time round, volunteers were also required to do front of house duties like preparing for the goodie bags and greeting guests prior to the runway show. It was really a lot of fun this one, particularly because it was a festival so the atmosphere was great! During our break, we got to walk around and bask in the celebrations. Also didn’t hurt that we could bring home the remaining goodie bags which by the way, were so awesome because it contained movie vouchers so my boyfriend and I caught Celeste & Jesse Forever starring the adorable and super cool Rashida Jones for only half the price!! (That’s my bargain queen personality talking, please excuse me).
By now, I was indefinitely bitten by this whole volunteering bug. I won’t deny, it can get a little stressful minutes before the show or during the show itself and you start to feel tired even in between (also to think that you are not paid – kinda makes you feel like just walking out) but it is worth every single sweat and stress if you love fashion. Also a nice way to make new friends who share the same interest and passion as you!
I was so involved and eager to volunteer again that I went to bed early on New Year’s Eve and sacrificed any New Year’s Day celebrations so that I could spend some time with Teagan Sewell at the Ascot Racecourse for the annual Perth Cup Swimwear parade. This time though, volunteers were paid $50 each! Wow, right?? It was a nice gesture, but truth be told, I would have still done it even if it were for free (definitely sold my soul to this industry).
For this show, the girls and I got to be slightly more involved – we got to paint props! We were tasked to dot umbrellas but there were tons of other props too. I was so nervous because it’s been years since I last held a paintbrush and also because I am kind of a perfectionist so my dots had to be really round and black!! This show was styled in many different categories – it was brilliant! There were themes like beach fun, safari, monochrome and tropical amongst a few others.
Bottom two images from here
And then there was Perth Fashion Festival, or PFF. Well, ok no. Not exactly. PFF doesn’t run till September. It was the Western Australia Fashion Awards or lovingly known as WAFAs, which is managed by the PFF team. I had always wanted to volunteer for PFF ever since my first year in Perth but I always miss the cut off date but not anymore, thanks to the awesome WA Fashion Volunteers page which advertises any fashion-related opportunities including internships and also for major events like LMFF (L’oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival).
I got to know of this gig through Angie, whom I worked with on my first volunteering adventure. Volunteering and getting yourself out there also means building networks – and in a competitive industry such as fashion, networking is very, very important (just like how only the cool kids knew of such happening events back in the day). It’s a way for you to stay in the loop.
This time round, I wanted to reallyyyy throw myself out there and absorb as much information and experience as I can like a dry sponge. So I offered to help out at the fitting session – which is basically when the stylist (David Brittain) decides what gets to be featured on the runway and who will be wearing them. It was another eye-opener for me, and all too exciting as well as I get more acquainted with the labels as opposed to possibly not even knowing them if I had just came on the event day itself. I’m actually a tiny bit proud to be able to name WA designers such as Ae’lkemi, Kim Barton, Garth Cook, Tindale, Steph Audino, Martini + Coz and … you get the picture.
The WAFAs itself was a glamorous event and it was riveting to see it all come together. I wanted to gain more experience in the front of house department but was sent backstage instead because I had attended the fitting session and was possibly of more help there (come to think of it … not really. The PFF interns were very competent – they didn’t need me). No regrets however, because I got to work with super awesome girls once again! In fact, one of them I met at my very first show too! The backstage duties for the WAFAs was a lot different than the rest though, because there was no outfit change! Phew! So, to be honest, it was kind of a chilling session with newfound friends.
With my model, Gemma Jones. I thought she was really friendly when I first met her at the fitting session (: I also thought of how dwarf-like I am next to this beauty.
Pimpin it up with Sewellery necklace – I was really curious to know how it feels around my neck! Well, what do you think?Sascha – the friend I made from my first show. We’ve been in touch since then. Ah, the joys of Facebook.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my detailed journey of being a fashion volunteer thus far. I have yet to come across thoughts on experiences like these so I’d decided to share them with you. If you are passionate about fashion, it is definitely something that I would recommend just because you get to learn new things with each event. Hopefully through this I have inspired some of you to throw yourself out there and not be afraid to try new things alone, or even to not mind sacrificing some time to do things for free because the experiences you get is worth so much more than that. (: