#2014AFF: Behind the Seams

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Located in the gorgeous venue that is the Richmond Hotel, Behind the Seams was an intimate question and answer panel with some of Adelaide’s top bodies on the fashion scene.

The well-established people on the panel were Paul Vasileff, designer behind Paolo Sebastian, Kelly Noble, founder and editor of Glam Adelaide, Melanie Flintoft, director of Australian Fashion Labels, Bec Cochrane, the Adelaide Fashion Festival’s official Makeup Director, Helen Jansson, Principle Lecturer of Fashion at TAFE SA, Lucy Iansenzaniro, the Adelaide Fashion Festival’s Hair Director on behalf of Kevin Murphy, Tania Debono, founding director of CAKE Social Media and THEWRITING and finally, Anna Vlach, the Fashion Editor from the Advertiser. What a list of names!

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The afternoon began as guests were greeted at the entrance by festival coordinator and lady behind the label Couture+Love+Madness, Christina Tridente. The Richmond Hotel was dressed in gorgeous sheer white drapes, candles, flowers and twinkling fairy lights, setting the scene for a beautiful afternoon at the AFF. Guests were treated to complimentary glasses of champagne and delectable canapés consisting of aranchini, beef skewers and fresh dips to name a few. People milled around chatting and taking their seats before the speakers took the stage.

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Once the show started, each speaker was asked a number of questions which they answered thoroughly and entertainingly. Towards the end, guests were invited to take part in the Q&A and stand up if they had a question for one of the influential people on stage.

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So engaging the speakers were that the Q&A ran a little over time, going for approximately an hour and twenty minutes of informative speaking. Now, I’m a person who is very easily distracted and doesn’t often attend Uni lectures as a result, but not for one minute of this time did my mind wander.

I could transcribe all hour and twenty minutes of the talking I recorded, but to save you readers some time I’ve complied a list of the top three tips I took from the event.

ON INTERVIEWS AND INTERNSHIPS:
Interviews can be pretty horrible, as people have usually made their mind up about you in about thirty seconds. To make a good impression though, it’s important to interact with the people working there from the moment you enter the building. If your’e waiting to be interviewed, it’s important that you’re interacting on a personal level. As Anna Vlach said, ‘The person working at the reception desk, they’re not just the receptionist, they’re the door to the business. They know everything that goes on.’ So make sure you say hi to the receptionist!

There are two thousand young people wanting the same internship or job opportunity you’re after, and it’s important you’re not quiet and you stand out from the rest. You need to get in there and want to do the work and not be afraid to ask for jobs. Anna Vlach thinks it’s super important to have a positive attitude, make eye contact, smile and talks back when spoken to. Helen Jansson believes time is a big thing. She thinks it’s important to be on time, but not too early because you have to understand fashion is a very busy industry and people don’t have time for you to be rocking up half an hour early.

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ON STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS:
None of the esteemed spokespeople on Sunday were just handed the jobs they work in. They all worked hard to get there they are, and if they couldn’t get there with what they were doing they created their own jobs to make it themselves. Talia Debono quit her job at the Advertiser to go to Sydney and apply for a bunch of jobs she had no experience for, simply because she believed she could gain success through helping people with social media. Paul Vasileff moved to Milan to study fashion in order to gain vital experience and contacts to get ahead of the competition when creating his own brand back in Australia. Kelly Noble worked day and night seven days a week to attend all the necessary event and edit all her photos and upload them before everyone else.

Tania Debono thinks that if you truly believe in what you’re doing and there’s passion in your work, it will drive you through. Don’t doubt yourself because that’s when success drifts further away. Even though she hates the word haters, she knows that haters are going to hate but it’s important to keep going because anyone who’s successful and anyone who’s great is going to have those negative people behind them. It’s good to use the negativity to keep going.

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ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
As Tania Debono put it, social media is a very powerful tool. By using social media you can create yourself a brand, and use that brand to promote yourself, your work or other people’s work as a form of advertising and communication. You don’t need money to advertise a brand anymore, if you’re smart with social media use you can advertise practically for free. A blogger or social media personality has a connection with their audience and their followers, and they’re more likely to check out a product than if they just see it on a billboard.

To create yourself a brand, or to find the correct social media personality, Kelly Noble had some good advice. You must be consistent with the content published, for example people follow fashion bloggers to find out about the latest trends. If they started posting photos of their new baby all the time, while there might be a market for that, that’s not the market that’s currently following them. By being consistent with the content posted, a social media account will gain a following based on people who are interested in that and it will grow.

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A designer’s account might post on a variety of topics, runways, photoshoots, the latest trends, events. These kinds of accounts are based on the lifestyle of a designer, and they can chose whether to incorporate themselves into the brand by taking selfies and including pictures of themselves in there or stay separated from their brand. If they chose to incorporate themselves into the brand, it can be very hard to separate themselves if they ever want to take a break or start a family, which Kelly Noble found out the hard way. When she tried to step back from her brand at Glam Adelaide, people were constantly wondering where she was, so much so that she eventually gave up and returned to run the brand she started.

Overall, the event was an incredible chance for everyone to mingle with some of Adelaide’s most creative people. Each speaker did a wonderful job of engaging the audience with their stories and advice, and the questions asked were relevant and interesting. It was a window into what it’s like to be (literally) behind the seams in the fashion industry.

Journalism student, with dreams of writing about fashion, music or culture. Or maybe all three, who knows.

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