In 3008 Docklands magazine, I talked to Sophie Van Den Akker about what to expect for Melbourne Spring Fashion Week…
Spring is here at last- and Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is the perfect way to kick off the celebrations. As we start to shed our heavy winter layers, this years spring fashion festival brings a touch of colour and excitement to the city, promising to inspire, invigorate, and above all, entertain.
MSFW is now in its 17th year, and has been well established as one of the highlights of the city’s fashion calendar. Showcasing the collections of new and emerging designers, MSFW attracts over 80,000 people each year, bringing the city to life with all the freshness and frivolity of the season.
Over 100 events make up this year’s expanded program. Along with glamorous runway shows and evening events, there are plenty of free activities open to all. The City Square is set to transform into a vibrant hub of music, dance and runway fashions.
Even the experience of shopping is given an extra dose of colour- the Look.Stop.Shop program brings the city’s retail strips and laneway boutiques to life with a series of window displays and in-store installations exploring the theme ‘Taking a journey.’
Leading the festivities is modelling sensation Sophie Van Den Akker- who promises there is plenty to look forward to. “Oh my goodness, there are so many great events,” she says. “The emerging designer exhibition is new to the program, as well as the Look Stop Shop tours. Not to mention the Alpha Salon, which is a treat for the men, with their own specialised style and grooming workshop.”
In her role as the face of MSFW, Sophie will grace the runway each night in the festival’s hallmark event, the Designer Series. Held at the Melbourne Town Hall over four nights, this spectacular runway event showcases the new spring collections from Australia’s finest designers- including some of Sophie’s all-time favourites, like Rachel Gilbert, Yeojin Bae and Green With Envy. “The best part of my job is definitely getting to working with such talented designers, as well as all the up-and-coming new talents,” Sophie says. “That’s something that really excites me.”
Being named the face of MSFW marks the anniversary of Sophie’s first year in the modelling industry. Since placing third in Australia’s Next Top Model last year, Sophie’s classic looks and impeccable poise have caught the attention of designers and fashion editors all over the country. She has featured in a wide range of runway shows, advertising campaigns and high-profile magazine fashion editorials, and her unfaltering professionalism has earned her a reputation as one to watch.
“When you’re younger, you always play dress ups and things like that,” Sophie says. “But for me, I feel like fashion is something that found me. I sort of fell into modelling, and of course looking up to all the other models has been very inspirational.
“I definitely look up to people like Jessica Hart and Sarah Murdoch, I think they’re fantastic. I’d probably also like to follow in the footsteps of Jennifer Hawkins. I think all of them are really great role models.”
Despite being plunged into this new glamorous life, Sophie remains refreshingly down-to-earth. In her downtime, she loves getting outside and playing sports- so it’s fitting that she’s been recently named ambassador for iconic swimwear label Speedo. “To be honest, it feels like I live a bit of a double-life,” she says. “One minute, it feels like I just have the best job in the world, with all the travel and fashion industry events. Then the next minute I’m at home doing the cleaning!”
That mix of glamour and sophistication with the laidback nature of everyday life is part of the creative spirit of Australian fashion. Sophie says the unique style of Australian designers is increasingly capturing attention from overseas, and MSFW gives us a chance to celebrate the innovation and creativity that continue to flourish in our fashion scene.
“Our designers are very fresh,” she says. “We have such a wide and diverse range of styles- everything from hand-coloured printed and painted silks to lightweight wools. We can have a lot of colour, and we can also be very cool with sleek blacks and things like that. It’s all very diverse, and very fun.”
Melbourne Spring Fashion Week runs from September 5th to 11th, 2011 at various locations throughout the city.