The Mercedez-Benz Fashion Festival is making its grand return to our city, so I caught up with Lindsay Bennett, the man behind the MBFF Brisbane magic, for the inside scoop on what’s to come.

What sparked the temporary absence and swift return of MBFF Brisbane?

After 10 wonderful years of supporting Queensland fashion, and a hugely successful 10th anniversary celebration in 2015, it was with deep regret that we announced that the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival would not continue in 2016. The costs of staging the festival [had] continued to escalate and with limited opportunities for increased sponsorship, we were forced to review the financial viability of running the event.

A core group of designers was extremely disappointed when we cancelled, and asked that we reconsider as they needed an opportunity to professionally present their complete collections for Spring/Summer at a consumer-driven event.

During the past year, it was important to reflect on how we could reshape the program within much tighter budgetary constraints without losing its much-loved look and feel.

How has MBFF Brisbane evolved over the years?

It’s all about evolving as an event and about creating new elements that will stimulate awareness for the participating designers. It’s about delivering a program in a way that is fresh, exciting and [that] lives up to the high standards that have become synonymous with the Brisbane Fashion Festival over the past decade.

The 2017 festival will be unique. Scaled down from the week-long event, the refined festival program will run over five days from Sunday, August 27 until Thursday, August 31 and feature a number of high-profile labels.

The iconic Old Government House [will be] the backdrop for the Group Shows; [this] is something that we have wanted to do for a number of years.

The challenge is being able to present a festival that exceeds expectations but still works within tight financial parameters. I believe we have a formula that will see strong returns for our partners, and both emerging and established designers.

Will this year’s festival have a strong focus on supporting local creatives and retailers?

The Fashion Festival is and always will be a platform to support the local industry. The festival is about encouraging audiences to shop local and support Queensland and Australian designers.

While it’s great that we have international chains [here in Brisbane], it comes at a price. It’s estimated that these global fashion brands took close to $600 million out of the Australian retail landscape in 2016 alone. Fast fashion is taking over and our local designers are feeling the strain, which is why it is important that we are returning.

How do you feel the MBFF Brisbane shows compare to their domestic (and global) counterparts?

Queensland has so much to offer the fashion industry! Our local designers have a very unique take – everything is a little more colourful, edgier and has an effortless attitude. There is so much homegrown talent here and the Fashion Festival really helps to shine a spotlight on it.

Australia is the only country in the world where every city has its own consumer-driven fashion festival, and just as bloggers, influencers and online shopping have played a huge part in reshaping the fashion landscape, so have festivals.  The great thing about fashion is that it’s continually evolving and changing.

What aspect of the festival are you most looking forward to?

I take great personal joy when I see cohesive collections on the runway. Our management team, while small in comparison to other fashion festivals, [plays] a vital role in supporting and nurturing new talent and providing a platform that [results in] brand awareness for participating designers both locally and further afield.

What sort of crowds are you expecting for this year’s MBFF Brisbane?

Since announcing plans for the return of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival, we have been overwhelmed with support from designers and the community. This demonstrates that there is a real desire for the festival to return. I have no doubt that all shows will sell out!

What are Fashion Week the do’s and dont’s?

Do: dress up! Fashion is a celebration – create a great look.

Do: arrive early and soak up the atmosphere.

Do: applaud after each designer’s collection.

Do: manage your accessories (no matter how fabulous).

Do: use the hashtags #mbffbrisbane and #ownit.

Don’t: leave buying tickets until the last minute (they go on sale on June 1).

Don’t: let your shoes walk you. And if they are new, be sure to remove the price sticker from underneath!

Don’t: over-share and get caught up in posting every single moment on social media – enjoy yourself!

What is your favourite trend to come out of this year’s Fall Fashion Weeks?

Bathrobe styles are the new trench coat, and a shoulder reminiscent of your favorite ’80s dance flick.

2017 also saw many New York designers adapting to the current political climate in a variety of ways, from power suiting through to political statements.

At Paris Fashion Week, designers took their collections back to the drawing board by redefining exaggerated lines and graphic prints on new-generation trenches with bright candy pink and sunshine yellow.

What trends can we expect to see showcased at MBFF Brisbane?

It’s still very much about colour and prints. Accessorising and jewellery will play a huge part in creating the perfect silhouette.

What inspired the slogan, “See it. Love it. Own it.”?

The core of the Festival’s ethos is about driving retail sales for our designers. See It. Love It. Own It. is designed to encourage audiences to shop local, direct from the runway.

This year, we are taking this campaign one step further and allowing audiences to shop the latest new-season looks straight from the runway.  Following the Group Show, the collections will be available to view (and purchase).  This is an opportunity to not only meet the designers, but be amongst the first to order the must-have pieces.

What opportunities are there for our readers to get involved?

The call will be going out for volunteers, as we need an army of people [to act as] dressers, front-of-house, ushers and drivers. I encourage [everyone] to buy local fashion as much as possible and play a real part in keeping the local fashion industry alive.

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