One of the many things we are so lucky to have in Melbourne is a fantastic calendar of events, particularly those supporting the world of art and fashion (OK let’s be honest we have a great food event scene too – but for the purpose of this story let’s stick to the arts).
I will never forget the first fashion show I ever attended (I will equally never forget the first fashion show I ever volunteered at – but that’s a whole different blog post), it was like being transported into a completely different world filled with glamour, entertainment, distinguished guests and of course some breathtaking fashion.
But while as guests we generally only see the seamless final product – the story behind it has much more to it.
So, what really goes into putting together the perfect event?
One girl who knows all about it is Shelley King, Marketing Executive at Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Shelley is not only the quintessential professional but also a fan and supporter of the Melbourne events scene – she knows what works, what doesn’t and what it takes to create an event people will continue talking about.
I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Shelley to discuss all things events, fashion and the journey that lead her to every fashionista’s dream world.
How did your journey into events begin? Was that always your interest/passion?
I have always loved the arts from an early age, I’m a true creative left-hander. I grew up with a passion for music, dance and visual design. I began working in advertising with an interest in communicating to audiences in new ways.
After studying my Masters in Arts and Cultural Management and understanding the added value the arts can have in our lives it was great to align this with my passion for marketing.
My decision to work specifically in Festivals began in my final year of university where I was the Festival Director for Cinefest, a 3-day film festival produced by students at The University of Melbourne.
It was probably the craziest few weeks of my life, I fully immersed myself in the process overseeing everything from programming, marketing, on boarding sponsors and the production elements. It was an enormous success and broke an 11-year attendance record – I thought to myself ‘I’ve found my niche’!
I want to work in marketing for festivals and events.
After finishing studying, I worked as the Marketing Coordinator for the Melbourne International Film Festival and I’m currently the Marketing and Communications Executive at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.
How did you become involved with VAMFF?
I’ve always admired the festival as Australia’s largest fashion event, it has great credentials and brings together the best design talent. I always found VAMFF a very innovative brand, constantly pushing the boundaries with how they interact with audiences physically and digitally.
I had previously worked at VAMFF’s creative agency and fell in love with their entire program from fashion, arts, business events and more. I’m passionate about the convergence of art forms and was particularly interested in how they explored all facets of fashion which combined all my interests.
This was the next career progression for me to continue working in the festival space. I love working on large scale campaigns with a group of passionate people to achieve a unified goal – it is really inspiring to see it all come to life.
While often people think it all just ‘magically’ comes together, I’m certain most events are planned months if not a year in advance – what does that process look like?
I wish! It is actually crazy how much planning goes into a festival. Since I’ve been working full time in festivals my life revolves around the ‘festival cycle’, when it’s on it is definitely my favourite time of year.
It really does take a full year to plan a festival, there’s so many moving components between different departments from sponsorship, programming and production to bring VAMFF together.
From a marketing perspective, this includes writing the strategy, planning the advertising schedule, working on the campaign shoot, planning for tickets on sale, posting live at the runways then evaluating the success of the festival.
Which events have been your favourite to be involved in and why?
I had the pleasure of working on the 65th Melbourne International Film Festival, attending the Opening Night seeing the arrivals of VIPs from the Australian film industry and watching a MIFF funded Australian Premier film with 2,000 people was a pretty special moment.
The most rewarding part of working in Festivals is seeing the campaign take over the city, people interacting with your brand and crowds of people lining up to attend your event.
What do you think it is about Melbourne that makes it such a great canvas for events/festivals?
I love Melbourne so much!
I believe this city has so much to offer locals and tourists right on our door step, you just need to dig deep enough to unearth our culture.
To be ranked the most liveable city 7 times running is pretty impressive.
Whilst festivals have always played a predominant role in Melbourne, it’s continuing to evolve at quite a fast pace which can be attributed to a growing passion for young audiences to have new live experiences.
Art is part of the fabric of our city, you can find it hidden in our laneways or through major events that take over the city, it’s embraced in so many ways.
Coming up to ShowTime what does your schedule involve?
You have to be on your ‘A-game’ every day. I always start the day with a list or setting out my priorities. They say to always do the most challenging tasks earlier in the day which would usually be working on the program and set aside specific times to respond to emails.
Each day is a constant juggling act between meetings, print deadlines, ticket sales tracking, liaising with partners and suppliers or being onsite working through venue signage…and a lot of coffee – No day is ever the same!
What is the next event we should all be excited about?
I’ve got my eyes on The Dior Exhibition at the NGV. I love seeing fashion in different forms and the exhibition space is the perfect place to display this. I would recommend checking out the Friday Night Series for live music and some drinks.
And of course, the most important fashion event in the calendar; VAMFF 2018 which will run from 1- 18th March we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline so watch this space!
Fashion Images courtesy of @LucasDawsonPhotography