Shantelle Jackson – Australian Fashion Week

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Shantelle Jackson is studying a Diploma in Fashion Design at TAFE and has been invited to attend Australian Fashion Week to gain work experience in the industry and see how a major event operates. She will be working four days, 8hr shifts and will be assigned to a designer to dress models and get garments ready to parade.


What duties/tasks/responsibilities will you perform at Fashion Week?

I will be allocated an Australian designer and will be working as a Dresser backstage for them.

I will be allocated a model and garment rack, which will have the garments the model will wear on the runway. My duties will be to check any faults of the designer garments, prepare garments by ironing/steaming, have garments in running order, ready with shoes and accessories.

I will dress my allocated model and direct models to catwalk entrance, so they are ready to go out onto the runway.

How long will you be attending, and where will it be held?

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runs from Monday 30 April to Friday 4 May. It is held at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney. This is right next to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, at Darling Harbour.

I will be working for four days of the event, (Monday to Thursday; 8 hour shifts).

Why were you chosen above other members of the class?

Our teachers encouraged both the Diploma and Cert 4 fashion students to apply to work at Fashion Week. I’m not sure as to who exactly applied.

What was the selection process?

I had to register with Miro Door, which is a company that assists you to find employment and work experience, in the Fashion, PR & Event industries in Australia.

I had to provide a resume and outline of experience and achievements in the fashion industry, as well as a photo of myself and cover letter that stated why I would like the opportunity to work at Australian Fashion Week.

I was selected into the final round, where I then had to provide what days I was available to work. I was then one of 400 people chosen to work at the event.

Will anyone be going with you?

Only my partner will travel and stay with me. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is not open to the public; only exclusive VIP guests can attend the shows. The guest lists only include fashion magazine editors; such as Vouge, journalists, buyers; such as David Jones, celebrities and social types.

The fashion week shows are invitation-only, and each designer is responsible for the guest list to their own show.

Who will you be working for?

I won’t know who I will be working for until my orientation day. There are 12 shows running each day, so I will be able to meet and work with a large range of people.

Is it work experience, work placement or a paid position?

It is volunteer work; I don’t get paid or get any assistance with travel or accommodation.  However, I think it will be a ‘money can’t buy experience’.

Are you expected to report back to the class?

We didn’t have to apply for Australian Fashion Week as part of our TAFE course, nor do we need any sort of work experience for our course.

We as fashion students were encouraged to apply, as it is a great experience, great exposure and fantastic for our CV.

I will definitely be updating my fellow students and teachers on all news from Fashion Week.

Which designer will you hope to meet/work for?

I would love to work for Lisa Ho; her style is similar to mine, and it would be amazing to see her work backstage. Whitney Port from The Hills & The City is also showcasing her collection for the first time in Australia. I would love to have the opportunity to see her and her work, as I follow her shows.

What are you most looking forward to?

Learning the whole process and seeing the work that goes into running such a huge event.

Meeting the designers and their teams. Being up close and personal with their garments, before  the public has even seen them.

Are there any opportunities for you to take advantage of that other people might not be privileged to? 

It’s not every day you get to work right next to some of the biggest Designers in Australia. It is a huge advantage, as you never know what opportunities you may be presented with. I have known of mentors who have worked at these events and were offered internships and further work experience with the designers at their companies.

It will be an event where the best of the best of Australian fashion will all be in one place. You never know what might come of one single conversation.

Is there anything else that may be of interest to the public or those looking to enter fashion courses at TAFE?

I have always dreamed of following a career in the fashion industry, but I always pushed it aside.  I thought nothing could ever come of it, seeing I lived in a small rural area, where there don’t seem to be many opportunities in the industry. Finally last year, I took a step towards that dream and enrolled into a Cert III of Fashion Design & Technology at Kempsey TAFE.

In just 12 months, I learnt and achieved so much and was encouraged by my teachers to continue my studies to Diploma level in 2012. Now it’s not even half way through the year, and I’m on my way to work at Australian Fashion Week. Two years ago I would only dream of this opportunity; I never thought I’d actually be living it. I hope I can inspire fellow people in our area to follow what they have always wanted to do, because there are a number of fantastic resources and mentors around that can assist them.

I have to show gratitude to both Kempsey and Port Macquarie TAFE campuses, as I wouldn’t have the opportunity I do now without their assistance.

Is there any relation between what you are learning at TAFE and what is being practised at Fashion Week?

Yes, absolutely. One of the core units in my Diploma is learning how to plan, organise and run a fashion show. We are in the process of organising the runway show for all fashion students at Port Macquarie TAFE, to showcase their garments at the end of the year. We have been sourcing venues, models, hair and makeup etc, as well as producing run through sheets and a program.

It will be great for me to have an insight into how some of Australian’s best designers run their own fashion shows. I’m sure I will learn a lot in Sydney that I can bring back to assist the development of our own show.

Thanks Shantelle! Have fun.

This story was published in issue 78 of Port Macquarie Focus 

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