Monday, June 17, 2024

Adelaide Fashion Festival – Designer Diaries

TAFE SA Student Runway

There’s a ton of excitement and hard work that goes into producing a runway for a premier fashion festival.  One of the highlights of all of the Australian fashion festivals is the student runways. With Adelaide’s Fashion Festival on last week, we asked TAFE SA Fashion Design students to keep a diary of everything involved in organsing such an amazing showcase of design.

Tilly Leighton organised the runway of 2nd and 3rd year TAFE SA Fashion and Design students, that included one of her own pieces. Tilly is In her final year of the Bachelor of Creative Arts  (Fashion) Course  and on the organising committee for the Adelaide Fashion Festival TAFE SA Showcase. She is writing a blog on her graduate collection.

Final year Bachelor of Creative Arts student Georgia Farese had her garments showcased in the couture section of the show. Georgia is also a winner of the Australian Wool Education Trust grant.

Here’s what it’s like for these amazing creatives, from beginning to end: the nerves, the last minute scrambles and the joy…


 Organising the Runway Show
Tilly Leighton

 2 Months Prior – The Beginning

A low-key catch up over coffee, I meet with the creative team to discuss all ideas weird and wonderful. It is here I am introduced to Adelaide stylist Mia Gambranis – my mentor and right-hand woman for the creation of this parade.

The Lead-Up

We meet weekly to ensure everything is on track, and the show begins to evolve. These meetings take place in the café at TAFE and involve a variety of people (and coffee orders) across the process. As a student showcase, it is my responsibility to get as many entities on board as possible; fashion designers, millinery designers, event management students, hair and beauty students, photography, music and even catering! Everyone wants an input to this show, and we couldn’t be happier with the overwhelming support.

TAFE SA Runway prep for the 2018 Adelaide Fashion Festival

The Week Before

Fittings, pre-style and all things organisation! This is a huge process with over 20 models and 80 looks between them. With our dream team in full swing we manage to fit, style and photograph every outfit in one day. Images are printed and I get to work on the running order.

The Week Of

Monday calls for a final meeting with the entire team. We run through the workings of the show and any last-minute requirements, followed up by emails, emails and MORE emails!

Tuesday is all about prep, prep, prep! Shoe allocations, finessing the final run sheet, bagging and boxing. I spend the day ticking all the boxes to ensure an easy transition on the show day.

The Day Before

Final fittings, a drop-out model and a last-minute couture garment addition – you’ll never be fully prepared for the curve balls of the fashion industry! In a mad dash to Lincraft, I was off to buy fabric to make another black tutu (a complimentary feature of every couture garment in our show). Handing over to my fellow design friend Georgia, she got straight to work at the sewing machine while I continued with the organisation process.

TAFE SA Adelaide Fashion festival runway preparation

The Night Before

As the clock struck 7.30pm, I was the only person left at TAFE. Tired, hungry but totally organised, I decided to call it a day. Time to get some beauty sleep!

Show Day

Rise and shine, its go time! Pony-tail extra tight, coffee extra hot, and styling kit in hand; I am en route to TAFE for a very last once-over before the garments are picked up and taken to the festival grounds.

11.30am – As the garments are loaded onto the truck and whisked away, I begin to realise how real this is getting. With T minus 7 hours until show time, it’s time to head to the grounds.

12.30pm – Models begin filing into hair and makeup, led by our very own TAFE student team, as I meet with the production team to ensure all aspects of our show are on point. Everything, from AV screen content to music selection has been produced by TAFE students and it’s my job to make sure all ends meet.

BTS Rehearsal and Pep- Talk for the TAFE SA Student Runway at the Adelaide Fashion Festival

TAFE SA student runway Adelaide Fashion Festival 2018 - spec sheet

1pm – Prep time! With the help of our incredible backstage volunteer team, the bump-in and organisation of our garments runs seamlessly. Every outfit is finalised with a spec sheet, and triple checked to rule out any potential issues that may arise when the chaos begins.

2pm – Rehearsal. Models are called into line-up and I dash out to the runway for a final lighting, music and choreography check. With only a few minor tweaks to be made, I can already envision how professionally the show is going to play out.

3pm – Can I get a minute? With the volunteer team backstage steaming the garments, it’s finally time to take a breather. Off to the Beauty Bar for a quick hair and makeup re-touch, I enjoy my first meal of the day – a free coffee and macaron courtesy of the McCafe pop-up stand!

5.30pm – Let the madness begin! As models begin changing into first outfits, energy levels are running high. In an ocean of models, photographers, volunteers, garments and what seems like a million pairs of shoes, I try to keep a level-head – it’s not over yet.BTS 2018 TAFE SA student Runway, Adelaide Fashion Festival2018 TAFE SA student Runway, Adelaide Fashion Festival6pm – The countdown is on. Doors open, guests begin seating and – uh oh… buttons begin falling off! Needle and thread in shaking hands, I frantically take to repairing any damaged garments. This is where my three years in Fashion Design comes in handy.

6.30pm – Showtime! I pump up the team with a quick pep-talk and excitement is overtaken by nerves as the opening advertisements begin to roll. Not only have I styled this entire show, but I also get to see some of my own designs walk down the runway for the very first time. For many of the models, this is their first time walking, so they share my nervousness! As the first girl hits the runway, I let out a sigh of relief. The countless hours of work that has gone into producing this show has paid off and I know that from here, it is smooth sailing.

Modern Modest Fashion - TAFE SA Runway - Adelaide Fashion Festival 2018Category Wool - TAFE SA student runway at the Adelaide Fashion festival 2018TAFE SA student runway at the Adelaide Fashion Festival 2018Designer Diaries Tafe Student RunwayPremier's Design Award Showcase, TAFE SA Runway

7.30pm – We did it! Hugs all round and tears of happiness, there are really no words to describe the feeling of finishing a successful show. As I quickly duck out to chat with friends and family, my amazing backstage support team begin packing everything away.

8pm – Cheers! After pack down and bump out, it’s straight to the bar for a well-deserved cocktail. A fruity concoction of sunset coloured liqueur – almost as pretty as the fashion itself, we celebrate in true Adelaide Fashion Festival style!

Follow Tilly on Instagram


Showing on the Runway
Georgia Farese

4 Weeks Prior

Create a ‘bodice’ that incorporates specific couture techniques- this is our brief. This is totally out of my usual design comfort zone, however there’s no time to waste as AFF is just around the corner! My design is inspired by the 1940’s bishop sleeve, however, I want to give it a modern twist- using 100% silk organza and adding an exaggerated ruffle neckline and beaded shirred cuffs.

TAFE SA student runway - Adelaide Fashion Festival 2018

Week Before

The grind is on to finish the garment! This consists of many days of French seaming and many late nights beading to get it done! I go to bed night after night dreaming that I am still beading.

The garment is completed and handed over to Tilly and the AFF team for fittings and pre-styling for the runway. 

BTS Tafe Runway Adelaide Fashion Festival

Day Before

I receive a dreaded text message from Tilly “We need another tutu ASAP”.

This is NOT what I want to hear… but there’s no time to stress. Tilly literally runs to Lincraft to get some extra tulle and another friend and I manage to pull ourselves together and whip it up by the end of the day (thankfully!).

Show Day

3:30pm  Feeling inspired by the Acler masterclass talk (not to mention their amazing outfits) I race home to start getting ready for the TAFE show. Shower, hair, makeup. I will stop there but we all know it takes a small village to get ready for any event! 

Georgia's design on the left and Tily's design on the right behind the scenes at the TAFE SA

5pm Major wardrobe malfunction- brand new white top, is conveniently no longer white! 5 minute panic attack before pulling myself together… opting for a simple white t-shirt, black flare pants, some heeled boots and lastly my staple leather jacket.

Georgia Farese BTS Tafe Runway Adelaide Fashion Festival5:30pm My friends and I arrive at the Torrens Parade grounds with just enough time to take in all the AFF madness prior to the show. I’m also able to catch up with fellow students and share our excitement about soon seeing our garments on the runway for the first time!

Georgia Farese & friends AFF 2018

6:30pm – The runway begins. Feeling overwhelmed that I’m about to see my garments on the runway for the first time!

It’s such a surreal moment. As cliché as it sounds, it definitely is like a dream come true.

I’m so surprised by my initial reaction! The garments look so much better than I envisioned. The styling is incredible. I can’t get over the beautiful millinery head piece that compliments the overall look so well.

7:30pm – Runway finished. The feeling of relief washes over me once the runway is over! All the hard work and stress has paid off and it’s truly rewarding seeing a garment I’ve designed and made myself, grace the runway. Now it’s time to de-brief with all my peers and share our excitement together over a few (too many) cocktails!

Follow Georgia on Instagram



The TAFE SA student showcase featured designs in four categories. First, the Modern Modest Fashion collection,  a collaboration between students from the Islamic Fashion Institute of Indonesia and TAFE SA. Next Wool, including five TAFE SA winners of a national wool design competition. Third, Couture, which included Tilly and Georgia’s designs. And finally Athleisurewear, the category from which the winner of The Premier’s Design Award was selected.  Two students tied for the Premier’s Design Award. Belinda Piovesan and Matthew Reith shared a cash prize of $1000 and the opportunity to participate in an industry mentoring program that covers all aspects of the fashion industry.




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