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Speech by the Governor of Victoria at the Reception for the Launch of the 2020 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival 


First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we are gathering and pay my respects to their Elders past and present and to any Elders here with us this evening.

Tony and I welcome you all to celebrate the launch of the 2020 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, which will run across 11 days, starting on 4 March 2020.

This Festival is renowned as Australia’s largest fashion event. But that description, in itself, does not do it justice.

This is Victoria. We know how to stage an event. Large ones. Ones that add value: to industry and to the economy. But also, more broadly, well integrated within the community.

David Briskin and his Board, and Graeme Lewsey and the staff at the Melbourne Fashion Festival have proven their capacity to do just that.

The Festival theme chosen by them this year, ‘Fashion’s Wonderland’, denotes a joyful celebration of fashion. It sounds like fun. As it should, and as it will be.

But do not be fooled by it.

They have successfully created around that playful concept a vision that will ensure that, as lively and wondrous as it will be, this Festival will incorporate three pillars that the organisers take very seriously.

That is, Fashion, Arts and Ideas.

When it comes to Fashion, in addition to what promise to be stunning runway shows featuring emerging and established designers, there will be award programs for graduate and emerging designers too.

A highlight will be the Grand Showcase. It will honour an internationally celebrated designer who has contributed so much to the fashion industry here and abroad. Known for his exquisitely designed and crafted garments, it is our own renowned and loved, Toni Maticevski.

An emphasis on the Arts will highlight fashion in all its forms, from exhibitions to films and live entertainment performances too.

And the Ideas aspect will see conferences, talks and workshops, featuring local, national and international guests, provoking new approaches, and influencing global trends in fashion, sustainability, technology and trade.

Again, we have been proud to host an industry round-table discussion here at Government House this afternoon.

I am fortunate to have been privy to the sharing of ideas between those at different levels of experience in various parts of the fashion industry. The spirit of collaboration is impressive.

But there remain two elements to VAMFF that I have not properly captured.

The first is the contribution that this Festival makes to our economy, both directly and indirectly.

Importantly, it helps to underpin an Australian industry with a domestic market value of billions of dollars and providing many thousands of jobs.

Equally importantly, last year’s Festival alone attracted more than 410,000 people, many from out of Victoria, and it returned an economic benefit to Victoria of an estimated $6.8 million.

But what I also want to note here is the ‘festival’ part of the ‘Festival’, if I can put it that way.

You only have to spend some time at the Festival hub in the Melbourne Museum Precinct to appreciate the vibrant activation that takes the Festival well beyond the runway. Being Victoria, of course it includes fine food and wine. And there are great events taking place beyond that precinct as well.

We wish the 2020 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival every success. And we thank all those connected with it, the volunteers and all those who contribute to this important sector, for their contributions.

I am pleased now to invite Minister Foley to address us.