Brisbane’s best fashion moments are happening off the runway.

Fashion Weeks in general get a bad rap.

They’re often seen as indulgent weeks of pretence where unhealthily skinny models parade down a runway in outfits so overpriced they could feed a struggling Australian family for week.

And maybe it’s true.

Maybe they are a driving force of evil when it comes to bad body image and low bank accounts but, like in all things, there are exceptions to every rule and in this case the exception is Brisbane and its annual Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival.

While the event is flush with amazing local designers ready to show off their wears and special guests strutting down the runway in new season lust-haves, any fashionista worth her salt will agree the real fashion moments happen off the catwalk. The joyful element of street style is that it takes on an individual identity that lives and breathes with a kind of brightness that even the strongest fashion week flood lights could not hope to match.

However, that’s not to say that fashion week events are completely without consequences. It has to be said that for every joyful self-styled fashion photo that was posted to social media following the shows, there were sadder snaps that showed the inferiority and shame felt by some festival goers.

Such as images of the so heavenly-it-hurts Jennifer Hawkins strutting down the runway, images posted to social media accompanied by comments such as “that’s it. I’m never eating again.”

It’s easy to see why a Brisbane audience could feel a little disillusioned. After all, our festival is one of the few high-end fashion events in the country where anybody can purchase a ticket and attend, even going so far as to claim a seat in the usually
invitation only front row.

However, the fact that remains that for the majority of the audience, the sizes available prevent them from actually wearing any of the new season collections. But for most festival goers the week is a source of inspiration and celebration, rather than alienation, because it’s a chance to show off their unique style and propel Brisbane even higher into the fashion stratosphere.

You no longer have to be on the catwalk to create a style moment.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane attendee Ashleigh McCallum was on-hand for the Thursday night group shows and said the event fostered a feeling of comradery and celebration of personal style, rather than inferiority.

“My style is very feminine, reminiscent of a very 1950’s style so super flirty and feminie and I love to play with volume,” she says. “I come to Fashion Week to see all of the emerging designers and to support the established designers. To mix with
Brisbane’s most fashionable crowd.

“I find inspiration from a combination of both the catwalk and street style. I love seeing local designers like George Wu, Jack Sullivan and Paul Hunt and seeing what has inspired their current collections.

“One of the best parts is seeing all the Brisbane fashionista’s rocking their individual styles. I mean, you definitely look at the models and think ‘what if?’ because they are all so gorgeous and legs for days. But really it’s about seeing all the beautiful
people on and off the runway.”

Click through the gallery to see more images from Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival.