Set against the exotic backdrop of the Hasti Bala Bar in the Carlton Club, Fashion Connect took place on Thursday 13th September hot on the heels of MSFW. The colourful cocktail soiree united people of all ages, genders, and sexualities for a night of fun and frivolity with a cause.



The jungle safari themed bar provided the perfect party environment, with lush ferns, purple leopard print wallpaper and a huge elephant’s head protruding from the wall—but that wasn’t the only elephant in the room that night. In addition to Fashion Connect’s emphasis on networking and connecting designers, stylists, photographers, bloggers and lovers of fashion, the event also had a deeper meaning—to raise awareness of HIV and Aids in Melbourne.


With proceeds going to the Aids Trust of Australia, host Stephanie Ryan Smith said, “HIV and Aids is still a problem that’s prevalent in our society, and it’s a bit of a forgotten cause…[we’re] talking about other diseases quite comfortably, but HIV and Aids is something that people are less comfortable talking about. So tonight is about creating awareness… feeling free to talk about [HIV and Aids], and celebrating the advances in medical science, which allow many people living with the disease to live full and happy lives.”



The overriding theme of the night was drag queens, so colourful characters like Gemma Sparkle roamed the elaborately decorated room dressed as beauty queens with sashes reading ‘Miss Transsexual.’ They served drinks, took photos and mingled with the fashionable crowd including Melbourne designers Anthony Capon and Aron Katona, milliner Peter Jago, and performing drag queen Mama Crass, along with a bevy of models, bloggers, stylists and fashionistas.


With delicious canapés, Chambord and Finlandia cocktails, the flamboyant crowd partied the night away. With countless colourful characters and outrageous outfits, competition was fierce for the best-dressed award – which included a MAC make-up gift box valued at over $1000 and a Polaroid Instant Camera valued at over $150. Entertainment was provided for all by DJ Kitti pumping out lively beats, and a performance by drag queen Mama Crass, who got her kit off for the outrageous show.


The quirky Mama Crass said fashion means “showing flamboyance and your own personal style.” Fashion Connect is “for a good cause, and anything that helps the gay scene is a good thing. I think its good to get people from different backgrounds together and have a bit of acceptance, and under the guise of fashion and originality I think it’s a good thing.”


Wearing Blade Runner inspired eye make-up, designer Aron Katona explained the importance of Fashion Connect. “I absolutely love it. I think it’s an amazing opportunity to meet people in the fashion industry.” His hot tips for spring and summer are “pastels! [Also] look out for metallics, stars and neons… And don’t forget to reinvent yourself, because that’s what fashion is all about… people come and go, but creativity never dies.”

About The Author

Claire Story is a freelance fashion, culture and lifestyle writer based in Melbourne. Claire studied at Melbourne University, graduating from a Bachelor of Arts in 2010. She then went on to study a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Editing and Communication) at Melbourne University, which she completed in November 2011. Since then she has started a career in journalism regularly contributing to Fjorde magazine, Karamel magazine, Balance Online, Broadsheet, and Couturing. Her interests are fashion, culture, nightlife and music.

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