Fashfest 2017: A nervous morning at Canberra’s biggest model casting

Serious business – hopeful models strutting their stuff at the 2017 Fashfest model casting last Sunday.

On Sunday morning I was up early, dressed, showered and on the road by 10:00am. While I didn’t have far to go, I was nervous.

It was not the paralysing sort of nervous that usually has me curled up in a ball on my lounge watching re-runs on Netflix to distract myself. No, this was the frenetic sort of nervous. The type of nervous reserved for first dates, public speaking, or the dentist waiting room, manically searching for any task to try to wrangle my nerves under control.

But I had a task already – I had to drive myself to the 2017 Fashfest Model Casting at the National Convention Center Canberra.

Despite the fact that this was the fifth year the biggest open model casting call has been held in Canberra, and my third time attending, I was still incredibly nervous. There’s no other event like Fashfest on the Canberra calendar, and after being involved for four years, it is something that I take very seriously. Fashion is fun and we all love it, but this event is critical to Canberra’s still developing fashion scene, and each element of the multidisciplinary three-night-six-show extravaganza is interlinked and dependent upon one another.

While work for the 2017 shows began literally the day after the 2016, it isn’t really real to me until I’m creeping around the model casting, clutching my camera in front of my face and trying desperately to look like a proper blogger and not like some creep who wandered in off the street for a perv on the models.

The models bring the shows to life, literally.

You can make the world’s most perfect gown, hire a phenomenal DJ to mix you a signature track, and have Anna Wintour personally endorse your new collection – but if you don’t have the right models to show your collection on, you have nothing.

If you’ve never spent a lot of time around models or potential models, here is a brief summary of how it will make you feel:


My god, and frumpy! And like you haven’t even tried to dress yourself. Which of course it does, because these models are fighting for a one-in-four chance to make their modelling dreams come true so of course they bring their A-game. While my major ambition for the morning was ‘try not to look like a sweaty creep’.

What really stood out for me on the day despite just how young the models all looked, was despite the nerves I’ve already talked about, I was feeling so hopeful for each and every model there, and so damned proud for Fashfest and for Canberra. It is always humbling to see so much of our local talent in one place, and it really comes together at the model casting. The excited chatter of the models while they wait to take their first steps down the colossal runway, the fantastic live music performed by local DJs, and of course the panel of distinguished judges sitting at the head of the room.

The four judges on the day were Victoria Schnabl of Victoria’s Models, Andrea Hutchinson, co-founder of Fashfest and founder of Haus Models, Fashfest director of photography Leighton Hutchinson, and photographer and founder of Devojka Models Tina Nikolovski.

I know Andrea and Leighton. I have been working with the Fashfest team for four years now and I know many of them as friends rather than colleagues. I know these people and I trust their judgement inherently and still I am nervous because I know how much they have riding on the 400 registered individuals all vying for a spot on the Fashfest catwalk.

I have watched Fashfest provide hopeful models with their first opportunity experience a fashion showcase of this size and scope, and I understand the commitment that is made by both the models and by Fashfest. We will have to wait for the event to take place on 28 – 30 September this year to see the outcomes of Sunday’s model casting, but for now I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there are better people than I making the decisions that keep the wheels turning and the show rolling on.