‘Her hair was luscious’: Elle Macpherson makes runway return at Melbourne fashion festival

<span>Elle Macpherson walks the runway in an oversized blazer by Aje during the opening of the Melbourne fashion festival on Monday. The last time Macpherson was seen on a fashion week catwalk was for Louis Vuitton in 2010.</span><span>Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP</span>
Elle Macpherson walks the runway in an oversized blazer by Aje during the opening of the Melbourne fashion festival on Monday. The last time Macpherson was seen on a fashion week catwalk was for Louis Vuitton in 2010.Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP

On Monday night, arguably Australia’s most famous supermodel walked the runway for the first time in over a decade, then did it all again two hours later. After QR codes flashed on enormous screens beside the words “shop the runway”, Elle Macpherson, who will be 60 at the end of March, opened Melbourne fashion festival.

Her first outfit was a floor-length brown coat layered over orange knitwear and silk terracotta trousers by Viktoria & Woods. Later, she wore a pale yellow trench coat with matching pants by Bianca Spender, then closed the show in a floaty, black boho dress and oversized blazer by Aje.

At the 8.30pm show, the second of the night, each of her walks was met with light applause. The multi-brand runway shows were the first of more than a dozen taking place this week in Melbourne and also featured designers Martin Grant, Ngali, Anna Quan and Oroton.

The supermodel’s appearance at the Royal Exhibition Building was bankrolled by PayPal, who are sponsoring this year’s event. A representative from PayPal refused to disclose the cost of getting Macpherson (who is known as “The Body”) back on the catwalk.

When asked about Macpherson’s catwalk appearance post-show, podcaster and writer Maggie Zhou said: “Her hair was luscious.”

Zhou also enjoyed the crowd reaction: “I loved how the audience got behind her … It felt like a moment of support.”

Celebrity participation has become a hallmark of Melbourne fashion festival, which is a consumer event selling tickets to see-now, buy-now runway shows. Though a third-row ticket to the event cost $139, the festival is largely snubbed by industry insiders, whose focus is on the international fashion calendar where next season’s collections are showcased to businesses and press.

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The last time Macpherson, who spends most of her time in the United Kingdom, was seen on a fashion week catwalk was for Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2010.

Macpherson’s career has spanned four decades and various professions, including stints as a producer and host of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, alongside a range of business ventures including lingerie and wellness products, and philanthropic work with Unicef.

Winter is the new summer for fashion blockbusters

The most comprehensive exhibition of African fashion ever shown in Australia will open on 31 May, NGV International has announced.

Travelling from the V&A in London, Africa Fashion will feature nearly 200 works of couture, bespoke and ready-to-wear garments, as well as body adornments by over 50 designers, from more than 20 countries. The show examines the role fashion played in the African independence movement and features pieces by Thebe Magugu, Imane Ayissi, Iamisigo, Moshions, Shade Thomas-Fahm and Kofi Ansah. For the Melbourne exhibition, members of Australia’s African community are being invited to share their own stories and images through a public call-out.

Another major fashion exhibition is also coming to Australia over winter. Iris van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses opens at Brisbane’s Qagoma on 29 June. The exhibit will display almost 100 garments by the Dutch fashion designer, whose work is architectural, surreal and darkly fantastical. Outfits worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Björk, Cate Blanchett, Lady Gaga and Tilda Swinton will be shown alongside artwork, artefacts, a model of the designer’s Amsterdam studio and a soundscape by artist Salvator Breed.

Aja Barber’s message for Australians: ‘You have to change your lifestyle’

Fast fashion, colonialism and consumption will be under the spotlight at the Sydney Opera House on 10 March when Aja Barber, a leading figure in sustainable fashion and author of Consumed, joins journalist Jan Fran in conversation at the All About Women festival.

Australians are some of the most avid consumers of cheap fashion in the world. Barber told Guardian Australia these shopping habits “absolutely” reflect the country’s colonial past. “Would we treat fair wages like it was some sort of debate if it was our friends and family fighting to pay themselves so they can eat? No, we wouldn’t,” she said.

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“People need to know that fast fashion isn’t good for anyone. You think it’s good for you because you can afford it, but it’s trashing your planet too.”

Her advice on how to change overconsumption at an individual level is to consider what’s getting your energy and attention. “You have to change your lifestyle. You have to change your social media. You have to unsubscribe,” she said. “Drowning out the things which prompt us to spend … is very effective in habit change.”

Australian fashion’s richest prize goes to textile recycler

Late last month, eBay announced startup Dempstah was the winner of its inaugural Circular Fashion Fund, taking home a prize of $100,000 – the largest in Australian fashion by a wide margin. Dempstah founder Guy Dempster has a plan to build a micro textile recycling plant in Tasmania, although when Guardian Australia asked at the award ceremony, he could not go into specifics about the machinery he will procure to sort and process fibres. His pilot program mechanically recycled 500kg of old clothes into yarn using facilities in China.

The announcement was made just days before the world’s only commercial-scale textile-to-textile recycler, Renewcell, said it had filed for bankruptcy in Sweden. Recycling textiles at scale is incredibly challenging, and Renewcell’s closure casts doubt on the fashion industry’s plans for circularity.

Two runners-up – Rcycl and The Very Good Bra – were awarded $50,000 each by eBay. Rcycl also sends textile waste offshore to be processed and recycled, while The Very Good Bra sells a range of plastic-free bras and knickers, and is working with Standards Australia to establish the world’s first standard for compostable textiles.

Happy shoes’ high-end revival

Described as the “shoe of the summer” by Vogue, Mary Jane ballet flats have been spotted on the feet of everyone from Alexa Chung to Zoë Kravitz, and have made a welcome return to street style in Australia too.

The semi-square-toed shoes are constructed from cloth, velvet or mesh, with a strap across the foot. While they’re being described as “ballet flats” now, if you remember Australia in the 1980s, you might know them by a different name: happy shoes. The affordable fabric slippers were (and still are) sold in Chinatown malls across the country.

Chanel, Miu Miu, Aeyde and The Row are currently selling their takes on happy shoes, while Reformation has five different styles, from AU$465 a pair. Whether the newer iterations offer any more arch support than the originals remains to be seen.