Volunteering At VAMFF

5.4.14

This year I decided to volunteer at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, otherwise known as VAMFF. Aside from being a student ambassador at my university's open day, this was the first time I had volunteered at an event. I figure that while I'm interning - jobless - and an aspiring PR professional, I may as well take the opportunity to volunteer at as many beauty, lifestyle and fashion events as possible because once I'm employed I probably won't get the opportunity to volunteer at such events ever again.

The process begins by filling out an application form on the Event Gallery website and from there you'll be called in for a short interview with the lovely June who is the volunteer coordinator. Then you'll hopefully be chosen out of thousands of applicants to volunteer and be required to attend a briefing.

Before the week of the festival even gets here you'll more than likely be required to attend at least one shift at the Collections Venue, which is where all the outfits and shoes are stored before they are taken to the runway venue. The two items that you are never going to want to see ever again after this shift are shoes and tape. So, here are my quick tips for surviving a shoe taping shift:
1. BYO band-aids - when you're working with blunt scissors and you're a klutz, you are going to cut yourself at least once. On the thumb. While trying to clean off tape glue.
2. BYO scissors
3. Never stick duct tape or masking tape onto your skin if there is nowhere else to put it unless you enjoy waxing - also, duct tape will ruin your life. It ends up in your hair, on your clothes, under your shoes, basically everywhere.
4. Don't feel intimidated by that one girl that thinks she knows everything because she has volunteered at a fashion festival before - most of the other volunteers won't have any fashion experience either, so you're not alone, Cupcake.
5. Use your gut instinct - don't expect to be taught how to tape a shoe, for example. Ask questions if you really don't know how to do something. Ask a style assistant, your head volunteer, your fellow volunteers, anyone!

The two main roles at VAMFF are Back of House (BOH) and Front of House (FOH). Essentially, BOH is dressing models and FOH is dealing with the public. Originally, I wanted a BOH role but now I'm glad that June placed me in a FOH role because she thought I'd be better suited there. BOH is an extremely stressful job because you have to get your model dressed and out in a timely manner and a range of things could go wrong within that process: you could ruin a garment, you could get a piece of jewellery stuck on a garment, you could get makeup stains on a garment, you could be stuffing your model's foot into a shoe that is two sizes too small, etc. FOH, on the other hand, is slightly less stressful and is basically this:
That's right; you're in charge of the goodie bags. Preparing them, placing them nicely on the chairs along with pamphlets and the limited edition VAMFF passionfruit curd by Burch & Purchese - these are your roles on the day of the runway shows. And trust me when I tell you it's physically exhausting when you have to carry boxes of curd and 10 to 15 gift bags up and down stairs especially when you have skinny wrists.Then there are a range of other roles you will be assigned to on the day. I, along with three others, was on door duty - I greeted people, checked tickets to make sure they were at the right venue, directed them, answered questions, made people feel welcome and smiled a lot. Other FOH duties are carrying around trays of canapes, opening the doors and directing people on where to sit, and assisting with clean-up at the end of the show. The most rewarding part about being a FOH volunteer is that you get to watch the fashion show and you will likely get a gift bag at the end along with some extra samples. I sat in on the the Famous For Fashion Boutique Edition show at Malvern Town Hall (a venue that I had also performed at about five years ago).

I definitely recommend volunteering at VAMFF because it is a truly exciting, tiring and valuable experience. You should volunteer at VAMFF if you are an events/PR/marketing student, a fashion student, someone considering entering the events or fashion industries, or someone who simply wants to gain more confidence or experience to put on their resume.