A look back at 11 years of AFF

Did you know that in 2018, AFF turns 11? We can’t believe how fast time flies, and it’s left us feeling a little nostalgic about the festival’s history. 

AFF was established and nurtured by the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters before the South Australian Government’s major events arm, Events South Australia, took on ownership and management in 2015.

From here, the event and our designers were elevated to an international stage as Creative Director Chris Kontos was appointed.

Since, it has seen a vast number of success stories walk the runway.

Cristina Tridente, who has been working with us from day one, now owns Couture+Love+Madness, which walks the AFF runway each year.

In its early days, AFF was a three-day event centred around the traders on The Parade and in other areas of the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters region. In 2011, Tridente was brought on board to further develop the festival.

“When I came on board I was in charge of making [AFF] bigger and better, making it something that would be recognised by the industry, and one of the key festivals in SA,” says Cristina.

The Festival began to evolve, soon encompassing other events in the wider Adelaide area including Unley, Glenelg and Marion. For Cristina, it was important to engage new people and stakeholders to give a stronger platform for up and coming South Australian designers.

“I worked really closely with the Council to engage new people and sponsors. It was all about SA; supporting our traders, designers and local industry, including the food and wine we served, the production and photography,” she says.

By the time the State Government acquired AFF in 2015, Cristina had helped the festival evolve into a key avenue for SA designers to promote their brand and their designs to a national and even international audience.

“[AFF] creates a platform for us designers to showcase what we can do. That’s what we really need; to really grow and be able to compete with the industries in Melbourne and Sydney,” says Cristina.

“One of my favourites memories is hosting the SA Emerging Designer Awards at the Adelaide Railway Station in 2012. Everyone told us it couldn’t be done – and it was the hardest project I’ve ever worked on – but it was one of my highlights.”

Looking back, we can’t help but smile at the successes achieved by local brands.

We think of Acler, who recently launched their resort collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia earlier in the year and have the Beyoncé tick of approval, along with C/MEO Collective from Australian Fashion Labels who has dressed the Kardashians.

Paolo Sebastian, who launched in 2007, quickly became one of the most successful names in Australia’s fashion industry, dressing celebrities all around the world. He was also the first South Australian label to launch a collection in Paris off-program during Haute Couture Week.

There’s also Tiff Manuell, who has showcased her wearable art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and at the Tate Modern Gallery in London.

Can you tell we like to celebrate about their achievements?

But it’s not just our designers who deserve the recognition; a number of models from AFF have since walked for some of the biggest names in fashion all around the world.

Lily Nova (2016) has since become the face of Miu Miu and walked for Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Gucci and more. Adut Akech, who is no stranger to the AFF runway, recently opened the Chanel Cruise collection show in Paris, chosen for the honour by Chanel head designer Karl Lagerfeld himself.

Akiima (2017) has been on the cover of Vogue Australia, and has walked the runway of Maison Valentino, Oscar de la Renta and Victoria Beckham, while other home-grown models like Madison Stubington, Megan Irwin, Emma Macgowan have walked off the AFF runway and on to stellar careers both around Australia and overseas.

What will AFF18 bring?

We can’t wait to see!

What’s been your favourite AFF moment over the past 11 years? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.