Despite what Andrew Barr and the Lonely Planet would have us believe, Canberra actually is a small place. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, it’s the reason most of us live here after all. I mention it because the size of our population can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to launching a new event. We are small enough to foster a strong sense of community — people are generally supportive, especially when it comes to locals with big ideas — but unfortunately the size of our population also places a limit on the number of people interested in any one thing.
The fashion community in Canberra is tight knit, subscribing to the old adage that everyone knows everyone, or at least knows of them. For many years now our fashion landscape has largely been defined by the institutions of FASHFEST and CIT. Designers, stylists and other creatives have existed outside of these, but for the most part those with the greatest visibility have been aligned with one, the other or both.
This, however, is starting to shift and we are witnessing a movement away from mainstream institutions towards smaller, independent community collectives. There is a growing appetite for intimacy, authenticity and diversity. ‘Real’ bodies, natural beauty, clothes that can be worn during the day time.
Enter Meraki, a new fashion event born from and made for Instagram. Together two enterprising locals, Maryanne and Bianca, have come together to create an event that celebrates fashion, food and creativity. With a focus on young, emerging talent, the event will feature the work of Canberran designers, makeup artists, photographers and other creatives.
With the event just days away, I caught up with Maryanne to find out a little more about what we can expect from Meraki.
Leiden: What sparked the idea for Meraki?
Maryanne: Bianca and I had met briefly once and wanted to properly catch up so we went out for brunch one morning. We were bouncing around ideas and saw that we were on the same wavelength for a lot of things including bringing something new and exciting to the fashion scene. Fashion has always been a big passion for both of us and we wanted to share that with Canberra. Our ideas and skill sets match each others perfectly — we’re literally yin and yang! It’s so crazy that it’s finally this weekend!y
L: The change of pace for FASHFEST has left an opening for a different kind of fashion event. Why do you think it’s important for Canberra to celebrate local design?
M: The world of fashion is always changing pace. With the rise of social media, widespread awareness of ethical fashion and an audience celebrating, if not demanding diversity in their models, it’s important that as a community we meet these changes head on.
This fashion event is unique to Canberra as it’s held on one day in a brightly lit space. There are no flashing spotlights; the show depends on the natural light that the Fitters Workshop allows, emphasising the notion that we’re celebrating natural, youthful beauty. There are also no platforms, some designers even having the models walking barefoot.
In this day and age, we value transparency, honesty and authenticity which is something our show hopes to deliver. When we did callouts via Instagram, one of our questions was to send through photos which showed your personality. Without the pressures of having to walk and an emphasis placed on inner beauty, a lot of people stepped forward who wouldn’t normally, which was so beautiful to see.
Our name itself, Meraki, means to do something with love and soul; so with those values as the underlining themes of the event, local creatives have resonated with us on a personal level. It’s important that we celebrate local design — in particular young, emerging talent.
L: What can people expect from Meraki?
M: An unforgettable experience. There will be food and drinks, live music, installations, a media wall, pop up shop, nail bar — you name it, we have it. Everyone involved is local talent, from the models, the photographers and designers. They can expect an enchanting afternoon celebrating fashion in all its beauty. Following this, their ticket can gain them access to the after party at Kokomo’s.
We just want to encourage and inspire others to live by Meraki and showcase all that Canberra has to offer in the creative space.
The Fitters Workshop, Kingston ACT
Sunday 24 March, 1 – 3.30pm