Entertainment Style Camilla Franks VAMFF’s it up

Camilla Franks VAMFF’s it up

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Camilla Franks in one of her designs.

Glamour kaftans will sweep the runway at Melbourne’s major fashion festival, with flamboyant Sydney designer Camilla Franks staging the headline show.

Franks will bring beachside Bondi glitz to the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, as organisers seek to broaden the event’s national appeal.

Famous for her floor-length, jewelled and printed kaftans, Franks has promised to balance her free-spirited style with sleeker, tailored pieces for autumn and winter.

The designer has a celebrity following (Oprah is among her clientele) and known in Sydney for extravagant parades — she has bused in truckloads of cacti, water features and llamas — but this will be the first time she has shown on her own to the public in Melbourne.

With top-level tickets at $185, the new event — called the Grand Showcase — is aimed at achieving the no-expense spared scale of Paris and New York runway shows.

VAMFF chief Graeme Lewsey said the theatrics of Franks’ parades are like no other.

“The Grand Showcase will bring together world class runway specialists,” he said.

“The Camilla camp is so focused and will pull out all the guns.”

Celebrated Melbourne couturier Toni Maticevski and red carpet frock maker Alex Perry have previously held solo shows at the festival, but not under this format.

The VAMFF, which starts on March 17, will also stage an inaugural plus-size show featuring indie designers, and a parade for emerging secondary school student designers has been added to the schedule.

Mr Lewsey said the major locations hosting shows and seminars — the main runway at the Docklands, Malvern Town Hall in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and the city’s Sofitel On Collins hotel — will be revamped.

“All three precincts will have an injection of new infrastructure,” he said.

“We have invested in to our production capabilities. We are building an incredible stage, and for the 1500 people who are in that runway venue, it is mass intimacy.”