MBFWA 2016: Fashion Week from the Other Side

WORDS AND PHOTOS: Reef Gaha | Behind the Scenes at MBFWA 2016 |

As a working photographer, Australian Fashion Week has long been one of the annual events I look forward to shooting most each year. From my early years of furiously attempting to shoot every single runway and backstage, to assignments filing coverage for waiting publications (or in recent years, brands) Fashion Week is more than the sum of its parts…

More than just the hallowed designers and their collections which form the primary focus; more than the models whose youth, charisma and superhuman ability are writ large at every turn; more than the state-of-the-art hair and makeup, the flair of which transforms disparate bands of girls and boys into a unified brethren of follicle and face.

Behind the scenes, fashion week is also a convention and annual ‘reunion’ of professionals from the above industries. Each year, I look forward to seeing and working with extremely talented people it would otherwise be impossible to find under one roof. Running away to join the MBFWA circus once a year means catching up with one or two photographers whose imagery baffles my mind, and being able to observe or even help them work (maybe coming away just slightly less baffled).

As someone whose primary interest in photography has always been the portrait (or more specifically, images of people in relation to the signifiers of our time: art, fashion and music), Fashion Weeks are a joy. Sure, there are those who find matters seemingly so driven by appearance as fairly ho-hum, but that’s missing the point. The hard work, camaraderie and spirit of so many creative and dedicated people are chronicled by this annual event.

To that end, here’s a little photo essay capturing some of that spirit, from a behind-the-scenes perspective. My brief for the past several installments of MBFWA has been hair and makeup driven and no doubt, they’ll receive a fair portion of focus in this album.

Smiling faces and goofy hand gestures may receive much of the rest


The many faces of Fashion Week debutante Olivia-James, a girl so cool, they gave her two first names.


Backstage you soon learn, it’s a brave man who comes between a girl and her snacks…


… and that at any time, Bondi Rescue men may appear to spirit girls away on surboards. Such is the order of things.


Creative disciplines work in synthesis to drive a helix of skill and talent.


At times, the hair and makeup artistry can only be described as flawless.


One distinct privilege of working behind the scenes at Fashion Week is seeing the amazing Redken hair team in action lead by directors Richard Kavanagh, John Pulitano and Philip Barwick.
This year, conspicuous in its absence, Richard’s trademark ‘muscle man mustache’ and quiff. In their place, a look more akin to Richards pugilistic roots.


Regular readers of Caramel Animals will be no stranger to the stylings of Dale Delaporte and the Prema hair team (see https://caramelanimals.com/2015/12/22/life-death-and-dale-delaporte/ for more).


Fashion Week isn’t always about glamour and clamour.

There are also several photographers in attendance at Fashion Week who never cease to astound me with their incredible natural gift. Before closing I’d like to make special mention of Mark Nolan from Getty Images. (http://www.gettyimages.com.au/galleries/photographers/mark_nolan for a small selection)

Mark, a family man and former rugby player, began shooting local football games after hanging up his boots in the 35mm days, before coming to the notice of a sports editor. He’d probably hate me saying this, but there’s something masterful in each of his shots, despite fashion never having been his main focus.

That’s where I’ll leave it for now. I’ll follow up with some show specific image galleries later this week.

Reef Gaha is a Sydney based photographer.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s