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A peek inside the chaos.
Fashion weeks might appear seamless and glamorous when you’re peering from the sidelines (or from your phone as a digital bystander), but they’re no walk in the park for those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, often months in advance.
For the countless programmers, editors, stylists and designers who make PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival the highly anticipated and renowned event it is, the lead-up to its commencement requires some later nights and some serious resilience and grit as they clamber to the finish line.
But as an official media partner of this year’s PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival (and long-time attendees), the Fashion Journal team can confidently say the chaos that precedes the runway is always, always worth it. For Natasha Veenhuizen, Designer and Director of Melbourne-based label Van der Kooij, preparing for the debut of her latest collection was nothing short of a whirlwind. Below, Tash gives us an exclusive glimpse into her preparation for this year’s Revelry Runway.
Fabric selection
Here’s me, amid the rows and rows of silks at one of our fabric suppliers, ready to choose colourways to add to my new collection. I always start with fabrications first. I’m a very tactile person; fabrics first help me to envision new designs and creations before I contemplate the design phase of a new collection.
Design process
This next part of the process is where structure, shape and silhouette come into being, in the form of freehand sketching. I keep a portfolio full of rough sketches that I quickly draw up whenever a potential creation enters my mind. I always refer back to these snapshot drawings, as they were often formulated by an incredibly raw and dynamic moment of inspiration. I begin to build more detailed sketches from there, considering things like how a fabric will sit and fall against the silhouette of the body.
Our range board. It’s the final curated ensemble of designs selected for the new collection. I love to design a million options, as the design process is the most creative and alluring of the entire process, and I can get carried away in the beauty of all the possibilities. Although, one thing I’ve learnt is that occasionally you have to cull pieces (even the ones you might love) to create a cohesive collection that tells a strong story.
Creating begins. Once a sketch is finalised, we start to draft the pattern and mock up the design in a toile (a substitute fabric) to ensure the fit and design materialise from a concept into a wearable garment of physical form.
Once we fit the toile, we continue to refine and adjust the design and its pattern, ensuring it is precision cut and can be replicated, before cutting in the final fabric. Some of our styles can take up to 10 metres of luxurious silk dupion, so we like to make sure everything is perfect before cutting, not only due to cost, but from a sustainability perspective.
Then we cut and start sewing…
Visiting suppliers
Now it’s time for the finishing touches. Time to visit Jimmy, for our covered silk buttons. You always make us laugh, thank you, Jimmy!
One of the most rewarding parts of the process is seeing the designs come to life on the body for the first time… This one brought a tear to my eye. So much has gone into this design from concept to completion. It feels very surreal.
To me, fashion is wearable art, and in each piece, there is a little bit of my heart.
Finishing touches
Next, we to pop in on Tim, to add a very special new feature to some of our designs. I can’t wait to show you. It’s important to have a growth mindset if you’re in this industry, as things change quickly. This new feature will enhance versatility and wearability of our garments. 
And it’s starting to take shape and come together… Hours upon hours of sewing, hand stitching, pressing, pattern drafting, fitting and love goes into every piece.
Handover day is here! After months of preparation and sampling, we begin to bag up the collection to drop off to the Royal Exhibition Building, ready for the runway.
Casting fitting day
A week out, pre-show preparations are well underway, and its back to the Exhibition Building, where I get a glimpse into the incredible styling team responsible for the production of the Revelry Runway. 
I assisted with fitting the garments on all the beautiful talent. The energy behind the scenes is indescribable. The people power it takes to put on such a big show shocks me. There are just so many creatives working tirelessly to make it all come together!
It’s inspiring to see Australian fashion is being represented and acknowledged in this way, and I am filled with gratitude that Van Der Kooij gets to be a part of it all.
A few last-minute tweaks for alterations to make sure all the garments are perfect for the show on Friday…
And that’s a wrap from us. I cannot wait to reveal the new collection this Friday evening on the Revelry Runway! Also, come and visit me at the Van Der Kooij Studio in Carlton by appointment, if you want to look at the new collection, or just say hello!