Who sits front row at fashion week is just as important as the clothes

Nobody plays politics quite like the fashion industry – where who makes the front row gets a preference shuffle all in the name of a final seating plan.

The recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Sydney was no exception. One insider revealed a slew of ever-present influencers were moved from the Ten Pieces front row (at the designer's request) at the final tick of the clock to make way for fashion editors, celebrity guests and other designers who didn't like where they were sitting.

But there was some pleasant new additions to the coveted frow this year, including Australian artist Anthony Lister.

The artist is present

"I am here to support creativity and because I'm into fashion and wear clothes," said Lister, who was busy sitting sketching the runway at Alice McCall.

"I'm not about drawing attention to myself. I prefer to blend in with the crowd and do all the watching."

Lister was also scoping MBFWA for his son Kye who is new to the modelling world.

"You could say I'm trying to adjust my son to the waters of Sydney," said Lister.

First times and good times

Peter Morrissey made his Carriageworks frow debut to high-five his friend, designer Michael Azzollini and his racy swimwear line, Azzo.

"It's the first time Jayson Brunsdon [designer] and I have come to a show here together," said Morrissey who said his front row highlight was having Maggie Tabberer at his show back in his heyday.


Actor Alex Dimitriades, who has just wrapped up filming The End alongside Frances O'Connor in a joint UK-Australian film in Brisbane, donned double denim for his front row place at Azzo – cheering on for his buddy of 20 years.

"I own two of his new swim shorts," explained Dimitriades. "It's all about being there for your friend and celebrating the work they've put into the new collection."

Drag queen Sia Tequila, Hannah Conda and Decoda Secret also added a sequined and latex spark to the frow all in the name of friendship.

"The front row should always be filled with fun people," said Azzollini.

"With this sort of show you can afford to keep it playful. It's swimwear. When my drag queen friends showed up I told them I wanted them to sit separately and they did – to entertain the crowd."

Spatial politics

But for every front row invitation, comes a name that drops off the list or gets bumped all in the name of social media hierarchies.

One prominent buyer took to social media to vent his frustration after being moved from the front row to make way for influencers last week. He was rightly annoyed seeing the event is aimed at buyers like him looking to pick up new brands for the online store.  

By Him Melbourne designer Shayne Tino made his first appearance trackside – spotted at PE Nation and Ten Pieces – with plans to debut his line next year as part of the Resort schedule.

"I thought there'd be more menswear and guys here, but it's good to see how they do it in Sydney," lamented Tino, who was travelling with designer partner Effie Kats.

"It's important to be seen…I'm here to raise awareness about my brand while also seeing how these fashion shows actually work," he added.

Fish out of water

Fishbowl food franchise duo Nathan Dalah and Nic Pestalozzi also scored prime seats at PE Nation.

"We started our business at the same time as Pip Edwards did and we're good friends," said Pestalozzi, who swapped food for fashion for a few hours.

"We're about being there for brands that possess our energy and passion and we both began in Bondi." The duo have plans to open their first store in Melbourne later this year.

For the 'gram

Menswear influencers were spotted in droves at Fashion Week, happily mingling all in the name of future collaborations with curated outfits photographed for various clients.

"Fashion Weeks aren't my jam," said Man of Style's Sam Wines, who was spotted outside the Double Rainbouu show.

The science graduate turned model/businessman says being invited to fashion week is crucial for one's brand awareness. A key detail since the chiselled Wines has plans to launch his own unisex sustainable brand this year.

"Once you're established and know people in the industry, I tend to prefer to fly under the radar," he says.

"But there's a lot of great opportunities that come from the week and it's all about the conversations you have before and after the shows too."

The writer attended Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia as a guest of IMG.