Standing outside in the cool(ish) Sydney breeze, outside Gallery 3 at MBFWA 2019, I waited for the doors of the Russell James ‘Angels’ Exhibition at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia to open. Through the partially open window, funky, upbeat music could be heard, and beams of light danced around the room. Buzzing with excitement to attend my first fashion launch party, I held my ticket ready and made my way to the opening doors.
I was absolutely blown away by the vivacious vibe and feeling inside the room, I needed a minute to take in everything and really soak up the moment. The gallery space was at Carriageworks, and located in the middle of the room was the reason we were all there. The gorgeous ‘Angels’ Limited Edition 2018 book was placed on a podium, encased with a beam of light that shone from the ceiling. The book was open, encouraging guests too touch and look through the pages. It was displayed to look like a biblical object in a mystical way, (which in fact I found out later on, was pretty much spot on!). The book was surrounded by beautiful white blooms and further unopened books stacked on top of each other. Above this delicate setting was a projector, showcasing the nude photographs of the stunning Victoria Secret Angels, including those such as Candice Swanepoel, Adriana Lima, Kendall Jenner, Behati Prinsloo and the Hadid sisters. Two more projectors were placed on either side of the room, displaying a series of complementary images. No matter where you stood in the exhibition, you knew why you were there, to view Russell James’ incredible images.
The ‘Angels’ book is limited to only 1000 copies, each signed and numbered, and sell for over $2,500 AUD. It features rare and intimate images of the Victoria’s Secret Models nude, which elevate and celebrate the female form in an artistic manner. When viewing all of the images, a newfound sense of pride overwhelmed me and I could feel the ‘girl boss’ vibe exuding from each image. Even though the models are tiny and toned (BRB running to the gym…), there was a sense of empowerment and self-confidence arising and I felt proud to be a woman at the event.
It was a true fashion week party: there was a DJ to one side and champagne and canapés flowing from all angles. The fash pack were out in force. This was one of the first events for the week so everyone was mingling, laughing and all very bubbly. I was able to spot some influencers and models through the crowds including Allanah Walton (@alannahwalton), Maggie Laine (@maggievlaine), Paige Mary Grace (@paigemarygrace) and Tammy Christina Vahaviolos (@wbywhitewolfe).
To be inside the exhibition, brought about a lot of different emotions for me and there was a contagious energy that elevated the room. I felt very privileged to be at the event, I was slightly nervous and overwhelmed, however I was also very excited to push myself out of my comfort zone and to start talking to the other guests. I was even able to talk to Russell James himself! He told me in order to make yourself known in the industry and to start building yourself up (no matter what you want to do), you have to “keep showing up”. Consistency is definitely the key, and if you want to make yourself recognisable and prove success in your field, you have to keep pushing yourself and do as much as you can. Seize every opportunity and keep showing your face, because eventually one day the people you want to recognise you, will.
Overall, I believe Russell James wanted to create a celebration of the female form and a sense of empowerment, without sexualising the female body in a negative way. He conveys unique and well thought-out images, which emphasise each body in a creative and respectful manner which result in a strong sense of self confidence. I thoroughly enjoyed the night and left the exhibition with valuable advice which I will always reflect back on and use in my life. I also have a new goal in life; to work hard and ultimately reach my own successful so that I too can wear whatever I want (as Russell James wore his trustworthy thongs to his exhibition!).