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11 June 2021

Camilla wheeling Lisa Cox down the AAFW runway. Lisa wears a camilla design and giant ornate wings.
Lisa Cox and Camilla Franks AAFW 2021

Afterpay’s Luke Dean reached out to me in November 2020, to ask if he could speak with me about how AfterPay could make Australian Fashion Week more engaging for those with vision impairment.

Luke told me that AfterPay were #determined that #inclusion be integral to #AAFW right from the outset.

Although delighted, I told Luke that I felt a genuinely inclusive AAFW will only be achieved with #disabilityleaders being at the decision making tables through out the entire process.

I offered to work with Luke and his team as an Inclusion Consultant; AfterPay were on board immediately. When AfterPay approached Australian Fashion Week event organisers, IMG with the idea, they too were instantly on board and genuinely excited.

Lisa Cox & myself were engaged as the first ever Inclusion Consultants for Australian Fashion Week.

Upon arrival at the venue, the new inclusive elements that the Inclusion Working Group had introduced, were immediately apparent.

We were all on the same page and aiming for disability inclusion that blended effortlessly; with the same #elevated, #desirable feel befitting any AAFW guest.

The moment I walked into the #exquisite, #ethereal world of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week’s closing showcase, my guard went down, my doubts softened and I started to melt into a magical experience that genuinely looked and felt like The Future Of Fashion.

To address what has become the elephant in the Inclusive Room - Indeed, I knew straight away that Lisa would get her #wheels stuck in the divine, soft, magical flooring.

It, of course, was jokingly obvious to me the moment I saw it, that the beautiful flooring was not #wheelchair friendly.

I come from a background of both #fashion and #corporate event management. So, like Lisa, I am very used to the inevitable stuff-ups and all the incredible behind the scenes work that goes into such a massive event.

It was a very #human #mistake and one that played out in a way that #delighted the crowd and frankly provided a beautiful social and corporate #learning experience!

I was #disappointed that the #criticism around the flooring, overshadowed the #groundbreaking steps taken by AAFW. To the best of my knowledge, AfterPay and IMG have created global fashion history this year, by engaging disability consultants to join the decision making table - and that’s worth talking about, #celebrating and #encouraging.

We don’t need things to be ‘perfect’ for us. We are very #capable, #professionals, who can deal with all measure of very human mistakes.

Conversations won’t be had, mistakes won’t be made and progress won’t occur, if we are not able to accept and celebrate the #imperfect steps along the way.

I was sitting front and centre for the spectacular closing showcase, and I was genuinely blown away, delighted ... and feeling like I found my future tribe.

I CAN’T wait to see what we all achieve together next year !

P.S. for all of you who felt ‘Heart-Warmed’ by Camilla and Lisa’s moment; so did I ! You’re #allowed, trust me.

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