Returning for its 29th year, Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) promises the expected – runway shows, industry panels, pop-ups and eye-catching street style. But what may come as a pleasant surprise is the announcement of Ayesha Madon as Melbourne Fashion Week Ambassador for 2023.
Since starring as the lead in Netflix's Heartbreak High reboot last year, the actor and musician's star has been on the rise, while her unapologetic and bold personal style has also been a hit with industry faves and fans.
Appearing at the Melbourne Fashion Week launch at Commons Collective on Wednesday, Ayesha was unveiled as the face of the prestigious week-long MBW which will take place from October 23 to 29.
"So chuffed to announce that this year I’ll be ambassador for @melbfashionweek," she later wrote on her Instagram account. "Melbourne played a massive role in my creative journey and holds a very special place in my heart so I can’t wait to be back in October for what is set to be a killer week. See you there."
I mentioned earlier that Ayesha being named the ambassador could come as somewhat of a pleasant surprise, and the reason I say this is because we're only just starting to see greater South Asian representation in Australian fashion. In an industry (not just in Australia, but globally) that's long been reigned by whitewashed beauty standards, we're finally dismantling cultural stereotypes, rejecting colourism, and embracing the beauty of diversity. Priya Serrao and Maria Thattil have previously been named Miss Universe Australia winners. Rowi Singh, Jeremy Franco, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran and Maab walked at Sydney's Australian Afterpay Fashion Week earlier this year.
When I interviewed Ayesha a year ago on behalf of Refinery29 Australia, she spoke about the challenges she faced growing up as a brown girl.
"I can't speak on behalf of every first-gen brown woman, [but] my experience was tumultuous to say the least," she said at the time while promoting Heartbreak High.
"Obviously having body hair and being a brown woman, you're not really seen as cool or hot or anything aspirational. I guess that takes a toll on your mental health along with the fact that you never get to see yourself in media or romanticised in any way."
I'm super proud to see Ayesha as the face of one of the country's biggest fashion events of the year. And something tells me young Ayesha would be too.
More information about Melbourne Fashion Week can be found here.