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High-low fashionistas find Utopia outside runway show

The fashionistas in the forecourt have so far been just as inspired as anything on the runway at the Melbourne fashion festival.

At the Utopia show at the Royal Exhibition Building on Monday night, which featured designers including Aje and Nevenka, Charlie Daniels was one of dozens outside who were revelling in the chance to rock some outlandish attire.

"I just put this together while I was watching The Tudors on telly last night," Ms Daniels told AAP.

She was sporting a white pillbox hat with extra feathers, a white corset with ruffled shoulders, fishnet sleeves and a black tulle full skirt. With sneakers.

"I wore heels last year," the events planner from Melbourne explained.

While some in Monday's audience were critical of designers sending models down the runway in running shoes, it seemed Ms Daniels had made a wise choice: one woman in patent leather high heeled boots was visibly limping from the show.

It's well known that fashion requires sacrifice, and yet the next generation is by no means deterred.

Mum Annie Nolan, sporting a fringed top, vinyl miniskirt and cow-print knee high boots, had brought her nine-year-old twins to see their first runway show.

Delphi Picken was a riot of colour in purple pigtails and blue fringe, with a long-sleeved pink dress, lilac gel sandals and lemon yellow socks, while sister Cheska was wore a silvery mini dress with a large bow.

So what did they think of the runway?

"It was really cool," said Delphi.

"It was awesome," said Cheska.

Bernice Andrews, 22, was rocking a purple tulle skirt-as-dress secured with a belt, combined with knee-high lime green high-heeled boots.

The Sydney fashion student was in Melbourne for a few days to immerse herself in the high-end labels on show, but cheerfully admitted she had found her own inventive outfit in a thrift shop.

A mix of high and low fashion was the common theme for many on Monday, the right look being more important than the label.

While Eva Schelling wore an upmarket piece from Alemais and items from Salvatore Ferragamo, her friend Molly Harris had found a shimmering silver dress at H&M and paired it with white Doc Martens.

Whatever was happening on the runway, the high-low anything-goes commitment to sheer sartorial inventiveness on display outside is surely its own kind of Utopia.