Nearly 400 people packed into the Freemans Bay Community Centre last Tuesday evening for the NZ Fashion Tech 2012 Diploma Runway Show. From the woops and cheers in the audience, the night was a resounding success – and proves that although we are still coming out of dark economic times, there is a bright future for New Zealand, particularly when it comes to fashion.
There were three parts to the evening. Firstly the Red Cross Upcycle Challenge. The NZ Fashion Tech first year students had to deconstruct five to six old garments selected at random from Auckland Red Cross stores and re-engineer and reconstruct the pieces into high fashion garments. The students had only a week to design and complete their garments before judging. The winners were chosen by a panel of NZ Fashion Tech, Red Cross and Sustainable Business Network representatives. The final winner was decided by the public – through the powers of social media and Facebook.
The second part to the evening, and the most publicised, was the Kleenex Cottonelle Paper Dresses display. I sat with my mouth hanging open as dress after dress was displayed throughout the evening at the beginning of each graduates collection. The design brief for the students was to “create a glamorous and luxurious white cocktail gown, displaying the tissue’s air weave texture. The gown must invoke a sense of softness yet be durable enough to survive over 10 catwalk shows during NZ Fashion Week as well as numerous fashion shoots and promotions”. The array of designs, shapes, textures and patterns was truly remarkable – no two dresses looked the same.
After each graduate student had shown the Kleenex Cottonelle white dress, their commercial ready to wear collection was paraded down the run way by a host of interesting, and often entertaining models. There was a family feel to the intimate event, with some models waving to friends in the audience, and one lucky model even received a beautiful lei from a loving fan. The final collections were an eclectic mix of colours, patterns and fabrics and each student received cheers and loud praise from the audience.
While I was staring at the catwalk in awe of the garments, and appreciating just what the evening meant for the future of New Zealand fashion, and young New Zealanders in general, I was inspired by how many collections were unique and did not reflect any other current New Zealand brands or designers. There were murmurs in the audience of ‘ooh that is soo COOP’, or ‘That is totally Kate Sylvester’ – but for many of the garments, and indeed the collections, it was impossible to compare them to another brand. That in itself speaks volumes about the creativity and talent coming through the ranks at NZ Fashion Tech.
While each of the components of the night had its winners, I certainly had my own favourites. I am obsessed with Mustard at the moment, and the moment that Sali Hafeedh’s collection came down the runway I was off my seat cheering. The beautifully cut bold clothes were a hit with the crowd as well, and the mustard dress was my favourite from the collection.
Ghissy Gascoine also stood out for me with her menswear collection. It was bright, bold and a really cohesive three piece collection. I loved the print and simple tailoring of the bright patterned shirt.
Finally, my favourite garments of the night were by MJ Greig. Her stand out collection was a crowd favourite. I felt she took chances, and it paid off. Her bold collection was a stand out for me, and pushed further into avant garde fashion than any of the other collections. I thought she found the line perfectly between fun fashion and ready to wear (just the right amount of Daphne Guinness if you know what I mean).