Oh hai guys. Today is such an exciting day! The sun is out, we have a shiny new website, our friends over at UnderTheRadar have a shiny new website, and we're smack bang in the middle of our 'Marr Factory' coverage (last night's Karen Walker show was fantastic). Because it's the start of two of the busiest weeks in New Zealand's fashion calendar - NZFW starts next Tuesday, September 4th - I have decided it's appropriate timing - and also high time - we took a nostalgic look back at some of our favourite collections from our favourite New Zealand designers. So, from Kate Sylvester's 'Art Groupie' to Nom*D's 'Operation Bombshell' - and in no particular order - here goes.
KAREN WALKER - 2002 'DUST'
Back at the turn of the century when everone was listening to 'Gatecrasher' compilations and wearing day-glo (sic) t-shirts designed by Cassette Playa, Karen Walker was establishing herself as someone who went her own way. Chanelling a refined kind of grunge, 'Dust' introduced the unique prints she has become synonymous with over the years, as well as wholeheartedly expressing the etherial theme across every knit, shirt and A-line skirt. It made me dream (and attempt to craft my own star and moon necklaces from Fimo #fail), and that's what good design should do, right?
KATE SYLVESTER - WINTER 2008 'ART GROUPIE'
Have you guys seen that new Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris? The premise of a writer travelling back in time to hang out with dead artists doesn't sound that appealing, but the movie itself is actually fantastic. Two things here: firstly, that - in fact - a turd can be polished in the right hands and secondly, Salvador Dali makes an appearance in both Midnight in Paris and in Kate Sylvester's Winter 2008 collection. While references to multiple - and very graphic - artists could be a recipe for disaster, Sylvester imbued a series of relatively classic cuts with the quirk, whimsy and straight-out cray Dali inspired. She will also go down in history as the only person ever to make a hand-fascinator look cool.
ZAMBESI - SUMMER 2007
When I moved from Wellington to Auckland the first - and most obvious - thing I become aware of was that summer did exist and people dressed for it. Which immediately reminded me of seeing this collection in store at Zambesi on Customhouse Quay in Wellington and - while the rain-wind combination was being an absolute asshole - musing on who, exactly in this world got the chance to wear a light-weight, Hawaiin print blazer. Wish I'd bought it while I had the chance.
NOM*D - SUMMER 2008 'OPERATION BOMSHELL'
Colour blocking has become this dirty phrase in my mind, evoking images of NW 'fashion' shoots that layer racer back singlets and multiple bubble watches onto a model model who leans against a surf board in a studio, while a loud, inappropriate font says something like 'Surf's Up' or 'Tutti-Frutti' (insert questionable metaphor here). Just me? Anyway, Nom*D were all over both layering and colour blocking back in 2008 when they shot now-supermodel Meghan Collison looking shit hot wearing layers of re-appropriated red satin, reminding us that intellectual fashion is the best kind and that the New Zealand industry doesn't revolve around Auckland #Dunedinforlife.
LONELY HEARTS SUMMER - 2010 'BRAINS FOR DINNER'
This one was a toughie because I love the way Lonely Hearts have refined their direction over the past few collections into a very clear shtick that is reflected in a definitive number of silhouettes and styles. BUT, there was something about the bratty, 'don't give a fuck' 'tude (yes, 'tude) of 'Brans for Dinner' - making me wear my dresses off the shoulder and my sheer shirts with only a bra - that was emotionally resonant. It's also one of those collections that I kick myself for not purchasing from - the dip dye, the dip dye!
TWENTY-SEVEN NAMES - WINTER 2012 'TAKE COVER'
Twenty-seven names eschewed the standard runway presentation at last year's fashion week for an art exhibition. The event celebrated a series of portraits shot by Guy Coombes that presented the brand's signature prints while also questioning the nature of clothing in relation to how we interact with a crowd: to stand in, or out, basically. It was - for me at least - also the first time I'd seen the brand truly nail the aesthetic that their subsequent Summer 2012-13 collection has blown out of the park: a cross between prep, the nineties and plain acting like one of the boys.
RUBY - WINTER 2012 'CAPITAL CITY'
Earlier on in this post I sort of lamented early 2000's new rave, but there were parts of it I really liked, namely metallic. For her Winter 2012-13 collection - which showed at NZFW last year - Ruby designer Deanna Didovich imagined a refined, futuristic cosmopolitan where women acted all ladylike while wearing bronze leather pants. No, gents, this place doesn't exist and yes, if my thighs weren't upside-down pyramids I would have so had me some of those pants.
STOLEN GIRLFRIEND'S CLUB - WINTER 2009 'PRETTY VACANT'
The punk movement was an interesting, hypocrtical one really. While the Sex Pistols were all "against the man" they were also manufactured by Malcolm McLaren and 'styled' by Vivienne Westwood, suggesting that they in fact had their own micro-business going on. So while spending $300 on a shirt that you could find at a thrift store doesn't seem like the most 'punk' thing to do, maybe it is. Regardless of the politics, Stolen Girlfriend's Club's Winter 2009 collection reflected Anglomania better than most, and remains one of their best examples of embuing their rock 'n roll vibe across a solid, consistent collection.
SALASAI - WINTER 2011 'UNCHARTERED TERRITORY'
While Salsai designer Kirsha Whitcher relocated to Australia recently, the strength of her collections lie in their reflection of New Zealand's cultural and historical milieu. A bricolage of European, Maori and Pacific Island aesthetic influences collide to form pieces that speak both to our individuality and our exhaustive, outward-looking nature. The NZFW show for this collection - which was beautifully styled by Dan Ahwa - teamed expansive, classical music with brothel creepers, kilts and digital print landscapes, reminding us that a very important part of being a New Zealander is constantly questioning who we are.
WORKSHOP - WINTER 2012
There are two things that denim has traditionally been associated with: cowboys, and rock 'n roll. As our most synonymous denim brand Workshop took the latter to heart last year with their an unashamedly nostalgic, sixties collection: all leather pant suits and kitten heels, proving that all you really need to look awesome is a bit of red lippy and a killer pair of skinny jeans.
JIMMY D - SUMMER 2012-13 'RISING SUN, MELTING MOON'
To be honest, I'm so far gone with this collection that I didn't even bother to look at Jimmy D's archive. I've talked enough about it here since the look book was released so I won't bore you. Suffice to say that 'Rising Sun, Melting Moon' discusses individuality, feminism, black metal and on top of that is expertly crafted and realised. Gah, talent.