New Zealand Fashion Week has wrapped for another year but we’re still thinking about a handful of Kiwi designers that stole our hearts (and the fresh-faced models we have on our radar) on the runway. New Zealand Fashion Week launched in 2001—it’s an integral platform to give new and emerging designers an opportunity to showcase their brands to a wider audience. There’s a huge amount of exciting talent coming out of New Zealand right now, so this year was one of our might highly anticipated yet.
From the established and beloved (think Kate Sylvester and Stolen Girlfriends Club) to the young newcomers like Rachel Mills and Wynn Hamlyn, here are the five New Zealand Fashion Week shows we can’t stop talking about.
The week kicked off with a brand that has been synonymous with New Zealand fashion for over thirty years—but there was nothing old about Zambesi’s A/W 18 show. “We wanted it to feel electric,” said Liz Findlay who, along with design partner Dayne Johnston, were bestowed with the prestigious Mercedes Benz Presents accolade for 2017. That feeling of electricity was everywhere; from the soundtrack that was loud enough to garner a visceral reaction, to the metallic-foiled racing suits and futuristic makeup of luminous skin with electric pops of colour. Zambesi classics such as androgynous suiting, leather outerwear, and baggy boy shorts held up with suspenders, were reimagined in bright yellows, quilted textures, and Japanese fleece. Clothing that physically empowered those who wore it. As Liz put it, “Looking forward keeps you focused and challenged, and remembering what has gone before keeps you grounded.”
STOLEN GIRLFRIENDS CLUB
Sticking with the androgynous theme, Stolen Girlfriends Club presented its A/W 18 collection “Safer Than Heaven” with a diverse cast of models—adorned with nose rings and nipple piercings no less—and a sexy nod to the ’90s in the form of sheer mesh body stockings, graphic tees that looked like album covers, and loads of leather. Sheepskin quilted jackets in blush pink, army green, and black were among the most coveted pieces of the collection and if it feels a little Yeezy that’s because Kiwi styling duo, and members of Kanye West’s highly-publicised styling team, Dylan Richards and Sebastian Hunt were flown in from LA for the special event. Stolen Girlfriends Club delivered everything its fans love; leather made to last, clothes that were at once tough and sexy, and an unapologetic attitude, all wrapped up in some ’90s nostalgia.
Stolen Girlfriends Club
After his first highly-successful showing at NZFW last year, there was arguably some pressure on Wynn Hamlyn’s A/W 18 collection. Inspired by the irony of the traditional fashion month circuit and timing of the seasons—in which we buy summer clothes in winter and vice versa—Wynn’s latest offering emulated a more balanced, considered approach to dressing. He explains, “As my thoughts developed I realised that instead of winding back the fashion schedule to align closer to our seasons, we are changing the climate to align with the industry.” The collection caters to the modern consumer who sees the lines blurring between summer and winter wardrobes; a traditional floral print was reimagined in moody browns and mustard, summer slides were paired with quilted corsets—both around the neck and waist—and dark denim. The collection was both feminine and subtle; with pin-striped suiting layered over crisp white shirts and summer shorts, knitted dresses with deconstructed bodices that hugged the body, and oversized visors worn with relaxed trousers that could be seen peeking out from under dresses. But best of all, this was a wearable collection that we could imagine ourselves in straight off the runway—if only we didn’t have to wait another year.
Another young designer we are coveting after NZFW is Rachel Mills and her eponymous label. Mills’ latest collection, “Neokind”, fused together masculine and feminine styling—something she is fast becoming known for—and was presented as an installation with stationary models to allow viewers to linger on their favourite pieces, “I wanted the viewer to be in control of the speed at which the range is digested.” “Neokind” was functional with a touch of drama, just like the New Romantic period of the ’80s where Mills drew inspiration from. And while the hair and makeup evoked signature ’80s beauty, it was juxtaposed against heavy denim jeans, white-topstitched boiler suits, and not a shoulder pad in sight. Some waists were cinched with chunky necklaces while others were left to breathe, skin-colored fishnets were hidden under red silk taffeta wide-leg trousers. The collection is timeless loungewear that is chic enough to take you from a lazy Sunday through to Monday in the office.
And then the week concluded in the same way it began, with an electric jolt, this time courtesy of Who What Wear Australia favourite Kate Sylvester, who marked her return to NZFW with an homage to neo-noir classic “Blade Runner”. The runway had a neon glow, enhancing the vivid hues of bright green, cobalt blue, and hot pink. The A/W 18 collection, “Electric Dreams”, had ’80s futurism everywhere, from strong shoulders to ankle boots in optic white and red. Boxy leather bomber jackets, and trench coats that looked buttery soft contrasting alongside a billowing oriental silk dress, luxe velvet, and fur coats. It was a glittering finish to an outstanding week of fashion from our favourite designers across the ditch.