The runway event is a celebration of the 2022 graduating class’s collections. Katie Day, fashion writer, speaks to students about their work.
The audience, which was dimly lit, sat side by Side, framing an illuminated runway.
A clock’s countdown kept time, elevated upon projector screens above the catwalk, to herald the annual fashion show’s commencement.
There was a flurry of support from beloved graduates and a sense of community.
The vibrant hum was tempered by a faint thread of trepidation, but celebration exceeded all expectations.
A beat-led, rhythmic track played through close-seated bodies as the first model stepped on the runway.
It was followed by a display of second-year student design ideas. This established the night’s explorative signature. Collective themes visible among the early designers’ work included oversized garments, natural fibres and textile explorations. The boxy, oversized silhouettes reflect the renegotiated space that exists between the garments and the body. It is a result of a recent restructuring of work spaces and home spaces.
Students and the design school embraced natural fibres such as cottons, chambray and linens. Second year students created clothes that were thoughtfully crafted using modern techniques such as embroidery, felting, print.
The colour of the second year’s designs was connected by colour. It offers a seamless blend of 70s tones in tans and creams as well as soft chambray and chambray colors. Textured with nostalgic 90s plaids and blacks, it is a cohesive combination.
As the bass notes subsided, Otago Polytechnic’s Head of the College of Art, Design and Architecture, Frederico Freschi,offered gratitude for the event and community that contributed to such. He spoke about the importance of the 31-year-old fashion show and the fact that it was the last to be held under Otago Polytechnic’s banner before the merger of national polytechnics, which formed technical institutes under Te Pukenga.
It is certain that the fashion show will continue. Freschi then introduced Freschi’s third-year class, which is tenacious and technically-minded. These fashion-ideators, who began their fashion studies at the University of California in 2020, were tenacious, innovative, and creative. It was their night. This was their night to show their five-outfit graduate collection. Each collection represents three years worth of creative and adaptive thinking combined with their growing technical skills.
The third-year collections reflected the spirit of lockdown explorations with notes of reimagined realities, worlds of escape and other themes. The collection ranged from gaming-inspired streetwear, to a full line of luxury designer clothing. Game of ThronesThere are many occasion-wear collections featuring corsets and referencing garments. Other collections were inspired by the tacit realities of the designers, and based upon reflections or critiques of contemporary society.
Students graduating from college, Francesca Flynn, Jess Long, George Park, and Jess Long share the meanings behind their collections.
Hagyatek, which means “inheritance” and “legacy”, refers to a ready-to wear collection of sustainable clothing that is inspired by Hungarian folkwear. The purpose of this collection was to draw more attention to traditional Hungarian garments and craftsmanship and to honour my Nana’s memory. This collection is long-lasting, sustainable, and culturally correct. While I did want to modernise traditional folkwear in a way that would make it fashionable, I didn’t want to encroach on the original meanings and techniques used. I kept the hand embroidery and headdresses that indicate marital status, aswell as some pleated skirts (and an apron), which are key components in Hungarian clothing.
Natural fibres like silk and cotton were dyed using natural dyes such iron, pomegranate, and madder root. As with everything I make, I tried to keep material waste to a minimum and create clothing that won’t harm the health of the wearer or the environment.
Women are sexualized regardless of their clothing. Female empowerment is intrinsic to my practice, and the female friendships formed throughout my study have fostered my passion for feminism. To express the idea that women can wear whatever material is most comfortable for them, the materials are opaque and sheer. These garments can be made as open- or as low-profile as you wish. Crochet was a challenge this year. The physical engagement that required me to crochet helped me understand the medium. My collection facilitates women’s choice about how they want to present themselves.
“The Nature of Mercury,” my graduate collection, details the metamorphic creatures that adapt to different perpetrators. How the minority adapts to survive the majority — by exploiting their features to blend in. They are stored in the subconscious, and they are reflected in our self.
Masking, or “social camouflage” gave way to my aesthetic inspiration — exploring modern concealment technology; artificial-intelligence, tactical camouflage, reflection, malformation, proportion, pattern and a complete obscurement of the form. I’ve prioritised a display of variety and abundance of skill, spanning wearability to avant-garde absurdism. From tailoring and dance wear to explorations of high-concept material.
“The Colonial Wedding” was inspired by my whakapapa journey and my reconnecting with Ngai Tahu, my iwi. This collection focuses on the impact colonialism has had in Aotearoa. Gazing through the lens of Christianity, to explore the reality of indoctrination and the explicit extermination of Maori culture — to the impact this has on Maori wahine today. As a designer, my process is focused on experimenting with textile manipulation and unconventional materials, implementing techniques such as laser cutting, etching, heat moulding and glasswork — to push the limits of the materiality of fashion.