New Zealand Fashion Week 2015

Arts and culture journalist Sonia Sly on what’s hot, what’s not and who’s who at New Zealand Fashion Week 2015.

Arts and culture journalist Sonia Sly on what’s hot, what’s not and who’s who at New Zealand Fashion Week.

Trend Alert: Breaking it down

New Zealand Fashion Week may be done and dusted, but the train keeps on moving through to Autumn Winter next year, which is what the industry event is all about.  If you’re wondering what to keep in your closet or what to throw away, Sonia Sly tells us what to expect in the seasons to come… 

The Silhouette: The new season’s silhouette is a combination of oversized urban modernism and gender neutral pieces through to structured 1940’s glamour and flowing seventies shapes.  A hint of the swinging 60’s is also thrown into the casserole of your winter wardrobe. Kate Sylvester does her take on the grown up mini dress and plays with 60’s graphics, while at RUBY and ITZME it’s all about embracing the innocence of youth with baby doll dresses and lots of leg.

The Palette: Black will never fade, navy is a trusty classic and neutrals in camel, slate, mocha and cream will be the foundation staples of your wardrobe (Julian Danger, Kate Sylvester, Twenty Seven Names). Those of you who love bursts of colour will not be disappointed; sky blue, rich purple, plum, fire engine red, forest green, turquoise, and dusty hues of cayenne and apricot are bound to send your winter blues away.

Lady-like length: Embrace your femininity and let your skirts and dresses graze around ankle or midi length.  Dresses are structured and neat at the torso, or fall loosely at the waist. Check out Twenty Seven Names, Kate Sylvester and Liz Mitchell for style cues. Pretty pleats are a classic that are here to stay and hold on to that knitted tube dress or skirt. Wynn Hamlyn has got you covered if you want to try the style with an inventive twist. 

Quilted: Without getting into mountaineering territory jackets, coats, tops and jumpers are given a sophisticated and edgy outing in quilted fabric. But if you’re not keen to go the whole hog, opt for pieces with quilted details on shoulders and sleeves. Designer Kylie Mangan does it best— she is a master at mixing texture with stylish ready-to-wear statement pieces.

Jewel tones and fur make a bold winter statement at Harman Grubisa AW 16.

Jewel tones and fur make a bold winter statement at Harman Grubisa AW 16. Photo: Diego Opatowski / RNZ.

Fur: Bounteous cashmere blanket shawls will encase your torso in a chic daytime wrap, or add some glamour with a beautiful fur stole slung over one shoulder –or both—and tucked into your belted waistline. Harman Grubiŝa, Kate Sylvester, Liz Mitchell and Andrea are your go to.

The Fine details: DO…

  • Whether you’re a guy or gal forget about playing it safe and combine texture and colour and mix prints and patterns in a range of fabrics—sheer tops with structured skirts or pants look great (Andrea Moore) and Eastern opulence provides an opportunity to push the envelope even more with jacquard and brocade.
  • Wear a thin belt to nip in the waist of your winter coat or jacket, or use it to anchor down that luxurious statement fur.
  • Wear trainers with ladylike lengths for a cool ‘I just threw this old thing on,’ kind of vibe. It’s clean, tomboyish and a woollen base-ball cap (Twenty Seven Names) will complete the ‘dressed up to dress down’ look.
  • Wear your skirts and tunics with pants—it works across menswear and womenswear. You may have been here before, but the new look is streamlined. You can also cut it streetstyle with cropped wide leg pants and layered boxy tops.  Ladies look to Kate Sylvester and ITZME and for the boys Nom*D and Steve Hall. You can always keep a belt close by for added shape and structure.
  • Splits will be running their way up knitted tube skirts and dresses (Wynn Hamlyn, Hailwood, Julian Danger). 
  • Look for garments with fringe accents in wool, leather and silk but keep accessories to a minimum so that the detail and movement of the fringing shines through (Sean Kelly, Zambesi).

28 August 2015

When a marriage proposal happens live on the runway, you know it’s going to be a good day.

Midway through the Miromoda show, designers Hohepa Thompson and Mia Brennan emerged from the top of the runway to greet the audience. Hohepa got down on one knee as we all watched on.

His new fiancé gave a wide smile, nodding her head quickly…I think that was a yes!?

But back to the clothes. From the outset, it was clear that all 14 designers were set to impress. Steve Hall, Kylie Mangan, Aaliyah Jobe and Shona Tawhiao sent tingles down my spine, amidst a selection of other strong designers, each with a unique aesthetic.

Everyone pulled out their iPhones to snap Steve Hall’s menswear collection of Japanese inspired, Kabuki skirts rolled over at the waist. I for one, have a penchant for structured garments and his had me breathless with excitement— so much so, that later, I found myself gushing to the designer in a moment of passion: “I need to get hold of your pieces!” I yelled in his ear. It might sound embarrassing, but it had to be done.

Structured quilting in full ensembles will be huge next winter, if Kylie Mangan and Aaliyah Jobe’s collections are anything to go by. Both designers showing statement dark, street-ready garments that exude underground cool.

Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Miromoda Show at Fashion Week.

Miromoda Show at Fashion Week Photo: Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ.

Breathtaking black basketry sent looks of amazement around the room and iPhones were at the ready again as Shona Tawhiao’s avant-garde headdresses and other show-stopping outfits of a similar vein followed suit. This was modern, edgy Pasifika at it’s best—the stuff we all hope to be inspired by as part of a fashion week experience.

Later on, I was extremely excited to see Project Runway’s winner, Sean Kelly. The designer showed great diversity reigned in by sleek choker-collared necks, off shoulder tops; white draping with a sprinkle of elegantly placed fringing, light satin blue suits, and passionate fire engine red which sent hearts palpitating.

The final look was a full-length, body-hugging netted dress worn only with a G-string for full near-naked effect. “That’s risqué,” I whispered to myself, as jaws dropped around me. Do I look, or do I look away?

Sean’s parents told me that the designer has been highly focused on this collection.

“He said backstage that this was the most relaxed he’s ever been before a show, with a great team of people behind him,” his mother Margaret Kelly said.

Sean’s dad, John Kelly, said they’d been pre-warned about the barely-there outfits. “He told me there would be an ‘art component … he often does this kind of thing.”

Ruby Show at an Auckland City carpark.

Ruby Show at an Auckland City carpark. Photo: Diego Opatowski / RNZ.

Ruby’s show ‘Tonight, Tonight,’ was held in a parking building near K Road. Seventies silhouettes predominated with heavy bangs and bronzed-faced models. Bell-shaped sleeves and pretty pastel hues were a highlight of the collection in wool. Models walked in and around corners of the runway disappearing and reappearing, until they stopped.

And then it happened. Three actors dressed in Ruby garb in what became an hysterical and entertaining comical act, involving extreme gestures as they chased one another around the carpark in a choreographed scene. Hips gyrated, facial expressions bordered on ridiculous and arms flung out wide.  This is the kind of dancing that we all do at home when nobody is looking … or is that just me?

Shoe designer Sarah Riley enjoyed the show’s ready-to-wear pieces, marking out the garments on her buyers card in preparation for the new release. “I loved the playsuits, it’s just really nice fun stuff, and the comedy just really broke up the show, it was great!”

Another attendee, Cyrus Chow, loved the music and setting at Ruby. As we chatted over loud hip hop music he explained the reason why he prefers seeing womenswear over the staple items of shirts, jackets and pants that make up a guy’s everyday wardrobe. “Womenswear is more diverse and it was good to have some smiling faces in the audience. It’s nice to switch it up.” 

Loud applause, heads bobbing to the music (including mine) and gleeful smiles abounded as people left for the evening—some racing off to Zambesi back at the Viaduct in what I hear was a packed-out audience on the final night of industry shows for New Zealand Fashion Week, 2015.

27 August 2015

​On day three of New Zealand Fashion Week, Itzme and Julian Danger presented the first show at the Viaduct Event Centre.

Itzme was up first. The audience were excited for Syza, the designer, who cut her teeth working for Karen Walker before launching her own label last year.

A cropped camel off-shoulder ​top with rows of pin tucks was paired with matching loose trousers as the opening look. Itzme pushed the boundaries of cuteness with puffy short sleeves, baby doll dresses, large pockets, frilly high collars, and tunics that were worn alone with ankle socks and MaryJanes, or layered over longer sheer skirts and dresses. I was hooked on a statement blue-checkered faux fur fabric that had been made into both a jacket and a long-line sleeveless vest.

This is a designer who loves playing with contrasting details – red buttons complemented by pale blue and white trimmings were used to offset black. Red, baby blue and forest green were presented in a range of textures and fabrics from cotton to wool, and velvet.

This is the second time Syza has presented her label Itzme at fashion week. “This season’s style is completely different to last season," she says, [and] I’m more serious about how people felt after the show."

JulianDanger followed next.

Label owner Amy Rose-Goulding had an elegant and dreamy combination of looks replete with furry pompom hair ties that held the models hair in slightly undone low ponytails. Tube skirts, sheer floaty sleeveless tops and cape-let sleeved blouses were matched with cigarette pants and blazers. A black suit with a matching cape made for sharp modernism. The collection was easy on the eye with a selection of winter creams, soft peach, grey and a smattering of navy.

Heard on leaving the auditorium from a gushing audience member: “I loved that cream suit.”

Her Apparel and Willa and Mae were the first lingerie show of the event.

Personal shopper and style consultant, Charlotte Hobson of Closet Confidential said it was a really hard show for ‘Her Apparel’, with its small collection, but they did a good job of showcasing the aesthetic of their unstructured, lightweight delicate underwear. “There’s just not much scope with that, but it did look really beautiful down the catwalk.

She thought Willa and Mae was the more dynamic of the two collections because it ventured into territory that went beyond the obvious. “They had pyjamas and gowns and beautiful cottons and flowy shirts. They also chose some fantastic models, which showed off their garments. Some of them were older, which gives a much wider appeal. The shirting and everything else looked really edgy and on-trend.”

The New Zealand Weddings Magazine Collection in the afternoon was a show not to be missed.

Natalie Chan set the wheels in motion with a multimedia backdrop of ocean waves. Large, structured white fascinators accentuated feminine gowns. Banded empire waistlines were seen throughout her collection, and a mix of pink and autumnal petals sewn into bodices and skirts, swept the audience up in whirl of true romance…

Crane Brothers took to the stage next, opening with a modern charcoal-black tuxedo. A band of blue suits followed close behind in a range of fabrics. Formal and casual suits were on display. White pants and chambray shirts made for the perfect honeymoon outfit.

Hera Bridal sent the audience cooing and smiling with flower girls walking first, as we waited in anticipation for the beautiful bride to appear. In she walked with a slim fitting white dress with delicate fringe detail that moved as she did. Lace inserts and fine hand beading heightened the glamour stakes with hair falling in loose, casual waves. A single flower in the hair emphasised an understated elegance throughout. Katie Yeung showed a range of looks to suit a variety of wedding settings.

In a classic charcoal suit and tie, model and celebrity TV Bachelor, Art Green, sent a few giggles around the room and had jaws dropping as he opened the show for Working Style.The story of their collection included a jacquard suit in black for maximum impact and a sleek, slim tuxedo at the formal end of the spectrum. Sporty light grey and navy jackets were worn over staple whites and chambray shirts, with a dusty salmon sports jacket putting a punchy new spin on smart casual chic.

Robyn Cliffe proved that romance isn’t dead. The show opened with a delightfully unexpected pair of flowing white trousers and an elegant silk spaghetti strap top. 1940’s and 50’s vintage shapes were revisited with a sumptuous lace two-piece gown accentuated by a layered feather headpiece. Cliffe goes above and beyond on ideas and executes them with stunning precision. Her caped V-neck dress oozed sophisticated minimalism. The show stopper of her presentation was a floral kimono style gown, paired with a look-at-me red hat.

Barkers was all about mixing and matching colours and unpredictable textures. Trousers were cuffed and navy was paired with black. Their closing look—a blue and red tartan jacket making a bold statement over a canvas of black shirt and matching tapered trousers.

John Zimmerman, closed the large group show. Here, dreamy passionate romance hits hard. This designer knows how to make a woman look sexy and sophisticated without being overtly risqué or clichéd — I get the feeling that he knows women more than they know themselves.

The music set the pace and the first look was not a dress, but a slim jacket glistening with sparkling details down the sleeves, paired with elegant flowing pants. A structured 1940’s look came next and dabbled into architectural peplum; sparkling lace with belted bodices carried flowing skirts. And hair fell in perfect, cascading waves.

The evening shows kicked off with Harman Grubisa's AW16 collection, ‘Dakota’ where sharp tailoring and clean silhouettes made an immediate impact down the runway. A tan long-line coat with woolen culottes was first off the block, followed by navy quilting, fine knit dresses—either straight and tied at the waist, or in a flattering wrap style—all falling just below the knee.

Silk cowl necks added sophistication for the woman who needs to transition from day to night with ease. Soft silvery greys and warm peaches formed immaculate suiting, and rich purple jewel tones exuded luxury. Statement ostrich shawls were slung over one shoulder and then tucked into belted waists, making me wish that winter 2016 would come a little sooner, rather than later. But perhaps they’ll be the winter light at the end of the autumn tunnel.

Isabelle Fish was happy to share her experience of the Harman Grubisa show. “Well I loved the classic lines. I thought the cut was well executed and the fabrics were really lovely. There was one particular fabric I loved—a blue satin dress and there was also a blouse, which had a cowl neck—it was so elegant, and I love elegance! The fur shawls were fun and they moved as the models walked up and down the catwalk like they had a life of their own.”

Anna Stretton's show was due at 7pm, but with ongoing delays, audience numbers dropped away, leaving at least one third of the seats empty by the time the show began around 8:15pm.

Amy Winehouse was the opening track. Her models emerged with painted white hair in low side buns. The collection ‘Mirror Mirror’ comprising of over-sized collars and lapels, fine wool knits, nipped in waists and stretch jersey tops born from a palette of khaki and grey. Platform cut out sandals and black and white checkered socks completed the first lot of looks. The music changed gear, and with it, the arrival of bright floral prints in plums and greens--with a hint of the orient. A third section of her collection revealed layered apron dresses and her statement season print of fuschia peonies.

Stolen Girlfriends Club celebrated the launch of their in-season Spring Summer 15 collection ‘Township Rebellion’ at 9pm, at off-site St James Theatre where VIP guests were seated on stage in full view of both the audience and the runway. Party-goers and a majority of invitees crowded the auditorium and jostled for space—including me.

These guys are all about rock n’ roll. Heavy-duty black denim dominated with skinny jeans and denim flares. Figure hugging tank tops--and more mini skirts than I’ve seen all week-- contrasted with ultra feminine dresses in a hydrangea print.

The boys and girls have equal footing in this range, with the same prints and fabrics threaded through the men’s collection, including the aforementioned floral arrangement in an all-over printed hydrangea t-shirt. For the boys: plenty of khaki headed down the catwalk, including, a new spin on camouflage; slogan printed tops read, Rebellion, Menthol and Huntly, interspersed with sweatshirts, faux shearling collared jackets and blue printed tiger faces reared their heads on black bomber jackets.

My favourite piece of the night was a women’s faux fur coat in white, red and black stripes. And the highlight—a model stage diving into the packed audience, in true late-night-gig style.

Menswear Instagram blogger, Vlad Tichen from Bad Wears Good says of the final show: “The Stolen Girlfriends Club show was rough ... Female models could not care less about the audience, real ice queens those ones. Boys looked like they were gonna punch you right in the face [and] the soundtrack was kind of suggesting the same. There were crazy prints, tough leather, chunky knits and heavy boots. It looked aggressive. It looked mean. It looked real." Needless to say, I loved it! Punk is still here, its just Stolen Girlfriends Club kind of punk.

26 August 2015

When it rains it pours. And when it pours, the show must go on.

Twenty Seven Names launched day two of New Zealand Fashion Week, presenting show ‘Still Life’ in the rain outside the Viaduct Event Centre, proving that life will never be still and that nature will do what it does best.

Unpredictability added to the novelty factor and, once guests were seated, models entered the space one at a time, taking a designated place within the quad. Before long, the full collection stood before the audience.

Fawn, soft apricots, black pants and jackets, navy and white were the order of the day, forming a smart, wearable collection that included flattering wool and linen midi skirts and dresses, with a few ankle-grazing lengths for good measure. There were boxy tops, tailored pants, relaxed oversized linen dresses – with thin tied-back waists, and - my favourite and a new look for the label – a full-length sleeveless dress with a fitted bodice in a subtle greyish-blue print.

Long tresses were gathered in low-slung clips, and white trainers completed the looks giving the collection that sweet, youthful – slightly tomboyish and unfussy feel – that Twenty Seven Names is known for.

This is charming simplicity at its best.

After the show, I chatted with professional photographer Brad Hick, who has been shooting New Zealand Fashion Week for the past 15 years.

“I think the audience weren’t happy about being under umbrellas and in the rain, but the best shots for me were actually the audience peering through their cameras and iPhones trying to get a shot and see the show.”

Hick enjoys working on the event and shooting what he refers to as ‘'a high level of design''.

“New Zealand Fashion Week has high production values. The designers are all of top quality and I enjoy coming here because it’s a well-run event by Pieter Stewart.”

The group show 'Choose Wool' was up next.

Dmonic Intent/Syre Show at 2015 NZ Fashion Week.

Dmonic Intent/Syre Show at 2015 NZ Fashion Week. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Liz Mitchell also went long on skirts, in what became the theme of the day. Camel, brown and black make up her palette for Autumn and Winter 2016 (AW16). Structured midi dresses were worn over pants. Tasselled chunky-knit and fur shawls added a touch of glamour atop soft wool trench coats and fitted bodices. Black and blush were anything but boring, with Mitchell drawing on eye-catching details with an interplay of fabrics and texture. Sophistication and grown-up elegance with a hint of 1940s femininity are what you’ll see from her in the coming seasons.

Perriam went for a relaxed entrance with slouchy jumpers and loose-fit pants, and black and white stripes made an impact in what was largely a monochromatic collection. Hair was tight and wet close to the head, trailing down the nape of the neck. 

Wynn Hamlyn has a clever, exciting and imaginative knack with wool that I haven’t seen for a long time. He opened with a ribbed, structured body hugging dress in maroon, with pale blue detailing worked into the knit. His wool garments were beautifully executed, and he explores the limitations of his fabric: reconstructing pieces and placing them together in an unconventional way. He also takes the concept of the side split two steps further by creating even more splits in his skirts and dresses, allowing for additional movement and added interest.

Hailwood kicked into gear with hip-hop music to set the scene with some of his models hitting the runway in beanies, skinny jeans, and monochromatic patterned knit stripes in both sweaters and skirts. A black wool suit in the mix proves that he can appeal to a diverse customer where age is not a barrier.

Menswear label, French 83, had me wishing I was a guy with slicker-than-slick silver grey suits, sharp bowties and accessories. Here, the sophisticated gentleman is covered, along with the studious collegiate, and not to mention the cool guy who needs to chill out in cropped pants and matching suit jacket with an easy white T-shirt thrown on underneath. A blush-coloured suit in the collection also added "wow" factor.

Carlson oozed femininity with wool jackets layered over slinky skirts and sparkly dresses: black and navy blue tying her looks together.

Sabatini opened with greys and black; going long on coats with strategically placed fringed detailing; "cover-you-up" shawls married the concept of a poncho and a snuggly wrap around top.

Syre and Dmonic Intent showed together just after midday, to an enthusiastic and supportive audience.

Syre was up first with a dark, edgy collection dressing the boys and girls with an amalgamation of gothic punk and hard-edged sportswear. Quilted black and charcoal shell tops and jackets were the strength of the collection.

An array of architectural headwear provided an other-worldly and dramatic element to Dmonic Intent’s collection, which can only be described as rich and regal. A use of metallics, Asian brocades, and luxurious red accents popping against black, with stripes, pewter and gold, added to a strong and surprising collection. Dmonic Intent’s strength lies in their attention to form where sharp shoulders, long gowns, jewelled Edwardian collars and necklaces, plus a mix of fabrics and texture, made for a show worth seeing.

New Generation Show at 2015 NZ Fashion Week.

New Generation Show at 2015 NZ Fashion Week. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Colin Mathura Jeffree attended the Dmonic Intent show and sees the value in designers extending themselves.

“Being in fashion for 25 years, I’ve always liked the super creativity and we go to Fashion Week to be inspired. There were certainly some pieces here in Dmonic Intent that really did push the boundaries, and I love that about fashion.”

The New Generation show was up next, with Slaeve presenting a cohesive menswear collection. Black, whites and grey oversized t-shirting in sturdy, boxy cuts, cut off sleeves, long button down shirts, layering and hoodies featured in the range.

Fortunately, Third Form didn’t take us back to high school, but offered a slightly different take on easy tailored pieces in mostly black and white, with a single red asymmetric dress thrown into the mix.

Jordan Holliday had a multitude of ideas presented as a collection that could be narrowed down. Models walked the runway with partially white painted faces. Raw edges and oversized shapes took me back to the audience back to the BBC series History: Vikings, and it will be of interest to see how the label evolves over time. New Zealand can always do with more menswear. Period.

Rose Jackson, from Glory Days Magazine, saw the show and says that the stretch fabrics didn’t quite appeal to her vintage tastes:

“It was quite post-apocalyptic. I love vintage fashion, fitting and tailoring, so it wasn’t for me, but it’s definitely that new silhouette of quite grungy, oversized and unisex,” she says. 

Four Eyes photographer Danny Simmons says the New Generation Show is always a highlight.

“It’s something a bit different and you never know what you’re going to see. I liked Third Form. It’s a very New Zealand aesthetic. Very black, but then there are little bits that are sophisticated [with] really nice tailored flares and that kind of thing.”

Nom*D followed the new gen show, setting the scene with Sam Hunt’s voice reciting poetry over music. Alex Blanco, another photographer for the Four Eyes blog, was impressed: “It was a really interesting show. It always pushes boundaries, it’s a bit more creative and they do lots of layering. Maybe it’s not so commercial as other designers. The styling’s quite unique. They had boots covered with stockings and the colour palette was quite neutral apart from some burgundys.”

NOM*d Show at 2015 NZ Fashion Week.

NOM*d Show at 2015 NZ Fashion Week. Photo: rNZ / Diego Opatowski

I asked Alex what he looks for when attending what is now his fourth year of New Zealand Fashion Week.

“From our perspective it’s an indication of where things in New Zealand are going. So for us, in what we do [with] street style, it shows us what we’ll be seeing on the streets and where trends are going.”

Andrea Moore offered up a candy-coloured confection of playful prints and endless hues. Chatting to her the night before left me without a doubt that she planned to impress. By all accounts, she came up with the goods.

Gold foil rained down as models made their way down the runway.

There was a sophisticated fun mix of heavier weight brocades, interspersed with silks and statement knitwear. Black wasn’t left out of the equation, but merely played out as a backdrop to the bursts of purple, blue, red and denim hues.

Skirt lengths varied from mini to midi and back to knee-length proportions. Moore got the fashion week party started, and it’s bound to keep going until the release of her exciting collection.

At the end of the evening, Kate Sylvester was running 45 minutes behind schedule, but she too, gave us what we had hoped to see, and more. 

 Richie McCaw at the Kate Sylvester Show at 2015 NZ Fashion week.

Richie McCaw at the Kate Sylvester Show at 2015 NZ Fashion week. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Her AW16 ‘A Muse’ collection showcased beautiful pleats, slim-line soft trenches and coats, pencil skirts and midi dresses – a tried and true staple of previous collections – in an understated palette, amidst lovely lace, elegant suits and everything in between. All the while sticking to what she does best: creating feminine classics that will go on from season to season. 

Check in on Sonia's blog Sly on the Wall with her thoughts on getting through Fashion Week, with photo updates on her Instagram: @slyonthewall and Twitter: @slyonthewall

25 August 2015

Photographers were eagerly buzzing around outside Auckland's Viaduct Event Centre last night in the hopes of snapping celebrity guests and the stylishly endowed. New Zealand Fashion Week had arrived.

Amongst the familiar faces was designer Andrea Moore, who attended with friends. She advised that Fashion Week tends to be rather isolated for designers who don’t get time to see other people's shows. When asked what she was looking forward to, she said back-to-back appointments: “We start selling at 9am the next morning [after a show] and that’s really exciting. We just want to squeeze in as many buyers as possible.”

She is excited about her collection, which involves lots of layering and intricacies, that will be put on show down the runway. She laughed when asked if she gets nervous before a show. “Yes, [but] showing is always fabulous.”

American designer Clavon Leonard arrived in a gold-detailed suit from his own range, Clavonswear. He’s on the hunt for new ideas.

“I’m looking forward to seeing some new looks for men. I’m looking for colours and shapes and seeing where the modern man is going in terms of suits and dressing.”

Clayvon quietly said that things are a little behind in New Zealand, but he’s attending Fashion Week with optimism.

“I’ve seen things that are a little bold and I’m looking forward to seeing a little more of it.”

Top New Zealand hairstylists, Bex Brent and Mana Dave are two of three mentors appointed to assist three emerging hairstylists from around the country as part of Hito Hot Talent, a project based around mentoring talent from the areas of modelling to styling, hairdressing and barbering, to make-up.

“We just want to help them through the experience of New Zealand Fashion Week, so that they get an understanding of what it means and what it involves behind the scenes,” Mana said.

Bex Brent said that working behind-the-scenes is like nothing else.  “You can’t beat a Fashion Week vibe, it’s like this well-oiled machine. You’ll often have a head hairdresser who's in charge – they’ll relay out to a group of worker bees of what they’re meant to do for a show, and then you get to see your work on the catwalk. It’s fun, and we really love that stressful atmosphere.”

Mana added that Fashion Week is all about collaboration and that hair and makeup must come together in conjunction with the designer’s vision and their garments — everyone pitches in to create a look. “It’s definitely a collaborative effort. It’s all about telling the same story.”

​​The first show of the event was the Exhibit Hair Show, which gave the audience a taste of different creative approaches to hair styling. Among those exhibiting were Toni and Guy, Kevin Murphy, Fabrik, Ryder, Premiere Hair and D & M.

Short introductory films for each hair salon explored diverse perspectives on design and stylists talked about their varying approaches and ethoses. The first presentation opened with a ballerina, followed swiftly by models with hard-edged, futuristic looks replete with short blunt bangs and dark manes.

Beautiful braids and ‘80s eye shadow was next down the runway, and one of my favourite presentations was a big hair don’t care-type display. Models with flattened ‘70s teased-out afros converged one-by-one at the end of the runway, where they were de-wigged by a stylist in full view of the audience to reveal beautiful, minimalist​ styles underneath. I adored the sleek, smoothed-down hairstyles with knots and finely woven braids trailing down backs.

The final presentation, “Redux”, was all about precision. Neo-gothic, punk girls dressed in black traipsed down the catwalk, their heads shaved with all but strategically-placed pieces remaining. The ​tufts​ were styled into stop-and-stare quiffs, edgy don’t-mess-with-me pigtails or tribal braids that wound their way around an otherwise shiny bald head.

New Zealand Fashion Week 2015 is off to a great start. Plenty more where that came from, please.

24 August 2015 - Launch of New Zealand Fashion Week

Models at New Zealand Fashion Week

Models at New Zealand Fashion Week Photo: New Zealand Fashion Week

Tonight is the official launch of New Zealand Fashion Week 2015. For the designers, there will be garments to press, finishing touches to apply and models to be fitted. The pressure will be on until the second before their models strut down the catwalk.

Most shows are happening from Tuesday to Thursday, then  New Zealand Fashion Weekend really gets underway, providing a chance for the public to watch in-season runway shows starting with Kate Sylvester on Friday night.

Here are some of my picks for the week ahead:

Twenty Seven Names showcase their collection Still Life on Tuesday morning.  I’ve been following the label since its inception and their collections continue to evolve and grow as they do—always with the spirit of youthful modern, tailored pieces for daytime casual chic.

Wynn Hamlyn has piqued my curiosity and will be presenting as part of the Choose Wool show alongside six other designers. Judging by his AW15 collection, which featured jumpers and knitted skirts adorned with a collection of well-placed tassels, it will be interesting to see how far he pushes the woolly envelope and quirky details.

Itzme, Julian Danger and Lucilla Gray will have me leaping out of bed on Wednesday.  I love seeing young designers grow. Just quietly, I was told that Lucilla will be presenting more of an installation rather than a runway show. Having interviewed her in the lead-up, I await her off-site show with bated breath.

Harman Grubisa and Stolen Girlfriends Club shows are later that evening, with the latter likely to be the hottest ticket in town that night. It’s Stolen Girlfriends 10th birthday bash after all, and true to form they have entitled their collection, Township Rebellion.

Since my pseudo-gothic high school days, Zambesi and Nom*D have had me obsessed.  Always on the lookout for how the designers continue to modernise and rethink layering, I’m looking forward to their masterful collections.

Touted as a highlight from the success of the previous year, the Miromoda collection consists of 13 indigenous designers and it’s a show that NZFW organisers don’t want anyone to miss.

Bring it on!

Collection items

Sonia Sly

Sonia Sly on New Zealand Fashion Week 2015.

Sonia also writes about fashion on her blog Sly On The Wall.