Dressing up: What were you thinking?

By Zoe Walker

Designers talk us through their creative process - from the spark of an idea to the final product.

Sherie Muijs' 'Churchward' orange raincoat, $725. Photo / Supplied
Sherie Muijs' 'Churchward' orange raincoat, $725. Photo / Supplied

SHERIE MUIJS

"Churchward" orange raincoat, $725.

The idea behind the raincoats in the winter range stemmed from an ex-tutor, respected mentor and good friend Linda Jones. After moving here from London she soon discovered the need for waterproof raincoats within a fashion context that have the same integrity that, say, a tramping raincoat may have; this discovery formed the basis of her Masters project. After seeing her designs and talking through her ideas I knew that this had to go into production. I selected a number of pieces from her designs that best fit in with the Sherie Muijs aesthetic and put these raincoats into production.

It wasn't easy finding manufacturers in New Zealand who could do seam-sealing, an essential detail if these jackets were to be fully waterproof. After searching high and low, I had all but given up when almost by chance I stumbled across a factory who could seam-seal the raincoats.

Once I'd sought out quality waterproof fabrics, ensured that they were seam-sealable, it was all go. The "Churchward" raincoat has a detachable hood that is studded on with an opening through the centre front with flaps to ensure water cannot get in. My favourite detail is the fleece-lined pockets to keep your hands nice and cosy. This piece has been designed as one size with room to move and space to accommodate winter layers.

What started as an experiment has ended up with a result that I have fallen in love with and I am so excited that these are now apart of the Sherie Muijs story.

INGRID STARNES

"Myrtle" silk pleated skirt, $585.

Fabric is always a huge inspiration, and also the details of craft like the embroidery, pin-tucking, honeycomb stitching, cut-outs, coiling and shearing. I try to make things that women will hopefully love to wear for a long time rather than for a season. For winter there wasn't a unifying theme, apart from trying to make something special with every piece.

With the "Myrtle" skirt I was inspired by a vintage silk skirt a friend of mine had bought me years ago. The skirt was one of the last pieces added to the collection and I felt that it really brought it together.

As the skirt is a natural fabric it won't hold pleats like a polyester - so they had to be stitched-in. This is pretty fabric intensive, meaning that this skirt has around 3.5m of silk. I used silk as it drapes beautifully and it is such a luxury fabric - I really wanted this skirt to be a special item. The skirt is very high-waisted and the stitched-in pleats are all shaped to corset your waist in.

We made this because we loved it but did wonder how a skirt with a lot more silk than most dresses might sell. The economics around silk get crazier and crazier all the time - it seems like every week we get a letter from a supplier telling us they have to raise all silk costs, so it is really great to see that it had such a good reception. It actually sold out and we had to do another small production run. It's so cool to see that doing something just because you love it can work out for the best.

STOLEN GIRLFRIENDS CLUB

"Quiet Riot" maxi skirt in hydrangea yardage print, $389.

[Designer Marc Moore says] We were inspired by partying for this collection. Personally, I was highly single at the time and going out a lot more than your average person. I was thinking of a gang of people who crashed house parties and made them cooler - even to the point of changing the music. I also thought about the aftermath of the house party - empty bottles everywhere, ciggie butts, strangers sleeping in your living room - all that stuff that feels good at the time but in retrospect makes us want to hurl.

Cigarette butts played an integral part of the theme of the collection - being that they are always scattered everywhere the morning after a party; stuck to your shoes, stuck in your hair, if you slept on the floor. With the print, I loved the idea of creating a bed of butts, that had beautiful hydrangea flowers sprinkled over the top - basically to create a juxtaposition from two quite opposing objects, one beautiful and the other disgusting.

We ran this as a standard screen yardage print, which means they print the design continually on rolls of fabric. The style of the design itself was based on an old punky style, a bit Warhol, a bit Stephen Sprouse. There was a lot of black and white to give it a photocopy, lo-fi feel, then the flowers were in bright purple to give the print an iconic feeling that had pop.

We probably could have been a bit more confident with the garments we offered the print in - the offering was fairly limited as it was the first print we had developed by ourselves and we had no idea how it would be perceived. In terms of actual fabrications, we were also limited, mainly due to high printing minimums for each fabrication. We chose silk georgette for girls' dresses, viscose acetate lining to line all our jackets and pants, and a cotton denim for our jeans line and some coats.

Stores really liked the print in general and definitely bought into the pieces that we offered. But I also think retailers felt a certain pressure as the media really loved the print too - when the media like a print, they are going to push it to consumers. In turn consumers are going to go directly to their closest retailer - and they expect the retailer to have what's "cool", right? I think it's great that the media push the boundaries when it comes to fashion; if they don't then no one will. Nine times out of 10, retailers would much prefer to buy a style that wasn't too challenging to sell and I can understand this - they have a business to run so moving units is integral - but they also need to continue to inspire their clients. Perhaps this is why I don't have my own retail store though! There would probably be a little too much of the "inspired" pieces and not enough of the volume pieces.

I'd like to see more men wearing prints. The print didn't sell super-well on the men's side and it's a real shame. Men should be incorporating some print into their wardrobe - I'm not saying head to toe print, which can be very bad, but how about a printed shirt under a plain coat?

Stockists: Ingrid Starnes (09) 361 3322, Sherie Muijs (09) 629 2044, Stolen Girlfriends Club (09) 358 1191.

- NZ Herald

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