NZ Fashion Week designers: What were you thinking?

By Zoe Walker

Viva gives you an exclusive preview of what five designers will be showcasing at New Zealand Fashion Week - and we find out the story behind each collection.

Hailwood's signature Spanish blue lady print features on the dress, worn by model Olivia from Nova, which will open the show. Photo / Babiche Martens
Hailwood's signature Spanish blue lady print features on the dress, worn by model Olivia from Nova, which will open the show. Photo / Babiche Martens

Hailwood

Named after his beloved mother Catherine, Adrian Hailwood's newest collection will be presented at NZFW next Tuesday; with a focus on grown-up glamour and simplicity. Based loosely around a trip to Spain and an old matador jacket Hailwood picked up while there, the range features a palette stripped back to black and white, with touches of navy. As Hailwood explains, it's about a return to luxe glamour.

"The initial idea came from the vintage matador jacket which has progressed into eveningwear with black beading and intricate embroidery throughout," he explains. "There are a couple of sharply tailored suits and the Hailwood printed fabrics, which are synonymous with the brand, are woven throughout the collection." Hailwood's signature Spanish blue lady print features on the dress (pictured in this article) which will open the show. Made from duchess silk satin with trim, the dress is worn with bold woven rope belts that will feature throughout the range. Hailwood has named it the "Zora" dress, after friend Zora Boyd who is producing the show and creating various pieces of jewellery - which will include silver chokers featuring semi-precious stones.

Helen Cherry

Helen Cherry hasn't shown at NZFW since 2005, but will make a return this year with an anticipated evening show alongside Workshop Denim at the Auckland Town Hall next Thursday - a venue that will reflect the elegance of the evening and clothes on the runway. "We wanted a venue that we thought was fitting," explains Cherry. "It's a beautiful, iconic, historic Auckland building, and it has a lovely grandeur about it." The venue also brings back memories for Cherry and her partner Chris: they held a fashion show and party there in 1990, when Workshop was known as Streetlife.

Helen Cherry's return to the NZFW schedule will see her work with London-based stylist Jamie Huckbody, the former editor of Harpers Bazaar Australia and current European editor at large of Russh. It's a longstanding collaboration and friendship - he has worked with Cherry on her seasonal campaigns for about 10 years. "He just happened to be in this neck of the woods; he was heading back to Australia, so we bent his arm to come over to New Zealand," she explains.

The collection Cherry and her team will present on the runway next week has no real theme or concept, but acts as an evolution from past ranges. "To me, the clothes should speak for themselves really." As always, the initial ideas begin with the fabric, and there is a subtle reference to a Yves Saint Laurent, Helmut Newton "Le Smoking" vibe - evident in the sleeveless matte triacetate satin pantsuit; "a combination of those masculine and feminine elements".

"It has that lovely movement - it's not fitted, but it's not loose or baggy, it skims the body. There is really something sexy about it in a subtle way," Cherry explains.

"I always design for what I call 'real women', and I was thinking of a woman who was very well bred, very glamorous, well groomed - a very confident, intelligent woman who wants comfortable clothes that suit her lifestyle. They are clothes that she can put on, that are effortless, but then she forgets about them and she gets on with her life. To me, that's the epitome of designing a great collection."

Jimmy D

The image of a light silk falling on to a bed of spikes sparked the initial inspiration for James Dobson, who will present the latest collection for his label Jimmy D next Wednesday. Called "It's a Kind of Magick", Dobson says the range is informed by a notion of something very brutal contrasted with something more ethereal. "From there I started imagining a futuristic clan of witches, and took inspiration from the digital collage work of Auckland artist Andrew McLeod, who I have worked with again this season." Think of a metaller girl evolving with new mystical and magical powers.

So yes, that means a fair bit of black, a colour that is a Jimmy D signature. "My love for black is still firmly intact so don't expect any radical re-invention there," he says. "But there is some colour, some pretty extreme new silhouettes, an amazing fabric print, and a new aspect to the collection we're looking forward to showing."

McLeod's fabric and placement prints will feature throughout the collection, digitally and screen printed on T-shirting pieces and mesh tops. "We wanted to reference the quintessential metal tee with its printed arms, but re-contextualise it." Dobson says to also expect lots of asymmetrical draped silhouettes - "we wanted pieces that felt ethereal, yet also tribal".

An outfit to bring forth all the elements of the collection would feature the silk georgette asymmetric tail gown, worn over an Andrew McLeod printed mesh top with a Jimmy D leather harness to finish the effect.

Celine Rita

Designer Celine Chapman will make her solo NZFW début next week, marking a big step forward for the fledgling label she established in 2008. Chapman was part of the New Generation show at Fashion Week last year, but this year wanted to push herself and her brand. "Showing at NZFW last year as part of the New Gen show really was huge for Celine Rita as a label. I felt it was extremely important to keep the momentum going after last year's NZFW, and the Contemporary Salon Show is the perfect way to do so," explains Chapman, who hopes to increase brand awareness as well as increase wholesale accounts here and in Australia.

The collection she will present come Wednesday furthers her fledgling brand's focus on "quirky prettiness", but errs into something darker than usual. The idea behind the Celine Rita winter collection was originally sparked by research Chapman had done for her current in-season range, which was inspired by the sunny coastlines of America, with 90s influences taken from sitcoms and soaps. "I was still really feeling all of this when the time to design for winter came around, so it all kind of evolved on from that. While summer focused on lighter and cuter 1990s influences, winter has headed in the direction of the darker, almost creepier side of 90s culture, and the fascination with witchcraft and the supernatural." But don't expect it to be all black and moody: one of Chapman's first pieces in the collection was a tailored boyfriend blazer in a silk cotton "ballet" print - a print Chapman says helped inspire the rest of the fabric choices for the range.

Salasai

Will the front row have a holy experience at the Salasai show on Tuesday night? Designer Kirsha Whitcher will present her latest collection "Unchartered Territory" at St Matthew-in-the-City, looking to the heritage, history and culture of old-England and the Anglo Saxon movement during the 5th century AD. Whitcher says the challenge for her brand this season and NZFW was seeing how they can develop into something more luxe, but still with that signature Salasai effortlessness, accessibility and unisex appeal, with male and female models walking the runway at St Matthews.

Key pieces from the collection include a standout floor-length tartan smock dress, merino knitted sleeved trench coats, a special Salasai brooch made by local jeweller Nick Von K, and the printed silk, raw edged blouse. The blouse is made from original Salasai heritage tartan, which was inspired by Whitcher's research into old England; while the collar reflects another recurring theme throughout the range. There is also a bold tartan silk wool fabric and print, developed in different weights to create consistency, uninterrupted colour and texture.

"The idea behind our show is to really showcase the direction for this season as well as build on the success of our show from 2010," explains Whitcher. "Despite the pressure and expectation, the show will highlight how we've evolved as a label and showcase the feel of our Salasai men and women - unassuming, strong and otherworldly."

- NZ Herald

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