Expert Eye: Ingrid Starnes

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A model wears a creation by Ingrid Starnes. Photo / NZ Fashion Week
A model wears a creation by Ingrid Starnes. Photo / NZ Fashion Week

For someone in only her fifth season, Ingrid Starnes is incredibly assured - she is a designer who knows what she is and what she wants her label to be, and has quietly built up a following with women who like to look appropriate.

Case in point? The number of Ingrid Starnes pieces in the audience at her debut NZ Fashion Week show this morning (from my seat, I counted about seven women wearing it).

The collection, titled Arcadia, was loosely inspired by childhood memories; playing in the haunted house next door in the vintage furs and 1940s dresses of a 60-something babysitter.

But it's a subtle 1940s influence: Starnes is less inspired by themes and more by fabrics, trims, details, and it is these little things that make an Ingrid Starnes piece special.

It's in the lace edging on a silk playsuit, the vintage inspired floral print, the piping along a pocket's edge, the cut outs and panelling on a tailored dress (the furs carried by some of the models touched on the initial inspiration).

The most beautiful piece in the collection showcased Starnes' appreciation for detail and old fashioned traditions of dressmaking: a high-necked dress with incredible pleated pintucking detail at the chest, in a stand out orange.

Also stand out was the palette - navy teamed with beige panels, black with gold edging, a beautiful mustard-y yellow, peaches and raspberry. An exclusive floral print came in various dyes; the most impressive in yellow.

Starnes' aesthetic is distinctly vintage, but certain pieces felt like modern takes on classics: like a beige wool skirt suit, with cropped blazer and long, tailored pencil skirt.

What she needs to be wary of is the Kate Sylvester factor: Starnes worked in the designer's workroom for three years before leaving to have children, and in some pieces the influence is clear - like the lingerie, which has long been a Sylvester signature.

But Starnes seems smart, so she's is no doubt more than aware of all of that.


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