iD Dunedin Fashion Week: Designer showcase (+video)

By Dan Ahwa

There was a moment in yesterday's public lecture with former fashion director for the The Daily Telegraph Hilary Alexander, where I was reminded of the importance of the location shoot when it comes to editing fashion.

Alexander showcased her extensive portfolio of stunning fashion images shot mostly by acclaimed photographer John Swannell, on exotic locations such as Mongolia and Bhutan, presenting fashion with a kind of archaeological eye.

Last night's location of choice for the 13th annual iD Dunedin Fashion Show was again held at the iconic Dunedin Railway Station, re-enforcing that connection between placing clothes in an environment that can leave a lasting impression.

With it's beautiful architectural history, the heritage building provided an appropriate backdrop for some of Dunedin's favorite designers to showcase their winter 2012 collections.

18 designers were selected to show based on their connection to Dunedin, with a combination of Dunedin natives and those with stockists in Dunedin.

Auckland based label Ruby showcased its retro-future inspired collection of metallic separates, with sister label Liam presenting sleek tailored coats and trouser suits. Both label's provided the perfect tonic to that quintessential Dunedin aesthetic of dark poetics spearheaded by local heroes Nom*D and Mild Red.

In addition, five emerging designers from the Otago Polytechnic School of Design also had some runway time with their final-year collections.

Fiona Clements, Molly Barrington, Grace Averis, Jojo Ross, and Phillip Hawkins were selected from a field of 24, with the Otago Polytechnic's School of Design academic leader and principal lecturer in Fashion Margo Barton encouraging the student's innovative use of new technologies in fashion design.

"These stand-out collections embrace technology, using metal, plastic, wood, laser etching and sustainable pattern cutting" said Barton. "It shows the public what they can expect from fashion in the future and the depth and breadth of fashion design talent coming out of the Otago Polytechnic."

Smaller collections were also shown under the capsule collections umbrella featuring five designers: Cherry Cotton Candy, Burtenshaw, Jane Sutherland and two new labels, Undone and DEVa'L.

Undone continued in that Dunedin tradition of that romantic goths, with a contrasting leather and cowhide jacket complete with studded detailing making an impressive turn down the runway.

Hosted once again by TV3's John Campbell, the show was a strong affirmation that iD Dunedin Fashion Week has come a long way, with a polished outing thanks to its generous sponsors and the iD Dunedin organizing committee. The second and final show takes place tonight.

Highlights

1. Dunedin retailer and designer Marie Strauss showcased a strong collection for her third showing at the show with her label DADA vintage, focusing on boxy wool coats and a sleek silk pajama suit. Special mention to the way the models nonchalantly held their coats over the shoulder.

2. The white pleated dresses from Mild Red was a refreshing look from the Dunedin stalwart.

3. The poignant moment when Caroline Moore's collection came out. The designer, who specialized in leather, passed away last year.

4. New Zealand's Next Top Model judge Colin Mathura-Jefree strutting out in a full tartan suit by Mister. The collection also reminded me that the menswear knits (particularly the polka dot print sweaters) are some of the most joyful pieces of menswear available at the moment.

5. The models walking a bit faster at Lutz Huelle, special guest designers. Their collection is also worth mentioning for it's deconstructed tailoring and strong outfits on each individual model.

Personal Picks

Favourite styling: Company of Strangers. Platform converse shoes worn with fluoro socks provided the perfect contrast the the label's dark draping; and points for Tamsin Cooper's admirable effort, styling her section with fresh floral headpieces. A floor length velvet green dress complete with peacock feather embroidery was also a standout, highlighting an art deco/20s mood that is currently seeing a resurgence abroad.

Best soundtrack: Jolene by Dolly Parton at Charmaine Reveley. Heard it at many shows before, but still manages to make an impact.

Best accessory: Hilary Alexander's metal tribal neck pieces throughout the week. A fashion magpie/archeologist approach to dressing that highlights why sometimes in fashion, consistency is king.

Biggest room for improvement: Sullen-faced models moving at a glacial pace along the 110-metre-long catwalk for two and a half hours. This might be fine at a ten-minute industry show, but this is a public event, so it wouldn't hurt for some of the models to crack a smile and enjoy the night alongside the punters.

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