A strip of light shines throughout the year as design students work long and hard into the night in their fourth floor Otago Polytechnic building.
Last Friday, all that hard work came to fruition as the Hub was lit up for the spectacle that was COLLECTIONS/17.
The event was accompanied by the school’s DEBRIEF exhibition, which displayed the talents of graduating Otago Polytechnic fashion, communication, interior and product design students from the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
COLLECTIONS/17 showcased the work of the design school’s fashion students from the Otago Polytechnic School of Design and visiting student designers from Shanghai University of Engineering and International Fashion Academy (IFA) Paris.
Opening the show’s graduate section was Dunedin-born designer and contemporary weaver Phoebe Ryder.
With a colour palette of green, red, and black with navy running through, Ryder’s collection used entirely self-woven fabrics, styled with sou’wester hats.
Ryder used traditional artisan weaving to construct her outfits, using techniques passed through generations of weavers. Each intricate piece showed a high level of skill and an extensive dedication of time to her practice.
« My work does not set out to be flawless. It embraces the beauty and imperfection, and holds a charm that could never be recreated by a machine. »
She received two awards for « Top Collection » and « Top Student », a title which was shared with classmate Dylan McCutcheon-Peat.
Ryder’s collection was followed by a confluent curation of designs from the polytechnic’s graduating students.
Standout pieces included Ruby Lin’s plant-dyed garments, adorned with flowers made from the remnants of her minimal waste pattern-cutting, Eden Sloss’ ethical skate-brand fashion using only hemp and bamboo fabrics and Lillian Cotter’s hand embroidered pieces from artistic influence.
Concluding the graduate section was McCutcheon-Peat with his collection « Is he a tomgirl? ».
McCutcheon-Peat says it is his aim to « encourage a different way of perceiving what masculinity can be ».
McCutcheon-Peat’s design combines traditional tailoring and transformational reconstruction (TR) cutting, a complex design technique that creates shape through drape, cutting and inserting volume.
His work asks the audience to « question the sexual semiotics of clothing by breaking the rules we associate with gender expression ».
On the night, the collection was well-received by an audience of family, friends, the Dunedin public and industry experts.
Special guest Denise L’Estrange-Corbet, designer, author and founder of New Zealand made fashion brand WORLD, said his androgynous endeavour was the standout collection of the night.
The second part of the event commenced with a presentation of collections by the visiting student designers from Shanghai University of Engineering and IFA Paris.
These collections are presented as part of the Shanghai-Dunedin Sister City Fashion Communication Project and add diversity to the show, portraying fashion from a different perspective.
Next, Otago Polytechnic head of design Caroline Terpstra invited international fashion event organiser Madame Zhou to present the China Cup Award to Otago Polytechnic 2016 design honours graduate Ariane Bray, who placed second.
The China Cup is an international fashion design competition for clothing inspired by Chinese culture.
Bray’s submission incorporated her experience living and studying in China.
Her collection « mixes structure and tailored details to represent contemporary China, juxtaposed by drape and textile manipulations that reflect age and history ».
Bray’s textiles are created by hand as she « distorts the fabric to add my personal connection to each garment ».
Every aspect of her collection is enriched with her experiences in China, right down to the colour palette that alludes to « traditional Chinese architecture, particularly inspired by the Yuyuan gardens ».
« The black, burgundy, off white and gold reference the slated roofs, peeling paint and ornate decorations around the gardens. »
As part of her selection, Bray was flown to Shanghai to present her designs, and later participated in the China Cup Awards fashion show.
A selection of individual projects by the Polytechnic’s first- and second-year fashion design students, portrayed an assortment of well-refined silhouettes and textiles. This was followed by an exhibition of the labels created by second-year student groups for industry stores Void, Slick Willy’s, Belle Bird, Company Store, and Charmaine Reveley, showing great potential for this year group as they move into their final year of the bachelor of design (fashion) programme.
L’Estrange-Corbet presented graduating bachelor of design (fashion) student Katharina Stapper with an eight-week WORLD Fashion internship, which included a prize of $5000 from the Newmarket Business Association.
Stapper said she was honoured to receive the award.
« When it was announced it was overwhelming. It’s such an honour to receive the award and internship because it is such an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to start. »
The last recipient of this prize, Ivy Jackson-Mee, still works for WORLD today.
The show continued with the second stream of postgraduate students to complete the programme, highlighted by fashion designer Georgia Ferguson and with her label F U R G.
The collection was crafted in hues of blue, orange, grey and navy with blond wood and copper-toned notions.
Ferguson said her fashion workings were « the antithesis of fast fashion; they are crafted to last in both a physical and emotional sense ».
She said F U R G was in many ways « about sustainability, and the capacity of fashion to outlast trends and maintain a connection with the consumer over many years ».
Adding that « aside from a commitment to quality construction and fabric, it is only through a careful analysis of the quiet beauty that lies in our everyday, that such an intimate relationship between consumer and clothing can be forged ».
Ferguson’s beeswax coated handcrafted bags were also a favoured product, selling out at the student run Pop-Up Shop that ran alongside the exhibition.