AUT Rookie Show 2013

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We were invited to attend the AUT Rookie show for the 2013 fashion graduates. In total, there were 24 collections showing, including four collaborations between textile and fashion students. There was a wide range of work, with each of the designers bringing in different aesthetic and cultural elements to create strong collections. I enjoyed seeing the work of recently graduated students; I felt a sort of empathy towards them as I had just finished my Honours year in fine arts at Elam. It was an impressive standard of work, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Amongst the 24, I saw some outstanding designers, who I felt presented strong collections with highly coherent ideas. Here are the designer which I liked the most for their innovation and ability to create strong bodies of work while at the same time being able to think about clothing as contextually loaded cultural phenomenon.

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Sophia Hattingh opened the shows with a stunning bronze leather dress with a dramatically low neckline and soft shoulders. She used a small diamond laser-cut motif throughout her collection, which changed the way that the fabrics moved on the body. The colours and textiles used played off light and reflective surfaces: muted metallics shone out against black and satins shimmered as they swayed around the form. The black patent leather shoes played on the reflective materials seen in the garments with a hard shine to the jet black. The laser-cutting of the leathers and satins were an interesting way of changing the movement and weight of the fabric. The cut-outs gave a transparency and lightness, and the diamond motif was echoed in the cutting of the garments. The matching bags paired with the dresses were a nice touch.

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Tom Press presented the collection which was undoubtedly my favourite. I loved the sober details and soft lines of the garments which worked within a limited colour range of dark, muted colours against black and white. Though he employed quite few different colours, I found that all of the outfits were considered and well put together with no tones clashing or looking awkward. The long, loose-fitting garments layered beautifully, with the individual pieces complimenting each other and working as a whole. The collarless shirts and drop-shoulder jackets gave the garments an oriental feeling, which was reinforced by the wide-legged trousers and layered, long tops. The stacking of layers became active about the knees and legs, covering the waistline with movements of fabric. This silhouette, along with the loose-fitting jackets and long scarves gave the already tall models a monumental presence. The total lack of superfluous detailing really appealed to me, and made the clothing focus solely on shape, colour, layering and texture. I felt this collection presented the strongest aesthetic and most coherent decision-making.

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Taylor Woodmass’s collection demonstrated a clever understanding of fabric and asymmetry. The garments kept to a light palette of off-whites and neutral; balancing between structured control of the fabric, and bunched knots in asymmetrical forms. I thought the knot fastenings to be referencing East-Asian clothing traditions, and this seemed to be carried through in the soft shoulders, and wide-fitting geometric shapes of the garments. It was refreshing to see a womenswear collection which employed mainly boxy, loose-fitting shapes. It thought some of the shapes and drapery looked a little misshapen and clumsy, but this only added intrigue to the complexities of the patterns and layers.

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Amie Berghan’s collection brought with it a feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time. The rough, natural fibres and earthy tones layered beautifully together, and the soft shapes gave the outfits a generally relaxed feeling. The over-sized jackets and long shirts over cuffed wide-leg pants were an interesting play on the male silhouette. The mandarin collars, padded coats and woven linen suggested references to clothing traditions outside of the West, which sat nicely against the oversized tweed jackets and brogue shoes. This collection painted a picture of an international nomad in the 1970s, which definitely had a romantic appeal.

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Each of Rya Allen’s garments were a feat of drapery and pattern-making. Each of the garments had moments of untouched fabric butted up against excessively bunched, pleated and gathered fabric to create huge volume. They looked as though they had been inflated in parts, then deflated in others. The control of the fabric was very impressive, and made for a highly dramatic collection. The over-the-top puffs and ruffles were given a humourous turn by being worn with sneakers and made from what could have easily been fabric used to make a wind-breaker. The playful garments created very unusual silhouettes which almost suggested a disguising of the human figure in parts and a revealing in others. The movement of the fabric responded beautifully to the strides of the models. Some of the colour choices didn’t seem to have much reasoning behind them, but the garments themselves spoke loudly enough for the collection.

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Jess Quinn’s collection was a humourous play on the male silhouette and sportswear. Motifs of large printed numbers and letters ran throughout the collection and all of the models wore white basketball trainers. The garments looked like common archetypes of Western, male clothing which had been oversized to the point where they no longer resemble the original archetypes. The graphic prints of large numbers and letters received the same treatment, becoming so large that they were difficult to read as they wrapped around the body and engulfed the figure. Some of the pieces were so enlarged that they resembled dresses, and some subtle pleats reinforced this switch between gender conventions. Although I could never see myself in any of these garments, I found the playful treatment of the ideas behind the collection very interesting and well articulated.

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Thistle Brown had an interesting collection of deceptively simple pieces. The boxy garments were made with from extremely simple patterns in a thick, stiff fabric. The fabric gave the garments their complexity, and in turn the simplicity of the patterns allowed for the fabric to speak. The garments featured bold graphic prints woven into them which created an interesting optical effects as they moved on the figure. It almost appeared as though the textile was fighting against the body as it flapped and shifted with an unnatural rigidity. Thistle’s collection had a simplicity to it which was very considered and well executed.

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Molly Daggar pulled in references from 1940s war time and balanced out the extremes of the feminine form and military masculinity of the time. All of the models wore leather combat boots and thick socks to finish off the look. The outfits went between military green wool and flowing satins. The high-waisted military jodphurs had had their thigh puffs moved up to the hips to accentuate the curves of the body and make the originally masculine garment into something feminine. Many of the garments featured long scarves tying into bows, which spilled out of stiff green wool or silk. The collection was a clever play between the masculine, and rigidity of gender convention of the time period referenced, and the feminisation of these forms.

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Maeve Song’s collection showed a controlled but playful use of raw denim, sweat jersey and nylon. The garments made heavy reference to streetwear, which was reinforced by the historical context of the materials. The raw denim against oversized flourescent sweatshirts, with big kicks and a huge nylon rain-jacket gave the outfits a feeling of luxury casual-wear; the original function of the materials had been shifted. The denim was given a sleek, almost oriental look with the crossover collar and sloped shoulders while the massive sweatshirts with large tartan skulls sewn onto them looked as though they would never be worn for sports. The nylon rainjacket worn as a coat was a nice finish to the show; it reiterated the idea of highly functional clothing becoming fashion pieces through a shift in context.

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– Steven. (Photos by Chris).,-auckland/events/rookie

Author: Steven Park

I live in Auckland and am currently doing my Honours in Fine Arts at Elam. I run a design label called "6x4", where I make clothing, furniture, home-ware and other exciting things. Say hello if you see me walking around! Read More

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