Whitecliffe Fashion Show 2013

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Wow it’s been a long time since we’ve posted. Since I moved up to Auckland, my brother’s been busy finishing his honours installation and now he’s flown over to Shanghai to participate in a Design Biennale. As for me, I’ve been adjusting to inner city life (it’s a little depressing sometimes), hanging out with a (now good) friend who is a composer and enjoying having a musical outlet again. (FYI I play the cello, I was *this* close to pursuing a performance career over the more conventional corporate route).

Just over two weeks ago, my brother and I attended the Whitecliffe Fashion Show 2013 which showcased the collections of the Year 2, 3 and 4 fashion students attending Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design. (Thanks Leanne for arranging tickets despite the late notice, it was much appreciated). While this was my first time attending, my understanding is that the fashion school at Whitecliffe which places relatively more emphasis on the development of ideas and concepts than other fashion institutes such as AUT, so I was interested to see whether this would carry through the collections we saw from the students.

It was an incredibly long show featuring 46 different designers, here were some of the collections my brother and I particularly enjoyed seeing.

Year Two



Essentially, the collection was an sculptural exploration of the clash of East and West through the medium of clothing. The juxtaposition of hard, body armour like leather contrasting with light moments of transparency from the use of mesh and sheer was perhaps an analogy of often contrasting approaches that the East and West.


The pleated skirts with the boots strapped to traditional Japanese geta shoes gave collection a sharp East Asian aesthetic, while textiles he used made heavy reference to street and sports wear, which is generally a Western clothing style. Perhaps I related to this collection more given my own background, but I enjoyed the fluidity with which Kingkang’s collection moved between Western and Eastern clothing traditions, combining Hakamas (the long pleated skirts) with tailored collared shirts, and sportwear mesh with wooden gedas in a conceptually cohesive collection.


JESSIE DAY | The Sleep of Reason

Here my lack of art history knowledge betrays me. The programme informs the reader this collection by Jessica was an exploration of the darkness, tension and the beauty of Goya’s paintings. My cursory research tells me Goya was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker for the Spanish court during the late 1700s, who is best renown for his dramatic, modern depictions of fantasy nightmares, as well as his depiction of the plight of the Spanish people, executed with his impressive technical command rivalling those equal to the “Old masters”, which is presumably where Jessie drew her inspiration from.

The-Milkmaid-of-Bordeaux Christ-on-the-Mount-of-Olives


Steven particularly liked this collection – the wide pleats going right down to the bottom of the long skirts created dramatic vertical lines from the waist, while the form-fitting upper body was comprised of layered garments weaving in and out of each other. It comes as no surprise to me that both Manet and Francis Bacon claim to have been influenced by Goya – turns out the dramatic lighting combined with the expressive, extremely emotive strokes emblematic of Manet and Bacon have a common inspiration.


The hoods as well as the fastenings gave the clothing a distinct 18th century feel, and the sharp shadows cast by the hoods seemed to make reference to the way Goya played so much with light in his works.


Despite the 18th century look, the cutting of the garments made it look strangely new, with the curved lines tracing the figure of the body and the layered pieces going in and out of one another looking strangely futuristic.


BENJAMIN FARRY | Reign of Virginity


I would rather be a beggar and single than a queen and married. — Elizabeth I  


For a collection that was entirely comprised of white, there was something incredibly menacing about the whole thing. It was the little things that made it sinister – the black spots instead of eyebrows and the shiny black shoes were such a sharp contrast to the billowing floating white dresses. In adulation of the Virgin Queen, Benjamin seems to have taken chastity belts and turned them into big leather bows as an outward symbol of purity and chasteness.


The colour white is traditionally symbolic of neutrality, innocence, and purity, hence why it is the traditional colour for wedding dresses. However this doesn’t quite accord with what the collection gets across to the audience – it was more about the inner indulgence, a weighty power and presence gained through achieving purity.





In taking the clothing worn by goldminers, Mania turned functional work-wear turned into something highly sartorial through the use of luxurious and bright fabrics. The use of “nice” fabrics like silks and satins has transformed functional clothing into an overglorified aesthetic.


The interior of the garments are more luxurious than the outside at times, and the functional clothing aesthetic has been further refined by cinching and hitching up the lose-fitting shapes  to create a more elegant figure.

Year Three



This was another one of Steven’s favourites. The draping of the garments and the movement of the shapes made the outfits look as though they were dancers photographed in a blur of motion. The outfits captured the frozen movement perfectly, yet its blurred stillness still had its own flow to it. This was further emphasised by the fact the garments clung onto the body, as if it were trying not to fall off.


This effect was achieved through the combination of hard coarse fabrics pleated into lines butted up against flowing, liquid drapery. The directional lines of pleats, seams and the drapery pointed in a calculated way to create confused and conflicting angles all over the body, as if the dancer were mid-air twisting or moving between shapes.


The layers and different textiles worked to reveal and conceal one another, while the neutral colours mimicked the movements, tones and textures of flesh.





Schema was inspired by the Brutalist style and deconstructive approach of the artist Gordon Matta-Clark. Gordon Matta-Clark was a renown post-modernist artist from the 1970s, most famous for his work “Splitting”, where he literally cut an urban villa into two.  The underlying theme of Gordon’s works was the physical exploration and subversion urban architecture in a movement he described as “Anarchitecture”.

gordon-matta-clark-splitting-9-from-the-series-44-bw-photographs-1977Splitting – photo credit: Agma Magazine

The architectural elements come across strongly in his outfits, with features like the hard lines and high collars which restrict the body mimicking the structure of a building, and how it affects the way we move about in relation those buildings.




Nicole’s collection featured older models in outfits made from naturally dyed textiles. The hard lines created by the pleats echo the draping lines created by the twisted fabric.


The garments seem to respond to the clothing, as much as the clothing responds to the body – rather than inertly hanging off the body, the models walking really filled out the twists, drapes and pleats.


The brown fabric above was created through the use of onion skins as the dye, which also resulted in the beautiful patterns. A well-considered asymmetry in all of the oufits drew unusual lines on the body, making the form change shape.


BLAIR WHEELER | It ain’t hot in hell, it’s freezing


Blair’s collection was an exploration of the attire and equipment worn by the historical explorers of Antarctica.  I appreciated how he used the context of the materials he used to create an interesting taking on the functionality of clothing.

scott_1999797bRobert Falcon Scott and his expedition team. Photo credit:


Given the clothing worn by the Antarctic explorers, and materials used to make them were solely chosen on their functional qualities, by Blair in taking the same high-tech materials to create a ‘look’, he has removed the sense of brutal survivalism ordinarily associated with such materials.


Concept asides, the layered blacks really showed off the different textures, tones as well as the differences in the movement and construction of the outfits.  I’m not sure whether it was intentional or not, but there is a certain sense of utility in the clothing, with the finishings and fastenings giving it a slightly high-end high tech sportswear feel.


Year Four




I loved Kido’s collection – the play on the composition of the outfits through the use of contrasting white and black geometric blocks, the juxtaposition of rigid blocks with defined straight lines with the softly curving lines of draped fabrics.


Kido used leather to create sharp silhouettes, then fur to build volume and to blur the hard lines.

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What really held the collection together was the unusual geometry which Kido used to create a striking architectural aesthetic.


Well done to the designers who showed at the WFS2013, including the ones we weren’t able to feature in this article – I look forward to seeing how these talents are developed further in WFS2014, and the next steps forward for the graduating fourth years.

– Chris & Steven.

Author: Chris Park

One half of the Park Brothers. Purveyor of banter, curator of misc. Manage comms for @BuoyandMine. Read More

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