Philippa Bradley.Based around the 1920s, it more than ably captured
the charlestonKit Kat Club scene with plenty of tulle and ruffles
statement about ones duty to recycle was one of the clearest of
the night. Despite this, McGowan says that she is not on a campaign
to save the world
Charmaine Reveley.Floral prints, knitwear and patchwork made for a
colourful homage to the homemaking skills of an earlier era of New Zealand
How many events are willing to devote
a part to emerging talent without expecting any monetary compensation?
Or complement what is really a retail-targeted autumnwinter collection
with items that showcase student imagination?
ID Dunedins newest designers were three
graduates from Otago Polytechnic. Jack Yan
interviews Keita McGowan, Philippa Bradley and Charmaine Reveley
HAT MAKES Dunedin, New Zealand tick?
Dunedin is, in many ways, a student town. It probably
boasts the greatest number of out-of-town students, whose absence
during the holidays is felt in a city that seems to go quiet in
the height of summer. There is an open-mindedness towards young
peopleimagine the near-campus parts of Berkeley, California,
expanded over the area of an antipodean city.
Even that does not capture completely how this
city embraces its young. The ID Dunedin
Fashion Show, supported by local newspaper The
Otago Daily Times, is one testamenthow many events
are willing to devote a part to emerging talent without expecting
any monetary compensation? Or complement what is really a retail-targeted
autumnwinter collection with items that showcase student imagination?
Three graduates, selected by Otago
Polytechnic where they trained, had a chance to demonstrate
how far they could push the envelope with fashion. Charmaine Reveley,
Keita McGowan and Philippa Bradleys mini-collections on the
night were not meant to be practical, production-destined designs,
but an insight into their dreams and creativity. We did not
have to think about commercial reality, according to Bradley
in an interview with Lucire the following day.
Reveley showed a collection celebrating the spirit
of New Zealand womanhood, accompanied by The Tender Trap,
in a jazz rendition which they had to settle on to suit all three
designers works. Floral prints, knitwear and patchwork made
for a colourful homage to the homemaking skills of an earlier era.
A participant in Dunedins highly successful Fashion
Incubator programmefrom which Christina Perriam has emergedReveley
complemented her designs with matching handbags, belts and footwear.
I was trying to include complexity, but
how far do you go? asked Reveley. I had to stick to
detail, seaming without losing that complexity.
McGowans collection was more complex. Based
around the idea of recycling, she sourced fabrics from op shops
and her personal collection, so polka dots and 1970s floral
patterns took the audience back to some less than tasteful prints
and wallpaper. It is not to say McGowans work was tastelessin
fact, her statement about ones duty to recycle was one of
the clearest of the night. Despite this, McGowan says that she is
not on a campaign to save the world.
In future collections, she expects to create unique
items. While there would be a basic production skeleton, each garment
would be decorated in some way with a recycled element, e.g. a cuff.
Bradleys trans-seasonal collection was one
of the most delightful of the evening. Based around the 1920s, it
more than ably captured the charlestonKit Kat Club scene with
plenty of tulle and ruffles; we saw puffed hot pants, a 60-plus-year-old
fox stole (sourced specially from an op shop, since fur is rarely
displayed) and pearls that brought the 20s up to date. Bradley
has already been recognized at the Hokonui Fashion Awards and had
received mentoring from New York-based Rebecca
Taylor. I wanted people to think, she told Lucire.
But why the 1920s? I wished I had grown
up then, said Bradley. I love the style of clothing,
jewellery, music, sparkles and the tulle.
As could be seen from their collections, the three
emerging designers had markedly different personalities.
I found Reveley the thinker of the trio in the
next days interview with all three designers, contemplating
each question carefully before answering. Bradley proved to be relaxed,
certain with her direction and her future plans for her label; McGowan
came across as more rebellious, prepared to make a statementwith
hindsight, the three personalities could have been predicted from
viewing their work the night before. What also could be predictedeven
after a day in the citywas that there would be a bond between
the three young women. People here gel.
They tried to answer my opening question about
what made Dunedin tick. McGowan explained that it was Smaller
and more comfortable, something with which the others agreed.
You are recognized, said Bradleybut
as McGowan pointed out, it did not mean one was necessarily better
One of the boons of studying at Otago, they explained,
was the close-knit fashion design community. We are more practical
at Otago [Polytechnic], said McGowan. There was support from
local designer Tanya Carlsonwho
has made the pages of this magazine regularlynot to mention
Zambesi, Marilyn Sainty,
Nom D and World, established names in New Zealand and in export
Despite their very different styles, they shared
certain outlooks. Reveley believes in the personal level
when it comes to selling fashion, a comment with which Bradley agreed:
We dislike big-anything, [including] stores. They had
a definite stance toward corporate social responsibility, and while
it was, as McGowan pointed out, impossible to know the behaviours
of every company, they believed they would avoid companies that
didnt do good in their communities.
Their ambitions were clear. None of the trio had
plans to embark on their OEs (overseas
experiences), a Kiwi custom for many graduates who want to see the
world. Reveley said she wanted to see more of New Zealand itself,
while Bradley stated that she wished to ascertain her career path
first. Once settled, they talked of Paris, Roma, New York and even
Russia (for McGowan, who admits to a fascination for the country
through her coaching gymnastics).
For now, its building up those savings and
ensuring a solid, secure base for themselves. They abhor debt. It
may be a wise decisionthey understand that they might not
even know the ingredients of their ideal OE
right now. Its something that two young designers I know in
Wellington have done after running their labels for some years.
This direction can only benefit the New Zealand
consumer, who should begin to see the fruits of these designers
talents shortly. At this rate, Dunedin may hold on to its reputation
as a fashion hotbed in New Zealand for some time yet.