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fashion: feature

Southern diary
Southern diary

Bronwyn Williams gives a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of a fashion journalist, as she covers the Southern Trust ID Emerging Designers’ Awards in Dunedin, New Zealand
photographed by Emily A. Cannan

Above: Winners at Southern Trust ID Emerging Designers’ Awards 2009.


GETTING OFF THE PLANE in Dunedin, my weather hunch is confirmed. Thankfully I am already swathed in layers, as all of my outfit prep for the south meant that I was heinously over the baggage weight limit, and had to wear half the contents of my suitcase onboard.

My only time to do friendly catch-ups before the Fashion Week madness begins, so I opt for a quick bite to eat at Filadelfios in North East Valley and a quick slurp to drink from the handsome boys at Mou bar—possibly the smallest bar in the world.

I flop into my soft hotel bed, but not before scooping up an armful of media goodies delivered to me from reception. Thanks ID.

Over a breakfast of croissants and coffee from Perc café, I pore over my run list and emails. The lovely Merrin from Strategy First is looking after me beautifully, and offers an interview with rock star hairdresser Richard Kavanagh, Redken lead stylist at ID. Yes please!

I meander down to Ali McD agency in St Andrew Street to chat with owner and make-up artist Aliana McDaniel about the upcoming fashion shows. We talk make-up for the Southern Trust ID Emerging Designers Awards, models, and international contracts, and I catch up on Dunedin gossip.

I pop into Waughs for a visit with mother–daughter team Diann and Amanda. They show me the latest from Day Birger et Mikkelsen—a glorious Danish clothing brand, and I get to play dress-ups. I fall head over heels in love with a hand-knotted white and cream cropped waistcoat that I find hiding downstairs from the summer collection.

Rushed meeting over coffee and snacks with my photographer Emily Cannan at the Good Oil on George Street. The oil isn’t so good today; maybe the barista was partying the night before. Emily and I discuss the plan of attack for the night ahead and make sure she has everything she needs (including her press pass and goody bags) to take sensational shots. I uncover a secret about her worth noting: she specializes in skateboarding photography! She must be one of the few females in New Zealand doing it. My respect for her intensifies tenfold.

Rush rush rush down to Hotel 858 to meet Richard Kavanagh. I do a last-minute application ofa hot pink new YSL lippy—a girl has to stand out. Curled into soft hotel couches, Richard and I talk while his PR looks on, of the ID fashion show, upcoming hair trends, his work with the Redken Artists’ Network, and his ever-growing mass of tattoos. I love his artfully messed hair and his green leather shoes—what a stud.

Back to the hotel for a refresh and outfit change. I bump into fashion blogger extraordinaire Isaac Hinden-Miller and invite him on to the balcony for a glass of wine. The moment the words come out of my mouth I realise what a goof I am—he’s Baha’i so doesn’t drink! After a bit of an awkward pause from his end, he accepts my offer thankfully. We sit in the Dunedin sun, and he gangles cross legged, looking very dapper in his woollen V-neck jumper, sock exposing cuffed trousers and spotted bow-tie. He is very sure of himself. We talk of blogging, the New Zealand fashion industry, international fashion and his self-funded trip to New York Fashion Week. He scraped every penny for the plane ride to NYC, and called PR agencies incessantly until they let him into the shows, one by one. Now that is commitment to his craft. He talked about his future world domination—Isaac TV, and his quickly multiplying collaborations with other fashion websites.

Emily the photographer and I pop into the Broken City Bliss exhibition opening for some pre-show drinks and a bit of hob-nobbing. The art on display is by Henry Devereux, Phillip James Frost, and Anne-Mieke Ytsma, and features some fine leather bags by Company of Strangers. The space is jammed with good- looking people drinking great tasting beer (courtesy of Emerson’s), and being served by the ever- flamboyant barman from Toast. I bump into Ryan from New York’s Style Defined and have an immediate style crush on him and his Kermit green dress shoes. This green footwear trend seems to be dominating the day today.

On to the Emerging Designers’ show, we are running a bit late but still manage to squeeze in backstage for a bit of a nosey before the show begins. The scene behind the black curtain is one of mild chaos—hairdressers whirring away, assistants carting armloads of clothes and poking models into outfits, and young designers hovering by their racks full of clothes and looking decidedly nervous. We manage a few snaps of the camera and a couple of quick conversations before being swept back out the front by bustling organizers. I have a bit of trouble with my seat; the usher pokes me up the back in a student isle to sit next to giggling first years. I embarrassingly call this to her attention, and she rechecks my ticket, apologizes, and gives me my correct spot in the front. What a relief!

Lights dim, the music starts, and Francis Hooper’s silver sequinned bow tie shines out like a beacon at the end of the catwalk. The show features 28 young designers all vying for the top prize of $5,000. The collections are varied, colourful, and full of interesting silhouettes and textures. We see a lot of current season trends—Balmain-inspired ’80s shoulders, PVC wet look leggings, jodhpur trousers and bodysuits, but all had succumbed to the designers’ personal creativity. The shoulders were out in full force, but the embellishments of hardware and stitching made them special. Jodhpur pants were presented in hand dyed denim, and also in sleek manstyle tailoring. PVC leggings had motorcycle-style knee-pads, and bodysuits were shown in muted mustard tones and teamed with relaxed sleeveless knits. The models were gorgeous and professional, of special note was Zoë C.’s catlike slink down the runway, what a walk!

The prizes were awarded, and the Israelis really cleaned up this year. The Life Pharmacy first place award went to Jonathon Stern of Israel for his exploration of masculinity through sophisticated menswear. Cem Cako (pronounced Jem Jako) of Belgium created ethnic-inspired, bedtime-feel suiting, featuring hand-coloured fabrics and wrap and tied details which won him the Dunedin City Council second place position. The SeJuice third place was awarded to Hani Sagiv, also of Israel, for her luxe collection of spooky fairground and ventriloquist inspired pieces. The special prizes were taken home by Liz Ting of Massey University, and Nadeesha Godamunne of Auckland University of Technology.

As much fun as it would have been to traipse about with the fashion crowd all night, my busy day was catching up on me, and I was suddenly overcome by a wave of exhaustion. I snuck off as inconspicuously as possible to climb into bed and dream unnerving dreams about herds of strutting models in Hani’s ventriloquist masks. •


Bronwyn Williams is a writer and photographer for Lucire.


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Above: Kate Newton with Mittelmoda’s Stefano Sopelza and designer Tanya Carlson.

Above: Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart of Twenty-Seven Names.

Above: Unsung heroes backstage.

Above: Extravagance front of house at the Emerging Designers’ show.

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