The AUT Rookie fashion show felt long - in a good way. Usually watching a runway show feels like it’s over in a flash, but with 29 design graduates sending mini collections down the atrium runway this year, there was an abundance of talent on display.
Communicating your vision (and a whole degree’s worth of work) in only three looks wouldn’t have been easy for the new designers, but each collection succeeded in showing everyone's unique skill set (there was exquisite knitwear, denim work and tailoring) which felt entirely different, despite the similarities in tone.
Black, beige and various shades of khaki drab dominated the runway, as did layered and oversized looks by Nina Douglas, Quin Jane Chen, Salma Ibrahim-Jerrywo and Xiaoying Amy Huang. I was a little surprised to find the majority of garments monochrome and moody - but equally, commercial. Several times I thought to myself, “I can see this on the racks of Zambesi, The Shelter or Service Depot“ or “I would wear that” and others I spoke to after the show felt the same.
So I was pleased to see many industry faces there taking it all in (which wasn’t the case at the Rogue fashion show earlier this year). Zambesi’s Liz Findlay sat front row, as did The Shelter buyers Vicki Taylor and Aria McInnes and Fabric Merchant’s buyer Ria Bhogal. Green MP and industry advocate Chlöe Swarbrick was there, along with local designers Tanya Carlson, Lost & Led Astray designer Sarah-Jane Duff and Discovery’s stylist Sarah Stuart.
Like the garments, everything was polished - from choreography of the show down to the model’s sleek ponytails. Designers who shared a similar aesthetic were grouped together in chapters, each transitioning into the next as music moved between genres. It was a slick production, a testament to the university's facilities.
The punk influence you’d expect at a graduate fashion show was definitely there too, as seen in Phoebe Lush’s tartan coats and dresses with heavy chain and safety pin fastenings, Danyela Pezic’s oxblood leather and raw draped denim, and Taylor Duffus’ creative repurposing of men's blazers. There were beautifully shaped sheer gowns by Selena Teng, and among the more revealing pieces and I remember seeing a few exposed butt cheeks…
A handful of designers brought the colour and joy - Xixi Amethyst-Lin‘s hyper-femme pieces stood out with lilac organza, bows, ribbons and lace, as did Charlotte Maguire’s Y2K denim overalls and striped knitwear (in my notes app I wrote “Lizzy Maguire meets Missoni - love”). Sophie Negus also gave us colour and whimsy with prints in teal and rust and lemon-yellow leg warmers.
Post-show, photographer Willow Handy captured some of the best looks from the crowd...