On the ninth floor of an inner city building, with the late Saturday afternoon sun pouring in, Tāmaki Makaurau’s creative and cool gathered to take in the latest collections from designers and best friends Catherine Boddy and Heather Brennan Evans.
It was the latest in a string of charming independent and lo-fi shows from the new wave of NZ fashion talent, a much-needed injection of DIY and individual spirit that isn’t bothered with traditional PR or chasing mass commercial success.
Friends model, friends do the makeup and hair, friends of friends come to watch and the pieces are usually one-offs available to buy after the show. It is shows like these, like the recent bridal presentation from Emma Jing and upcoming group showcase Rogue ahead of NZ Fashion Week but deliberately not ‘on the schedule’, that keeps the industry feeling fresh and, frankly, relevant.
Held in the upstairs offices of art and culture magazine The Art Paper and supported by its editor Becky Hemus, this weekend’s show presented new pieces from Catherine Boddy and Heather Brennan Evans; shown as two mini shows that were distinctive but complementary. Backstage, Katie Melody Rogers, Olivia Jem and Amy Hart perfected the deliberately imperfect makeup while hair was by Marie Matheson.
Both designers made use of patchwork, giving fabric offcuts a new life – from Boddy’s sexy bogan vibe with heart appliques and artistic updates of the humble glove (she recently reviewed the glove emoji for us, here) to Brennan Evans’ whimsical silhouettes and use of texture.
“I started slowly working on this collection earlier this year when I had a lot of down time on a helicopter rescue TV show I worked on,” says Boddy of her range. “The rescue work they did was inspiring and I guess that’s obviously where this work came from, haha.”
She hadn’t made a cohesive range of work for a while, instead working on “random bits and pieces, whatever I felt like making at different moments”. This range incorporates things she loves: specific colour pairings and shapes that are “quintessential Catherine at its roots”.
“It always has to have a tacky romance about it, not far off being found in a $2 shop look but Chanel quality feel,” she jokes.
Brennan Evans’ collection also heroed the core of her brand, with an exploration of play and experimentation featuring a mash-up of colours, textures, dying, appliqué and patchwork. “I would say… fairytale street wear,” she says. “The process of making brings me joy, and seeing the work, I hope you feel the same.”
She was inspired by films like Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970), Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) and Coraline (2009), as well as a quote from the late fashion designer Christopher Nemeth: ‘It is not my intention to make my effort invisible; my cutting, my seams, and my stitching, but rather to give it its voice, making it speak for itself.’
Off the runway there was plenty of style to take in, with the gathered crowd of friends, family and fans opting for leather and denim, knee-high boots, statement jackets and Y2K style handbags (we saw at least two vintage Guess bags). Photographer Abigail Dell'avo went along to capture some of the ensembles, behind-the-scenes, on the runway and in the crowd. - Zoe Walker Ahwa