“I feel like we’re going to chapel at school.”
“I shouldn’t have bought an opened Pals in here.”
“We’re all going to hell.”
They were just some of the comments overheard from the crowd as every cool fashion kid in Auckland congregated inside the Community of Saint Luke Church in Remuera to witness a special Saturday service - Gemini Season - a runway show by emerging local designers Emma Cornall (Emma Jing) and Taylor Groves.
The church was packed with an audience of mostly young, alt-y onlookers - normally an outspoken bunch - who sat neatly in pews in hushed anticipation as someone played the piano. Scanning the room: lots of low-rise pants, belly button piercings, home-made tattoos, teeth bling and a scruffy dog in a green jumper that matched its owner.
Eventually the serene music stopped and out walked the first model, ethereal beauty Catherine Boddy, dressed in a cheeky red mini dress of Emma Jing’s signature ‘bubble’ style - ruched, bunched and pleated fabric with playful ties and a matching oversized scrunchie. Seeing a glimpse of ass cheek parallel to a stained glass window set the vibe for the rest of the show.
The name of the presentation - Gemini Season - was a nod to the designers' shared star sign, and the unique way they balance each other out: “The way we work together but separate… the kinda chaotic and fun way we pull things together… the whole crunch time of making the work happened in Gemini Season,” says Groves.
Sam Knegt, a friend of the designers, summed up the aesthetic of the night: “flirty devilishness cusping sacrilege”.
It showed in the details: glossy red lips with pointy, exaggerated cupid bows, black smokey eyes with spiky lashes, the work of makeup artists Binh Minh Ha and Ellie Hart. Hair stylist Henare Davidson worked with Wilbur Hsu and Groves’ mum Jody on the long ropes of plaits in different sizes, and slicked buns worn with scrunchies and silk bandanas.
The whole audience was captivated, and not just in Auckland - the runway was live-streamed so people from anywhere could tune in, as seen in Instagram stories of fans from Wellington and Dunedin who posted screenshots cheering on the models.
Among them was Holly Rose Emery, modelling her last stint in Aotearoa before jetting back to the Northern Hemisphere. The show’s stylist Tom So dressed her in a button-up shirt by Taylor Groves left open at the midriff, a pleated skirt and smocked bralette by Emma Jing and textural silver jewellery by Shannen Young.
This isn’t the first time the two Geminis have presented a runway in an unexpected setting. In February last year, the pair threw a fashion show at an empty lot by Parnell station, drawing an eclectic crowd who arrived by the trainload. After two disappointing NZFW cancellations, Cornall and Groves poured their energy into giving the local fashion scene some much-needed excitement.
The duo are working on a showroom at The Keep - a shared open studio/concept store on Karangahape Road - so people can come and see the garments and try them on.
Photographer Constance McDonald captured some of the best looks from the night - both behind the scenes and on the stylish crowd in the pews.