It was the best way to kick off NZ Fashion Week: a show that was deliberately not part of fashion week.
Rogue, a DIY show put on by a group of young creatives as a direct response to the cost of showing at the local fashion industry’s biggest event but with the aim of “creating our own space in Aotearoa’s fashion industry”, took over the beautiful Mount Albert War Memorial Hall on Friday night.
The atmosphere was that of cool support and excitement; maybe a little bit of nervous energy that was quickly expelled when MC Estelle Schuler took to the stage to welcome guests. The sell-out crowd was a charming mix of Gen Z cool in deconstructed denim, knitwear, corsetry, mini skirts, hair accessories and vintage boots (so many boots), and families there to support, adorably holding bouquets and bottles of prosecco to gift post show.
I spotted orange camo fleece, a crochet mini skirt suit, many cute hats and hair bows, and a photographer wearing what could have been a necklace made of cameras (I think they were actually working cameras). Two guests sipped tea from ceramic vessels, while waiting for the show to start. We were certain we saw someone holding a kitten outside.
There were few designers or ‘industry’ people there, which was a shame; though I know of several other stylists, writers and hair stylists who wanted to come but missed out on tickets (I did see costume designer Kirsty Cameron and Becky Hemus from The Art Paper).
The clothes were the point though. Twenty-three designers were showcased in three ‘chapters’, an impressive runway of talent; some of which I’ve already been watching like Sleeping Profit and Banshee, others I’m glad to have been made aware of.
There were a few items that stood out for their clear point of view: an impeccably tailored jacket by Sol Savila, the sensual sustainability of Resac’s Kelsey Baker’s “repurposed dreamland from your Nan’s old linens”, Jonathan Dransfield of Kariun’s “bash up, patch and mend”. The experimental knitwear, crochet and weaving was strong, like that from Jalaina Hitchen and Kat Aucamp of Goldi, Angela Kong and more.
But what was most striking was the confidence from every designer, whether they showed one look or four.
Being indie and going rogue may have been the spirit, but the whole production was slicker than most ‘emerging designer’ shows I’ve attended (even some established designer shows, actually) – from the very good casting, styling, music (created for the show by Oli Johnston and James Gibb of Cay Radio), makeup and drink tickets featuring a cheeky illustration of Anna Wintour. There was a cute photo booth set up, and posters and patchworks hung up throughout. It may have been aiming to subvert fashion’s traditions, but it did feel a lot like an old-school, fun fashion week party.
Abigail Dell'Avo went along, and captured just some of the memorable looks in the crowd, backstage and on the runway.