Wellington ashion student Tanya Jeffrey was inspired by the science-fiction film, Blade Runner, when she created a dress of toilet paper for a design competition at her fashion school.
Second-year diploma students at New Zealand Fashion Tech were given four weeks to design and make dresses out of Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper as part of a competition invented to market the brand.
Jeffrey, 27, was one of three finalists chosen out of 34 entries, and she is up against Aucklanders Kapi Fonua, 19, and Kei Ho, 30, whose designs will be modelled at New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) in September.
Jeffrey's dress was a retro-contemporary garment with a structured, tubular skirt contrasting with a gently contoured bodice, and a collar modelled on the one worn by Blade Runner's heroine, Rachel. Inspired by the futuristic outfits on the film, Jeffrey watched it several times during the design process.
"I have always loved that movie for its sets, and just the whole design of it is just really beautiful. It's got a real retro, futuristic look, and it's really glamorous and pretty."
Jeffrey says the hardest part of the process was the constant washing of hands, and avoiding the oil and grease on sewing machines to try to keep the dress as white as possible.
Sewing the toilet paper was not as difficult as she expected. "I just sewed it as if it were normal fabric and tried not to handle it too much."
Like other students, she used an iron to fuse the toilet paper with interfacing fabric, which makes it thicker and more stable.
Having designed a dress that didn't use a lot of material, Tanya used only about four rolls of toilet paper, but students with "curlier" designs had to use more.
"Rolled out it goes further than you would think."
Only one student's dress tore slightly when the model tried it on and found it was a touch too small.
The New Zealand Institute of Fashion Technology student likes making anything from streetwear to high-end fashion, and wants eventually to have her own shop.
As a step in that direction, Jeffrey hopes to finish her diploma at the end of the year and get a job as an assistant patternmaker.
Students used 19,500 metres of toilet paper to make the dresses according to specific criteria.
They had to highlight the paper's softness and strength, and the dresses had to be contemporary styles, resemble fashion garments, and be striking in appearance.
"There are so many toilet paper brands," Kleenex Cottonelle senior brand manager Jason Biggs says, "so we want to say that we are so different from everybody else, so what's a really interesting way we can do that?
W hen people buy toilet paper, they buy it for two reasons - because it's soft and it's strong."
Individuality was an important consideration when judging, and it was that which made Jeffrey's design stand out to the panel, which included Auckland fashion photographer Marissa Finlay, Zambesi head designer Liz Finlay, and Fashion Tech director Kevin Smith.
"Beautiful dresses have started life as a paper or cloth toile for centuries," said Michele Bollinger, general manager of Kimberley-Clark New Zealand, which makes Kleenex Cottonelle. "So we think it's fitting that our luxury-quality Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper is the fabric giving tomorrow's fashion designers their first big start."
This is the third time the company has run the competition, but this year a new dimension will be added with an online voting poll allowing the public to have their say on which garment they think should win.
Live on tvnz.co.nz/paperdresses from July 29, voters will go in a draw to win two seats to NZFW.
The dress with the most votes will be auctioned on Trade Me.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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