Dunedin's fashion week, now in its 10th year, proved it has earned its place on the fashion calendar, writes Carolyn Enting.
Whether you call it patriotism or parochialism, tartan ruled on the runway at iD Dunedin Fashion Week.
Certainly plaids and checks are a worldwide style trend at present, but seeing them in Dunedin the Edinburgh of the South put them in their rightful context.
Now in its 10th year, the event has grown from a one-night show into a week-long programme, with highlights including the designer collections show staged at the railway station, and the acclaimed emerging designer awards.
Finalists for the awards came from as far away as Belgium, India, Israel, Italy, Sweden, Taiwan and Australia, proof, if any was needed, that Dunedin has definitely earned a place on the global fashion calendar.
Interestingly, given the industry's female slant, this year's winning designers all chose to show menswear, a point not missed by co-judge, Francis Hooper, of World.
"This is the year of the man; it is a delight to see," he said.
The $5000 top prize went to Jonathan Stern, 25, a graduate of Israel's Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.
His college buddy, Hani Sagiv, also 25, was third.
Stern's innovative range, Variations of Masculinity, included a lace shirt that he crafted by hand, a shrunken leather tuxedo jacket and high-waist pleated leather trousers, while Sagiv was inspired by the structure of a ventriloquist's puppet.
Second place and $2000, went to 27- year-old Cem Cako from the Royal Academy of Arts, Belgium, whose collection, based on a West African tribe, combined bespoke tailoring with unusual draping techniques.
Two "breathtaking" dresses also impressed the judges,one designed by Massey University and Palmerston North fashion graduate Elizabeth Ting, 21, and the other by Auckland's Nadeesha Godamunne.
Ting's cleverly constructed geometric garment featured a colourful Andy Warhol-style print of religious figures. Part of her Foe Crossing collection, which won her the Pacific Blue emerging designer travel prize, it was "a statement on the relationship between religion and the branding in today's society".
Godamunne, 21, won the highly sought-after Mittelmoda prize to show at the Mittelmoda Fashion Competition in Italy this September.
Using digitally printed shift dresses as canvases, she created the illusion of many garments overlapping each other. The effect was accentuated with shoulder pads.
Labels showing at the railway station included Mild Red and Carlson, which both celebrated the event's 10th anniversary with retrospective collections as well as new designs.
Guest designer World caused a sensation with its Swarovski crystal-encrusted tuxedos, although the applause was similarly ecstatic for Shortland Street star Ben Mitchell, modelling for Elusiv.
The menswear label introduced colour, with vibrant red linings and a selection of bright shirts.
Other labels showing included Wellington's Emma and Twenty-Seven Names, both of which drew inspiration from their Dunedin connections.
For Emma Wallace, who lived in the city in her early 20s, it was Dunedin's distinctive music and arts scene, while Twenty-Seven Names' (ex Love Lies Bleeding) Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart both studied there.
However, it was Dunedin-based Nom*d's winter collection, Bedlam, that perhaps most reflected the influence the southern city has had on New Zealand's fashion landscape.
In what it described as "another in a series of experiments in form and construction", designer Margi Robertson showed off her trademark layering and much imitated Gothic, street, punk silhouette, with a nod towards the city's climate, culture, history and topography.
- The Dominion Post
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