five crucial lessons nzfw taught us
Stage dives, diversity and gender neutrality: NZFW isn't shy, and we loved it.
New Zealand Fashion Week was electric. For a few hectic days, stylists, bloggers, journalists and buyers descended on Auckland's Viaduct harbour; a bayside series of industrial docks. It's a location that sets NZFW apart from other larger fashion weeks - in an immediate, visually arresting way. The only dull sight was the grey sky: Auckland and it's people are pretty damn colourful.
Unlike New York, London or Paris, Auckland isn't a cultural epicentre, but that actually works in its favour. This is place where nothing lands in your lap, so you've gotta create it. In fact, it might be because of the isolated location, not in spite of it, that New Zealand is so progressive, inventing and exciting. We've cataloged the most surprising delightful lessons we learnt from the week for your reading pleasure.
1. Everyone's Embracing Gender Fluidity
Someone alert Jaden Smith, because there were a tonne of guys in ace skirts. Androgynous streetwear label Slaeve threw skirts on boys like it wasn't a big deal - because hey, it really needn't be. After the show wrapped, designer Ezekiel Crawford made it on to the runway with enough time to pop a rap squat. Props for proving masculinity and skirts are in no way mutually exclusive. Jordan Holiday, a young menswear designer, ran dresses. Even Stolen Girlfriend's Club, the staple label of New Zealand's coolest dudes, showed skorts on their guys. In the end, it was Androgynous beauty Cedric Pasco who really stole the week, walking in Kate Sylvester's womenswear show.
2. Flares Have Made A Glorious Return.
We're pretty psyched about this one. Glorious, big old 70s flares have well and truly made a return. Both a street style staple and a runway standout, the best pairs came courtesy of Stolen Girlfriend's Club and Zambesi. The latter made sure the boys got their fair share of the flare too. Keep it fitted at the thigh, then flare from the knee and you'll be in business.
3. Experimental Presentation Pays Off
Even though it literally rained on twenty-seven names' parade, their choice to show outside was worth it. The singular scenery - it was the week's only outdoor show - and unconventional presentation (models didn't walk a runway, they stood to form a grid) made it one of the week's most memorable. Lucilla Gray also avoided the catwalk, instead, her models lounged in a pop-up woodland created with the help of her mum - a floral designer. But it was Stolen Girlfriend's Club who took the location cake. The birthday boys took over the newly refurbished (still dingy) St. James Theatre. Last week, creative director Marc Moore had teased, "it's going to be as much a party as it is a catwalk presentation," and he wasn't wrong. When model and all-round-legend Derya Parlak dove off the stage, everyone was asking if the surprising crowd-surf came off the cuff. It didn't, but you've got to hand it to her for keeping us guessing.
4. New Zealand's Models are the Coolest.
While we're talking about Derya, we've got to emphasise how world-class New Zealand's models are. We were struck by diversity on the runways from day one, and the remainder of the event held up to the high standard set by the inaugural twenty-seven names show. Casting kudos to Third Form, Slaeve and Jordan Holiday: it looks like the youngest guard of designers are leading the charge. Standout faces were Danielle Hayes (New Zealand's first Māori Top Model) Florence Dwamena, and Mercy Brewer - a 55 year old goddess who's walked with Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen. But NZFW's models weren't just pretty faces. Between shows, we talked Basquiat with Mikka, Dunedin Style with Wesley and molecular biology with Jin (he's finishing his PhD this year). Remember, Abbey Lee walked these runways back in 2006, so it's worth keeping an eye on NZFW's faces - you might just see them on the cover of i-D.
5. Who ran the week? Girls.
This one really went to ladies, and we're not just saying that. The week's first show (twenty-seven names) was set to an all-female soundtrack: Nicki's Only was swiftly faded into Lana's High By the Beach before Drake could utter a peep. The label's brains - and primary school besties - Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart weren't the only duo killing it. Rebecca and Bethany of Lingerie label HER apparel gleefully recount meeting on Instagram, freely confessing they talk to each other more than their respective partners. Standout label Harman Grubiša is also the work of two best pals, Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubiša. If Nicki and Beyoncé hadn't already had you believing it, NZFW was further proof that girls run the world.
Photography James K. Lowe