9:25am Arrive at the venue 25 minutes late with Sunday‘s Katie Newton and Stefano Sopelza, an Irish fatboy (his words). Zandra Rhodes and Andrew Logan sit in the foyer surrounded by Dunedin models. She wears flaming pink hair, gold rimmed, jewelled spectacles, a ruffled fox fur cape and one of her signature printed dresses. He wears a Turkish hat, multicoloured Adidas tracksuit top, orange corduroy trousers and red and yellow plaited hemp sneakers. Together, they look like a couple of 80s club kids who never left the party.
9:40am First designer presents. It’s menswear. All white, lots of lace details and doily detailing, a little reminiscent of Ann Demeulemeester but more literally traditional. “They look like a bunch of angels gliding down the catwalk,” says Andrew Logan. Each contestant is allowed 10 minutes to talk to us. We give this one 20.
10:00am A collection inspired by stripes and they’re everywhere. Black and white and all over skin tight bodysuits and architectural jackets. Enough to give you an epilectic fit.
10:10am Terrible proportions from an English contestant. Browny/mustard coloured harem pants with a drop crotch that goes to the floor. Apparently it’s all been ethically produced, but after a few questions we’re not so sure. “Ethical is a lot more difficult than you’d think,” says Zandra Rhodes.
10:20am A Swedish girl is inspired by the inside of the body. There’s a soft-toy looking kidney necklace that I quite like but I thought it was a heart on first glance. So did Zandra.
10:35am Great railroad worker menswear collection by a 45 year old mother of four from Auckland. Apparently it’s inspired by Samoan tattoos but I don’t see it except in one multi-stitching detail on the hemline. The clothes are all made from second hand blankets and flour bags and it reminds me of a story I read once about a little Maori girl whose grandmother sews her clothes from flour bags. She thinks the English words are pretty flower patterns but then she goes to school and gets bullied for it.
10:40am Incredible silk organza couture gowns by a half Iranian girl from Invercargill. All white, reminiscent of Margiela and Victor and Rolf, one of the dresses uses 50 metres of fabric, another uses 110 metres. One of her models faints, pitches forward and stumbles off the catwalk. We spend the next few minutes bringing her water and making sure she’s okay. It’s a welcome break.
10:55am A great talker from Auckland whose inspiration is a series of Salvador Dali paintings. She’s into really nasty stuff and one of her prints is a picture of a rotting wound.
11:05am Something crazy and unwearable and rather unattractive. “Where do they think they’re going to get jobs?” asks Zandra Rhodes.
11:15am A very strong knitwear collection inspired by the torture of women – bound feet, corsetry etc. Pity we can’t understand a word of what he says.
11:20am There are good collections and there are bad collections but the thing that hold most of them back is a huge emphasis on process over final product. Too many themes, too many influences, too much all at once. They need to refine their ideas and focus on the end result. It gets frustrating to look at.
11:25am Morning tea. Finally a breather.
11:50am A collection inspired by collections with hundreds of leather stamps all over a dress.
12noon: Wild architectural skins and geometric shapes from a Korean guy who splits his time between London, Austria and Seoul.
12:15pm A question is asked of us: “What would happen if a boy wore his girlfriend’s lingerie?” Plastic pants contain offcuts of female hair. Shocking pink suits made from rough tarpaulin scratch their way down the catwalk. I don’t get it. “If they’d come out in wigs as drag queens I’d understand it,” says Zandra Rhodes.
12:17pm Andre Leon Talley’s quote from The September Issue springs to mind: “It’s a famine of beauty, a famine of beauty!”
12:30pm A Dutch girl inspired by jelly fish sews little lights into the wrists of her floaty dresses.
12:35pm Igor, a Croatian guy with a cornrow mohawk has knitted enormous woolen dresses from khaki wool. Best collection yet.
12:45pm Heal the World by Michael Jackson should not inspire a fashion collection, it should inspire the answer to a question at a beauty pageant. Katie Newton asks if there were any sustainable practices used in the creation of the clothes – seeing as they’re all about making the world a better place. The answer, is, in a word, “No.”
12:55pm This one is all about reusing and recycling, with over 1500 beer tabs embroidered in circular shapes into one dress and broken records forming the shape of another. Great idea, pity it’s not prettier.
1pm Very wearable collection by a girl from Nottingham. That’s about it.
1:55pm Streetwear for the techno-savvy man. Looks like a 90s designer collaboration with Adidas or Puma that you’d see in an old issue of iD magazine.
2pm Shakespearean stage costumes. She should be designing for the theatre, not the street.
2:10pm Some guy is talking too much and we’re all getting fed up. Most of our minds seem to be made up the moment we first see the clothes. No amount of explanation is going to change our opinions.
2:15 Glenn Yungnickel shows his collection In the Red.
2:25pm A young Japanese guy takes on the Kimono. It’s good, I’d give him a prize.
2:35pm Lazer cut everything inspired by Givenchy, McQueen and Galliano. One of the coats is covered with neoprene shapes that look like apple cuts.
2:40pm Jewellery made from found objects – broken mirrors, old watches, chains, pearls…
2:50pm An amazing collection of chain mail jewellery in silver plated copper. Ring a ding ding. But it’s attached to some pretty ordinary dresses. Attached – as in you can’t get one without the other.
2:55pm More jewellery, this time made from number eight wire, rubber from a gumboot, wool caught in a fence. I’m tired.
3:05pm A Japanese guy who missed his appointment due to a bad case of the spews. He’s paler than a snowman but speaks English with an Italian lilt. Everything’s unravelled in his collection, herringbones are half frayed in vertical columns and sleeves hang open. It’s one of the best of the day. Lucky he made it.
3:15pm A very cute Australian girl shows us her Art Deco/Art Nouveau collection of acrylic head pieces mixed with fine jewellery rings. One is a silver house.
3:20pm And we’re done.
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