Dayne Johnston with Jasper Seven. Photos: Katherine Lowe
“Athletics, French sailors and the campus,” declared Zambesi Man designer Dayne Johnston after his show tonight, “Those were our influences.” Three quite disparate ideas, but Johnston managed to combine them to create his most cohesive collection to date. The boys’ makeup was war paint, inspired by the competitiveness of sports matches. Trouser cuffs and jacket collars were ribbed like a team’s tracksuit, and a tee shirt that hung low at the back evoked a baseball catcher’s. The collegiate strain could be found in simple outfits like a camel blazer paired with a sweater and shirt; and the French sailor appeared in a baseball jacket’s shawl-collared ribbing – propped up to guard against chillly sea winds.
Accessibility can be all but scarce at a Zambesi Man show, but Johnston was quick to stress the importance of making this collection wearable. It was a smart move for the brand – there are only so many men who can comprehend the slashed-front shirts and meggings that have cropped up in past seasons. For the more conservative customer, little luxuries could be found in elements like a perfectly cut pair of grey flannel trousers, a crisp navy greatcoat or an inside-out pair of sweatpants that looked curiously like sheepskin – “Deconstructed luxury,” according to Johnston. Sure there were a few oddball pieces, a long sleeved tee with a giant plastic print, a Zambesi trucker cap (who’d’ve thought?) and a top with octagons stitched in (referencing a soccer ball), but they were stylistic quirks.
The right casting can elevate a show from good to great, and Zambesi had the best of the day in a lineup that included Aboriginal beauty Samantha Harris, expat-Kiwi Peter David and model couple Jasper Seven and Dempsey Stewart. About 12 minutes in, a poetic moment occurred: The three faces of the brand’s current campaign – Vinnie Woolston, Michael Whittaker and Imogen Watt took to the catwalk. It would have been the perfect end to a near perfect show, but alas, after they’d exited, it just kept on going. Designers would be well advised to leave a little something to the audience’s imagination – it’s unnecessary to present each garment in every possible fabrication. Less is more. Some things are better left for the shop floor.
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