Fresh, unpredictable - and fabulous!

Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers take to the catwalk in  Tamsin Cooper jackets. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers take to the catwalk in Tamsin Cooper jackets. Photo by Linda Robertson.

In the wake of another resoundingly successful iD Dunedin Fashion Show, Jude Hathaway reviews the collections.

The same design nous that initially shone a light on the collective fashion creativity of Dunedin when established and ingenue designers gathered for the first show in 2000 continues.

Back then, the standout aspect was their very different design aesthetics. Nothing has changed - except an ongoing freshness and unpredictability. 

Ah, they're good!

Now, too, is the unrestrained support and enthusiasm from such fashion design notables as Australian-born, Paris-based Martin Grant and New Zealand's own internationally acclaimed Francis Hooper and Denise L'Estrange, of Auckland-based World, who dazzled this year's station crowds.

Martin Grant

Bringing with him a palpable sense of the splendour of Paris, international guest Martin Grant presented his summer range, recently launched in the French capital for the forthcoming northern hemisphere season.

The maestro's clothes provided surprising diversions. A body suit has never looked better as worn under a flowing draped overdress with which he opened the show.

He teamed simple black tops and bustieres with sumptuous black tulle Dior-esque skirts and exaggerated tulip silhouettes.

He effortlessly toyed with shapes and lines using bold, monotone geometric prints for stunning effect. A standout was an intricately cut black evening gown with an enchantingly full skirt. And the footwear?

By Charles Louboutin - of course!

World

A coup for the show was that World's visual gems from its couture collection was seen in its entirety for the first time, setting the catwalk ablaze with spectacular futuristic and fantastical garments - kind of 1930s Hollywood glam meets Year 2514.

It tied up adept tailoring and design ingenuity in extended silhouettes including high, peaked shoulders and long trains using a sumptuous mix of silk velvet, swiss lace, cashmere wool, and leather.

The breathtaking gold lame gown, accessorised with a crash helmet, held alien-like appeal.

World - back for a second time - won hearts. Other brands in order of appearance.

Nom*D

At a recent photo shoot as Margarita Robertson gave last-minute guidance to the young Ali McD model on the general demeanour she wanted, the model suggested ''Sort of 'I've-just-skipped-20mins'-school-to-model-for-Nom*D?'.''

''Exactly,'' replied the creative director of Nom*D, eyes twinkling.

And here's the appeal of Dunedin's best-known brand. It is attitude-drenched but with an underlying vulnerability, which showed clearly in its ''I Will Be Good'' collection.

This time, the school uniform has been referenced in demure dresses, blazer jackets and detachable backpacks - all strongly utilitarian. But there's sophistication too.

Take the belted overcoats and the beautiful winter jackets. A stylish plaid theme was back, running alongside rich brass, plum and espresso colours for another marvellous Nom*D show and season.

Otago Polytechnic School of Design

The brilliance of young design graduates was seen in outfits from Lauren Arthur, Hannah Louise Heslop, Georgia Ferguson and Justine Tindley, the latter three all finalists in the iD International Designer Awards.

Charmaine Reveley

Charmaine Reveley has lavished her accomplished winter range with feminine intensity whether in the wide-leg pants, polka-dot tops or the lace and silk dresses in black, royal blue and burgundy, some heavily sequinned, others less embellished but equally attention-grabbing.

There is an effortless quality about this range. Surprising, too, is a touch of resort wear in a delightful full-length deep-blue and cream silk twill dress tricked with cream beaded motifs finished with a sash.

But she's also a practical Southern girl, heading off winter with such treats as a pink and grey duffel coat and the short wool jackets with leather lapels.

Mild-Red

Donna Tulloch' s ''Shadow Maker'' range frolics with light and texture, mixing high and low sheens, sequins and wool, deer nappa leather and heavy lace.

It made for a dramatic and energetic catwalk show of what is surely her most sensual Mild-Red collection yet. Colours seldom move from black, khaki and Bordeaux.

She teases with one-off outfits such as a limited edition button-through Italian coat lace dress worn with satin shorts or the Bordeaux merino lace dress with a fringed deer skin collar.

The collars make regular appearances. And there is also asymmetry, layering and the architectural elements for that exceptional Mild-Red touch.

Carlson

Models moved quickly into Tanya Carlson's crisply styled ''Bright Lights, Big City'' mood - the theme for her lyrical collection inspired by New York and taking on the energy of that power-packed city.

Swinging from ladylike to girly and with an underlying Carlson sexiness, '40s influences were called up in beautiful silk and lace dresses, while the '50s and '60s were powerfully represented in the Chanel-styled basket weave box jacket and shift dress.

Flirty fun was evoked in a sensuous long print dress, a sequinned black sweater and the yellow PVC raincoat. And it would not have been Carlson without winter shorts, a beautiful wrap-up-warmly coat or the back-beaded, long black crepe Audrey'' dress.

Vaughan Geeson

The calibre of his winter collection, ''Pop Hearts'', cleared the path for Vaughan Geeson to bring a full collection from Auckland for this year's show in Dunedin, where he first launched his fashion career in the late '90s.

The brand is now firmly established throughout New Zealand, the 2014 collection showing off a distinctive - and confident - design style.

This runs from a preppy pertness in the knit printed sweaters and fine merino polka-dot cardigans and jumpers through to lady-be-good nuances of the sunray pleated skirts, the colour-blocked ''Factory'' dresses and the brocade pants, skirts and dresses.

DADA Vintage

Marie Strauss and her DADA Vintage label brought tongue-in-cheek fun to the catwalk, this taking nothing away from the calibre of her covetable winter range of wearable separates, dresses and overcoats .

European influences were noticeable in her overall approach and plaids and checks were to the fore. She addressed winter head on with big-hearted overcoats in a variety of styles and shapes.

She chose cosy hand-knitted beanies as accessories, while artists Madeleine Child and Phillips Jarvis came along for the ride with crazy, sculptural jewellery that fitted comfortably into Strauss' design aesthetic.

Tamsin Cooper

Tamsin Cooper took a trio of RNZB male dancers, a quad of rising Otago rugby stars, clothes racks and gritty music for the high-voltage launch of her men's dressy tailored jackets that target men of all ages seeking a sartorial edge.

The jackets came in vibrant turquoise with silk taffeta lining in yellow, purple and turquoise checks, red with black and red checked lining and in black cotton velvet, also with superb checked lining. Smart pocket squares and rolled '80s-style sleeves gave an overall urbane look.

And there were also her gorgeous women's velvet coats, jackets and gowns, some beaded, others tricked with flirtatious flounces to complete the spectacular presentation.

Company of Strangers

Sara Munro cleverly balanced signature hard-edge with sexy femininity in her winter ''Libertine'' collection, where she matched her romantic georgette garments with cropped leather bomber jackets, zipped coats and capes, skinny and hammer-style pants.

Rich burgundy, rose and mustard tones gave sparks of colour, while the striking wide-brim, black leather hats - a collaboration with Dunedin milliner Dr Margo Barton - provided a strong, dark note. The Schiele wedge ankle boots - a collaboration with footwear company, Chaos and Harmony - helped set the tone for her high-flying show.


Capsule collections

The five small capsule collections all left a feeling of wanting more!

Dunedin's Fiona Clements and her Senorita AweSUMO label brought along her wonderful world of environmentally responsible clothes through men's and women's outfits created from commercial offcuts, fabric from transfer stations, an upcycled dress and a fabulous creation - with accessories - all from found pieces.

From Wellington, Annabelle Wilson's gracious and classically based Wilson Trollope womenswear included daywear of a delightful polka-dot navy and white dress with pink inserts and a navy coat with contrasting stone details along with knitwear and dressy brocades.

Also from Wellington, Sheryl White's Highnoontea winter range was spiked with glimpses of her eclectic and confident design style. Standouts were a gold capelet, a preppy blouse, a gleaming paisley dress and her adaptation of a double-breasted pea jacket.

Dunedin Richie Boyens' zany originality was highlighted with his Clothes I've Made menswear pieces. Some showing a rugged edge, they included a quilted jacket, plaid shirts, two-toned skinny jeans and his individual take on ubiquitous men's overalls. Chunky knits caught the eye.

Now re-established in Christchurch, Debbie Lawson brought her stylish DEVal label and the lux vibe it evokes back for iD. Her clothes were predominantly in signature natural tones. Slim leather pants, zipped and buckled jackets - including an intricately detailed wool-lined flying jacket - were hot.

Storm: Deborah Caldwell has given her Auckland label Storm a shot of extra vitality with the launch of her new limited edition ''Event'' line to celebrate the iD show's big anniversary. Targeting those who want to look good at a dressy lunch, dinner or theatre outing, it features signature Storm fabrics, fur and leather that bring metallic gleam, glitz, sheen and sparkle to a range of separates, dresses and pants. Predominantly in silver, gold and black, the range has a distinctive glam-rock base.

Also giving the crowd a taste of their phenomenal talent were the winners of the various iD International Emerging Designer Awards.

This 15th iD show reaffirmed the exhilarating appeal of a concept steeped in fashion design excellence.