Fashion without borders

The 2012 Otago Polytechnic School of Fashion's 2012 Collections show was not only the climax of a year's work for the students but also the culmination of an inspired collaborative fashion project between the polytechnic and the Shanghai University of Engineering Science. Jude Hathaway reports.

Fashion from Shanghai added extra vibrancy to this year's Otago Polytechnic School of Fashion Collections show.

The show, in the former Display and Sell Building, on Anzac Ave, brimmed with colour and creativity, boosted by the collections of six visiting fashion students from the International Fashion Academy Paris, which operates under the umbrella of the Shanghai University of Engineering Science (SUES).

The students were part of a Sino/New Zealand collaborative project planned by SUES and the Otago Polytechnic School of Design earlier this year. It was decided that the theme would be green and on the suggestion of the academic leader at the polytechnic's school of fashion, Dr Margo Barton, that fashion shoots would be held in each city.

Last month, the Otago Polytechnic delegation visited Shanghai. It included third-year design students Samuel Ralph, Olivia Bloxham, Hortense Rothery, Carolyn Taylor, Rakel Blomsberg and Soohee Moon. Also making the nine-day trip were photography lecturer Emily Hlavac Green, Dr Barton and two other lecturers.

Showing at Shanghai Fashion Week was a highlight of the trip, as were the fashion shoots at various landmarks of the city - which has been sister city to Dunedin since 1994.

"It was also amazing to be using SUES models who study for their bachelor of arts degrees majoring in modelling," Dr Barton said.

"This is the only university in the world to have a four-year modelling degree course."

Operating since 2001 it was the brainchild of IFAP's vice-dean Madame Zhou, who is a notable international fashion event organiser.

"Shanghai was fascinating and rewarding," Dr Barton remarked, adding that the weather was "really warm".

Last week it was a slightly different story when the Shanghai students visited Dunedin. The weather was not the best for some of the shoots, and the team battled wind and chilly temperatures around the city.

Locations included Cargill's Castle on the clifftop overlooking the Pacific, the Caversham tunnel, Dunedin Railway Station and Lovers' Leap. The warmth of Otago Museum's Tropical Forest and Butterfly House was appreciated.

Models from the Ali McD Modelling Agency worked in front of the cameras for the two IFAP photography students on all shoots.

"The models, particularly the young, small ones, fitted the clothes well," Madame Zhou said through an interpreter.

She said two models in particular, Georgie Dooley and Tom Spence, stood out.

Also among the delegation were two professional photographers, while two other students were involved in the project as co-ordinators. Along with Madame Zhou were three other university staff.

It was the diminutive Madame Zhou's third visit to Dunedin.

"The light in Dunedin is good; but the wind, disgusting," she said with a smile.

When asked how she felt about the size difference between her bustling international city of 16 million and the much smaller Dunedin, her eyes lit up.

"Ah, but art and design have no limitations!"

It is hoped the project between the two fashion schools will continue.