A closer look at this year's emerging iD talent

Some of the innovative young designers presenting their collections at iD Dunedin’s Emerging Designer Show this week share what inspires their designs.

Tsega Gebremedihin's collection 'OMO'. Photo: Supplied
Tsega Gebremedihin's collection 'OMO'. Photo: Supplied

TSEGA GEBREMEDIHIN
Massey University, New Zealand

Describe your design aesthetic?
Colourful, abstract and celebrating cultural identity. I like to experiment with colour, shape and custom-made prints.

What is your collection ‘OMO' inspired by?
The ancient cultural practice of body painting within the Omo tribes in Ethiopia. It’s believed to enhance the tribe's relationship to their natural environment.

Why is this important for you to represent this theme?
This process has led me to share my African heritage while acknowledging the underrepresented Omo Valley tribes by using their symbols of body painting.

What prints and materials have you used and why?
I mainly used digital printing to incorporate the Omo Tribe's symbols. This started with hand painting, using my fingers to recreate the dots, lines, and circular shapes.

What colours did you use?
Earthy tones such as ochre in varieties of yellow, brown, sienna and white. These colours are inspired by the natural substances the tribes use to paint their body with.

What are your dreams as a designer?
I want to continue telling complex stories about culture, and use fashion for social change. To embrace the beauty of individuality and create clothing that lets people reconnect and celebrate their identities.

Jaehwa Rhee's collection 'Designed in London’. Photo: Supplied
Jaehwa Rhee's collection 'Designed in London’. Photo: Supplied

JAEWHA RHEE
South Korean, London-based

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
It’s based on my Korean heritage combined with well-made finishings informed by my study in London. I have a big interest in using sustainable materials.

What inspired your collection ‘Designed in London’?
I explored features and motifs from Korean heritage such as architecture, costume, and accessories and wanted to present these using modern design and sustainable techniques. Korean traditions reflect the ancestors’ idea of wisdom with nature. For that reason, I made the connection between Korean heritage and today's demanding issue of sustainability in the fashion industry.

What materials did you use?
I used 100 per cent eco-friendly fabrics, mostly organic cross weave fabrics, pure wools, Korean traditional paper-mixed fabric and bamboo silk. I have since started researching regenerated fabrics such as recycled polyester for future designs.

What techniques did you use?
Before I studied fashion in London, the major of my first BA was Fibre Art where I learned natural dying and hand-felting. These are used throughout the collection and are a great way to make a different mood on regular fabrics in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.

Sarah Hawes collection 'Psychotic Tailor'. Photo: Supplied
Sarah Hawes collection 'Psychotic Tailor'. Photo: Supplied

SARAH HAWES
University of Technology, Australia

What is your collection 'Psychotic Tailor' inspired by?
Classic men’s tailoring with a splash of the psychotic. I took inspiration from old photographs of my grandfather from the 1950s wearing tailored suits in London and got obsessed with the history of men’s tailoring. I decided that in eight months (with no previous experience) I would learn old school tailoring techniques and combine it with a streetwear aesthetic.

How was your idea of ‘lunacy’ explored?
I took an intensive and schizophrenic approach to hand embroidery which weaves around the garments' shapes erratically, incorporating text and lucid imagery.

How did you get into menswear?
We had a tailoring class at university and I was hooked. I think it’s important for designers not to place huge importance on gender. At the end of the day, it’s just fabric. Some of my favourite clothing has been bought in the men's section of the store.

Your garments are so detailed. What was the construction like?
Almost all the fabric is wool and hand finished with embroidery or second-hand shirting and fabric patches. It took over 400 plus hours to create the collection so the biggest challenge was getting a lot of RSI!

Tell us about the accessories you made?
The shoes in my collection are hand painted and I made the platform shoes by layering second-hand thongs and coating them in liquid rubber and paint. It’s amazing what you can do on a budget! I also created clay bags and brooches sculpted by hand and made from Polymer clay. I enjoyed taking a craft and making it fashion. Although I’m not sure my mum loved me hi-jacking the oven.

What is your design philosophy?
When people tell me “wow your designs are really weird” or “who would wear that?” it inspires me to go bigger, louder and more unusual.

Who are some of your favourite designers?
Thom Browne, Martin Margiela and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy.

Rebecca Carrington's collection 'The Story of Miss Ruby Ribbon'. Photo: Supplied
Rebecca Carrington's collection 'The Story of Miss Ruby Ribbon'. Photo: Supplied

REBECCA CARRINGTON
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Describe your design aesthetic?
A mix of chaos and organisation.

What was your collection ‘The Story of Miss Ruby Ribbon' inspired by?
By my childhood pet parrot Ruby who passed away while I was about to start my collection. My parents had her for over 21 years and I was turning 21 at the time. I wanted to celebrate the time of adulthood commencing and childhood coming to an end.

How does fiction inspire your designs?
I absorb myself into a character and think of how they would live, talk and feel. Their story becomes their clothing and I find this process adds a new layer of discovering myself.

Where did this fascination with storytelling in your designs come from?
I think listening to stories at school. It was such a peaceful feeling and for those few minutes, everything around me disappeared. Storytelling through clothing came naturally when I knew I wanted to study fashion and I've always been fascinated with people's individual style and artistry.

What fabrics have you used?
A mixture of hard and soft-wearing fabrics including canvas cotton, cotton drill, wool, velvet, silk satin, faux fur and taffeta. I wanted a juxtaposition of qualities to reflect the narrative of finding strength in innocence

What about silhouettes?
I used toys as shapes for garments and scaled them up from A3 drawings to create larger versions for pattern pieces. I did the same thing with dolls' clothing. I also made masks, fabric keyrings and giant plush toys to send down the runway.

Phoebe Lee's collection 'Dream Love Thrive Create'. Photo: Supplied
Phoebe Lee's collection 'Dream Love Thrive Create'. Photo: Supplied

PHOEBE LEE
Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand

Describe your design aesthetic?
It’s cute and quirky with a splash of punk individuality and a lot of customisation. I like bold design with lots of shapes, colours and patterns

What inspired your collection 'Dream Love Thrive Create'?
My own feelings for creativity. I really wanted to bring my personality into it and it has been a process of self-reflection and expression. The collection celebrates the joy of dressing to fit your own expression and unique self.

What key elements did you use?
I played around with pattern and layering for this collection. I used paint, illustration, collage and composition too. I wanted to customise my fabrics and materials as much as I could, to have each piece touched by love, dreams and creation.

What imagery did you use in the collection?
The main illustration I brought throughout my work is the ‘nymph’ characters. They look like funky aliens with large fawn ears, big lips and blush on their cheeks and forehead.

Why did you use vegan leather in your collection?
As a vegan, I only use cruelty-free materials and steer clear of materials derived from animals. Vegan leather holds strength and can carry structured shapes and silhouettes that soft materials can’t achieve. I have used it throughout my collection, and for accessories and garments such as an oversized biker vest with a collage of patches on the back, as well as nymph keychains and a flower-shaped bag.

Where do you take inspiration from?
Utopian worlds and fantasy lands. I’m inspired by the anime Gokinjo Monogatari. I absolutely adore the quirky and cute sense of dress throughout the show, and the burning passion that the main character Mikako has for her own creations. I am also inspired by Japanese Fruits magazine, created by Shoichi Aoki where he captures the fashion cultures of Japanese youth that are based around the streets of Harajuku.

Rosette Hailes-Paku's collection ‘The Story of a Girl Who Just Wanted Pink Hair’. Photo: Supplied
Rosette Hailes-Paku's collection ‘The Story of a Girl Who Just Wanted Pink Hair’. Photo: Supplied

ROSETTE HAILES-PAKU
Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand

What is your design aesthetic?
Edgy, punk, and gothic with cute and quirky additions. I love the use of colour, screen printing, and crazy prints.

What inspired your collection ‘The Story of a Girl Who Just Wanted Pink Hair’?
The conformity and restriction of attending Catholic school. I felt I didn’t belong or fit in with so many rules and regulations, like having to wear a uniform and blend in with everyone else. I know lots of people who have experienced this, so I wanted to make something relatable.

How did you show this?
I used aspects of a Catholic school uniform such as tartan where I worked with Otago Knitwear to create a customised tartan double-faced jacquard knit. I used a heavy cotton drill to make the garments look heavy, and incorporated elements of a straitjacket to symbolise restriction. I made sleeves unnecessarily long and added straps that can be tied around the body or arms. I used boning in the pants and kilt to restrict the waist and used straps, tabs, and eyelets that can be threaded and tied up. For the overall look, I wanted to provide a contrast to the restriction so made free-flowing pants with large knife pleats to bring in a sense of freedom.

What colours did you use?
Pink and black to show the contrast between this sense of rebellion while still being young and innocent.

• The iD Dunedin 20th Anniversary Show will showcase 30 collections by 33 international designers in the International Emerging Designer Awards on Friday March 15 and Saturday March 16. Visit Idfashion.co.nz

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