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The students from the Otago Polytechnic’s graduating fashion design class have reached the pinnacle of their studies during a year like no other.
Home spaces were transformed into design studios and the buzz of the classroom was reduced to the hum of a laptop as learning moved online for the duration of Covid-19 lockdown.
The students channelled their design strengths of creative problem-solving and perseverance, adapting their theoretical and hands-on studies to various learning environments and reconsidering their position as emerging designers in a rapidly changing fashion system.
Overcoming every obstacle thrown at them, they have produced meaningful, innovative and technically comprehensive collections that contemplate and reflect elements of society, interwoven with their individual design philosophies.
Upcoming fashion design graduates Jamie Horsefield, Taylor Pumphrey and Jacinta Boock reveal the inspiration behind their 2020 debut collections.
For more emerging design, Otago Polytechnic’s "DEBREIF" exhibition showcases a curated selection of design created by graduating students across the polytechnic’s design disciplines, which includes communication, fashion and product design.
Jamie (20) grew up in Dunedin obsessed with magazines, which piqued his curiosity for fashion.
"Our generation lives in a great paradox. On one hand, we live in a digital paradigm of unlimited self-expression of digital space. On the other hand, we are faced with the reality and pragmatism of everyday life.
"At exactly what point does fashion need to exist in the real world? Does fashion today meet the borders of reality and digital that we ourselves exist in?
"And is what we wear about the identity that comes with it, or the function of intended purpose? Throughout my work, I look to add context to an underdeveloped area of 3-D virtual objects and fashion."
Taylor (21), who is from Tasman, Nelson, grew up in a very creative household where her mother taught her to sew when she was a child.
"My sisters and I were true Barbie and Bratz fanatics."
It led to her taking fashion design in high school and working part-time at a clothing alterations shop, which motivated her to consider studying design and pursuing a career in fashion.
"My graduate collection, ‘Tangible’, explores the sense of touch and its relationship to our emotions: how touch informs our perception and understanding of the world from both a survival and emotional perspective. This sense provides a constant stream of information, and doesn’t ask permission. With touch as our guide, we are both protected and at our most vulnerable, psychically and emotionally. We can feel love, pain, comfort and fear — a direct link between body and soul.
"Considered also from a phenomenological perspective, this collection looks at the space between the tangible and intangible. The garment exists in its own space around the wearer. How these garments are worn and perceived is a combination of the wearer's choice and the fabrics’ desires; they can coexist.
"Details of ties and wrapping are included in my designs, as a reference to embrace. However, they are also mechanical, they allow the fabrics to take on a variety of silhouettes and purpose. The garment may be secure and contained, loose and free, or even a combination of the two. When creating this collection, I visualised each piece during the process of dressing and undressing. On, it is a garment, hugging the body and draping in relation to the form. Off, it loses its specific design, moves freely, takes on other shapes and drapes intuitively. I imagined their form hung over a chair or left clumsily on the floor.
"As a designer, I am particularly interested in womenswear and drawn towards textile experimentation and conceptually-driven design. I am detail-oriented and appreciate thoughtful design, using carefully considered fabrications. I aim to design consciously and thoughtfully with social and environmental impact in mind, valuing quality and wearability."
Jacinta (20) gravitated towards creative activities from a young age growing up in Dunedin. She knew she wanted a creative career and fashion design seemed appropriate as she loved making people feel good about themselves. She believes she can do this through designing garments.
"This collection, ‘Dawn’, has been shaped by my cherished memories of seven important people in my life, and my significant connection to the beach. Everyone has a space where they are content — where time passes by and every bad thought eases into thin air."
As I discovered this year, that place for me is the beach — a place for enjoyment and calming, a place I turn to whenever I need to unwind, especially when feeling overwhelmed. This excerpt from my diary captures this connection to the beach:
At a stand still, I decided to go to the fabric store to see if any material grabbed my attention. I then took them to a place I can just breathe without any distractions. Pulling up at the beach, I took a minute to let my mind unscramble and run free. Taking a step out of the car, the fresh salty air hits me, awakening me. Watching the waves fold and gently come to the shore fills me with peace, as I record the water calmly folding around the rocks and back out to sea, my mind instantly feels like it has been filled with energy and the negativity just drifts away. Hopping back in the car with a new attitude on my project and a burst of excitement, I grabbed my paper and pencil ready for the feelings to start creating on paper. As I had my samples within arms reach, I let my hand flow freely."I turned to this space a lot during this project to help trigger designs and decisions as well as to motivate and inspire me. The beach also connects me to the people who inspired this collection. The combination influenced how ‘Dawn’ came to be."