You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
On the eve of Dunedin Fashion Week, Katie Day delves into the background and discovers the inspiration of two iD International Emerging Designer Awards finalists for 2021.
This year, 43 finalists from 16 countries were selected by an international panel of judges. Each finalist has produced a short video clip of their collection, which will form a fashion feature film to be debuted on the night alongside the runway show.
Two of the finalists - Taylor Pumphrey and Alesha Pyers - developed their design identities while studying fashion design at Otago Polytechnic.
Pumphrey grew up in sunny Nelson surrounded by her sisters on a “nice small farm, without the animals".
The draw to fashion was innate.
“Me and my sisters were obsessed with Barbies and the paper cut-out books. I’d make the little paper clothes and hang them on the hangers.”
Creative pursuits were honoured within her family and sewing was in the DNA.
“My mum is an artist, she used to sew a lot. I grew up sewing. I don’t specifically remember learning it, but we were always doing crafty things at the house. She taught me sewing initially - she does a lot of textile art now - so I always bounced ideas off her. She even knitted the pieces in my collection, Tangible.”
On her father’s side of the family, her grandma liked to sew.
"She had a little boutique and was a fashion designer, I guess. She would make all her own beautiful ball dresses and everything. So I think it just runs in the family from both sides.”
This awareness of a career as a fashion designer led Pumphrey to know that creating fashion was what she wanted to do. Art and design subjects at high school supported this goal.
“I’ve never really questioned it and, in my family, it was so supported.”
When deciding where to study the balance of technical and academic work that Otago Polytechnic offers appealed to her.
"I really like the actual physical making of the design. I didn’t just want to study design, I wanted to study construction. I like understanding every aspect of it; I want to know why all of it works."
An essential part of the fashion school experience was working backstage at fashion events such a iD International Emerging Designers and the Otago Polytechnic student showcase shows.
As a first-year student, Pumphrey remembers thinking that those events were the "coolest thing ever", but could not imagine being a part of one.
"You look up to them so much, it was so inspiring. It definitely set me up and gave me inspiration and enthusiasm for the rest of my degree. Being a finalist is award enough.
"iD is helping with networking. It’s an amazing opportunity and it’s definitely something that I’m very proud of.”
Pumphrey works in the Wellington fashion industry and is part of a mentor programme with the Kahui Maori Fashion Collective.
"I’m doing a mentorship programme at the moment with Kiri Nathan. It’s for Maori designers or creatives and it’s been amazing so far."
Audacity to Art
Also raised in Nelson, Pyers took a different path into fashion design.
Heavily involved in science and sport at school, it wasn’t until she began a modelling career that she became interested in the industry.
"I just love being around these crazy creative brains and through everything I had been involved in, I always met people that were the most giving, caring people and I thought, ‘Man, I want to be around people like this as a job’.”
However, she headed to university to study neuroscience, but soon realised it wasn’t where her passion lay.
"I love creating and having that creative outlet. For me, that’s through expression of self. Then I decided I was going to do fashion design."
Pyers’ graduate collection - Audacity to Art - has become her entry for the Emerging Designers Awards.
The collection addresses themes of objectification and emotional distress, expressed through marrying the arts with fashion.
"I was holding back a lot of the authentic reasoning behind a lot of the choices and I was choosing to give a watered down version of what I was working on ... once I realised and owned it for what it is ... I was able to do a heap of building and growth, as a designer and on the collection. It’s a very vulnerable collection to share and also very important as well.”
Reflecting on showing her deeply personal collection though iD, Pyers hopes her message gets through.
"I wanted to focus on the re-empowering yourself and growing and finding identity again and finding self-love, self-worth and a lot of strength, so the collection is based around positive things, like how you can recover from anything and it can make you so strong."
• Visit idfashion.co.nz to find out more about Pumphrey, Pyers and the other finalists.
Two Shows One Event - Gala Fashion Show, iD Dunedin