AUT Students Pay Homage to Artist Rita Angus

Violet Howlett-AitkenAmidst the flurry of fantastical and fabulous events that was ANZFW, a more modest but equally inspiring show took place at the Auckland Art Gallery. During fashion week, AUT’s second year fashion design students showcased their gorgeous Rita Angus inspired creations and Designer Direction’s Kelly Jin reports on the show, the design and what pieces caught her eye.

The runway show attracted a wide range of attendees from bouncing, playful tykes to those slightly more senior in age. Prior to the commencement of the show, most viewers roamed the gallery with very thoughtful, pensive looks as they inspected the works of one of New Zealand’s most celebrated artists, Rita Angus. For those not familiar with Angus’ work, her pieces have strong Byzantine and Cubist influences, which were also very present within the students’ collections.

Ruby Page for Rita Angus

Ruby Page

So, having submitted my poor feet to several days of gratuitous torture, I had been hoping the AUT exhibition would forgo the ridiculous fashion etiquette of tardiness but, needless to say, I had no such luck. Nevertheless, while my expectations of punctuality were quashed, the same could not be said of my expectations of creativity, ingenuity and pure fabulosity. AUT’s 2nd years really pulled out all the stops and I should probably stop waffling now and get round to talking about the clothing!

While all the ensembles deserve mentioning, I will permit myself to select just a few divine pieces instead.

One of my favourite looks of the evening was a forest green rectangular wool garment that drew heavily on both Angus’ love of lush colours and her cubist tendencies. It was a cross between a top and a cape for it had no sleeves and looked literally, from the front, like the model was clad in a cube of sorts.

Another gorgeous item was an interesting sheer bolero utilising boning and gathering to create a magnificent three-dimensional spiral shell-like effect – a look reminiscent of Angus’ seashell paintings.

Indeed, the AUT second years certainly didn’t skimp on structure and shape. I was particularly intrigued by one of the first looks of the show – a warm toffee coloured jacket with almost balloon-like sleeves and virtually no back at all. The piece encapsulated both high fashion concept with high street wearability.

Jessica Soon & Melissa Hibbot-Simpson

Jessica Soon (Scarf) Melissa Hibbot-Simpson (Jacket)

After the show, I was fortunate enough to speak to some of the designers about their inspiration and interpretations for this six-week project. Simone Aitchison, who created the glorious cube top/cape, explained how she was interested in not only cubism but also garments that didn’t sit exactly on the body and seemed to possess their own spirit and life. Renuka Pana spoke of how she drew upon the minimalist and almost unfinished nature of Angus’ paintings and was particularly influenced by the portraits.

Overall, the show truly exceeded my already high expectations and I have no doubt that the AUT Fashion Rookie exhibition on October 15th, which will showcase the marvels conjured up by final year students, will also succeed in displaying skill, kiwi ingenuity and innovation. Whether they will by successful with punctuality… well, I suppose you will have to go and see for yourself.

Images courtesy of AUT
First image is of a dress designed by
Violet Howlett-Aitken


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