Whitecliffe Cooking Up Designs to Rival Fashion Greats
Note to Rei Kawakubo and Gareth Pugh – you have competition. And by competition I mean there are some wicked spunky kids at Whitecliffe cooking up outfits which would give Alexander McQueen’s SS10 collection a run for its money in terms of sheer otherworldliness. There were garments which would have looked quite at home in the music videos of Lady Gaga. Sure, there weren’t any ten inch vase-like heels fortunately for the models, but there were some other rather ooh ahh inducing looks.
A major trend of the evening was the usage of sheer materials. Like the international runways, the catwalk of Whitecliffe was drenched in translucence with sheers ranging from creepy scary à la Chloe William’s, to Madeleine Harman’s pretty grey sheer tops.
I, personally, am a major sucker for sheers so I was more than happy to see them used so prevalently. I particularly liked Juliette Shannon’s use of creamy sheer silks which were both beautiful and eerie. Shannon distinguished her sheer look from those of others by toning down the boudoir sexy vibe and rendering her creation more at one with nature.
Of course, there was nothing natural about some of the amazing shoulders showcased on the runway. Big statement shoulders seemed to come one after the other and they were all highly varied in their immensity.
My favourites included a swampish look by Niketta Shine. With butterfly wing inspired shoulders jutting out to the side, the look was terribly avant-garde and, judging from the sudden rise in decibels amongst the crowd, the garment seemed to very much please the audience also.
Laura Freeman’s peaked and pointy shoulders was another which caught my eye with their altitudinous fabulosity. Her black, belted, ruff collared coat with kick-arse shoulders was simply to-die-for.
Speaking of death, the gothic aesthetic seemed to be quite the fixture amongst the Whitecliffe students with no shortage of black, leather, safety pins and combatesque boots. Many of the collections took inspiration from the subversive nature of goth culture and incorporated S & M and Victorian influences to create a stunning melange of darkness.
One of the trends that caught me most off-guard was the head encasement. This was generally in the form of a skintight bodysuit which also completely covered the head in a stretchy sheer fabric.
I was particularly captivated by Julia Campbell’s collection which was inspired by the paintings of Bridget Riley. Her pieces played on shape and even included extreme metal cage-like structures which were impressive to say the least.
And before I continue onto the fifth and final trend, I would like to clarify that the prevalence of the number five in my articles are completely out of coincidence and that I have not set out to deliberately choose five elements nor do I have a fetish for this admittedly attractive number. Any who, so the fifth trend was undoubtedly the exposure of bottom cheeks. Whether they were too short shorts or body suits, the designers were adamant on flashing the audience more than a wee bit of derriere. So, if you want to make like Whitecliffe, it is time to hit the gym so that when summer eventually/hopefully/possibly arrives, you can emulate this classy look.
As for the highlights of the evening, my fave collection entitled ‘off with her head’ came from year two student, Jessica Grubisa. The audience went wild for her spectacular amalgam of ruffs, enormous white wigs, deft use of leather and stark contrast in colour. Grubisa exhibited an uncanny level of skill and perception and really lifted the momentum of the evening, which was already not at all off to a slow start.
A tip of my hat also to Sally Huang whose collection, ‘The Golden Warrior’, inspired by the ancient Chinese Terracotta Army, featured an amazing hood comprised of metal circles and feathered shoulders. Huang, like Grubisa, was also in the year two category.
In fact, I must admit I was more impressed by the works of the second years than those of their seniors. Niketta Shine, another year two, whose collection ‘Karex’ took inspiration from swamplands and coastlines, featured some incredible silhouettes and detail. I was blown away by the bird’s wing attached to the hood and the nest on the model’s head. Shine’s range showed wit and creativity beyond her years.
All in all, from gothic to arse cheeks, the Whitecliffe kids sure know how to put on a show. It was admittedly a very long show but the crowd remained enthralled and on the edge of their seat for the entire duration. This cornucopia of creativity and individuality just goes to show that the good old adage about kiwi ingenuity extends to our wonderful little world of fashion.