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Daily updates from NZ Fashion Week 2011

Daily updates from NZ Fashion Week 2011

If fashion is your religion…

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Trelise Cooper took us to church on day two of fashion week but before we experienced religion, we enjoyed the creations of a true couturier.

The anticipation for Alexandra Owen was keen. Fresh from critical acclaim in New York, the Wellington designer would be styled by uber-stylist Karen Inderbitzen-Waller. In fashion terms, this is an inspired coupling. And the results being played to the home crowd didn’t disappoint.

Although Owen has previously proclaimed that she likes to make clothes for women who want to look “feminine but without compromising their dignity”, Inderbitzen-Waller added a slightly dark edge by covering the model’s heads in sheer headscarves.

Her love of draping was apparent with a simple floor-grazing saffron silk dress that had a “draped, placed and fixed” neckline that extended over the bust.

But the theme of the show was the recurrence of what may well become known as the “Chesterfield sofa effect”. Owen made diamond shapes in the fronts of dresses, on pockets, cigarette pants and even red wool coats by catching them with covered buttons. It was enough to transform a simple long-sleeved dress into something else altogether.

Owen certainly has the heart of a couturier, which is coupled with the need to create pieces so intelligent you almost need a degree to wear them. And her show proved those well-schooled in fashion will continue to flock to Alexandra Owen.

Check out the Alexandra Owen catwalk photos here.

Trelise Cooper was in a contemplative mood in the Fashion Week tent, although it may not have seemed like it from the first half of the show that was Cooper by Trelise.

This was the usual mad but endearing pairings of the unexpected that Cooper has made her reputation on. This year combat chic fought it out with animal print in a procession of army-green frilled shorts, cargo pants and a sleeveless puffer with Paddington Bear toggles. Anyone for camo sequins? This was worked with a cacophony of leopard print and even some cute flamingo print. The result was wild and rather adorable.

But things got a lot more serious when, after a short interval where the audience was plunged into darkness, it was obvious Cooper was taking a walk on the ecclesiastical side. The lights came up and there was a beautifully illuminated stained glass window scene straight from a church as the backdrop for the Trelise Cooper part of the show.

She had touchingly dedicated the show to her “beloved father, who passed away in July. I will miss seeing his face and love in the front row” she noted on the printed credits.

There followed a more restrained Trelise; although it didn’t quite wander into “get thee to a nunnery” territory, she had certainly done away with the layer-upon-layer outfits of previous years. She’d made stained glass windows out of sequins and used them as tops. Cue choirs of angels.

And black, the mourner’s preferred choice of colour, even got more of an outing this year than previously. Fashion Quarterly’s pick of the collection was the show-stopping finale bolero made from thousands of black triangles sewn together so that, when the model walked, it had a life of its own. We can’t wait to get up-close to it to marvel at its construction.

See the runway photos here.

Dunedin label NOM*d took a detour from the traditional runway show format for their off-site evening presentation at a warehouse in the same complex Zambesi used on Tuesday night. Whether that detour was a success or not depends on who you ask. If you were after a show that would give you a clear idea of what will be on the label's racks next season, you would have been out of luck. But if you are a fan of NOM*d's dark, angsty and multi-layered aesthetic, an arty live reproduction of that very style might be right up your alley.

After acquiring a drink at the sponsor-stocked bar, guests milled near a set which included a dining table laid with candle sticks, the shell of a wrecked car, a spindly tree with bare branches, a mound of river stones and a big brass bed.

After about 20 minutes a lone female wearing what looked in the smoky haze to be a long black dress reminiscent of Victorian mourning attire (put through a grungy NOM*d wringer), hair plastered to her face, began laying cutlery on the table.

Fast forward seven to 10 minutes of the same before she was joined by six other male and female models at the table. All with the same disheveled appearance and wearing layered black outfits paired with chunky white boots, they began going through the motions of a family dinner party. Except this family could have been from a slightly twisted horror film as they laughed manically at random intervals with slightly crazed looks in their eyes. It was strange and unsettling and pretty far from every other fashion show we've ever been to.

The performance went on in the same manner, including an interlude by singer Rebekah Davis. All of this, we gleaned from the press release, was meant to evoke a medieval moment where families faced the threat of war, pestilence and famine, where life is fragile and the angel of death never far from the door.

As for the clothes, of what we could see of them, the long oversized black jumpers knitted in large loops to resemble chain mail and a blue checked shirt were our favourites. The t-shirts printed with skeleton prints will be familiar to the label's fans, as will the box-pleat school skirts, leather accents and harness belts. There appeared to be slightly less deconstructionism and raw edges than usual but we couldn't be completely sure because of the very dark and obstructed view.

See what you think of the NOM*d installation.

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