Last night in Auckland, at the penultimate show of the 2014 Marr Factory, Kate Sylvester presented her winter 2014 Sylvester collection. It was the first Sylvester presentation ever, as well as the first time a label has presented a new season (rather than an in-season) collection at the open-to-the-public event and, most importantly, was a lesson in how to effortlessly marry a strong theme to a wearable collection.
In our latest print issue, 'Young and Restless', I interview Pauly Bonomelli, designer behind experimental, mostly D.I.Y label Hi Mum I'm Dead. He's created costumes for Rihanna and collaborated with Australia's best designers, including Dion Lee and Romance was Born, and as somebody who creates unique (read: fucking bizarre and amazing), one-off pieces in his own work and commercial product in a lot of his collaborations, he has a really interesting perspective on how the advent of 'fast fashion' is affecting fashion design: "fast fashion is killing design. Established designers can't afford to present ideas that they are afraid won't sell and their ideas are scrutinised and filtered into "sellable" ranges. From discussing this with some of them it's obvious they still want to do crazy shit but they can't, especially because while they try to do something new and exciting the chain brands are biting at their heels; stealing their customers with filtered-down and more wearable versions of their designs."
He paints a bleak picture, but Kate Sylvester, in both her mainline and diffusion line, Sylvester, offers a little light at the end of the tunnel. Last night she presented her winter 2014 Sylvester range, and the collection pays homage to both David Lynch's piece de resistance, Twin Peaks, and New Zealand's rural, natural heritage. The presentation opened with a model brandishing a working chainsaw - which was at once both petrifying and badass-as-hell - to an excellently-curated soundtrack that began with American slacker indie rock band Parquet Courts (a highlight at Laneway Festival earlier this year). An axe, draped over the shoulder of one girl and a log (hi Log Lady!), protectively carried under the arm of another rounded out the thematic accessories while little worker beanies complete with Sylvester patches, workwear socks worn over the top of pants and check shirts wrapped around waists rounded out the more wearable extra flourishes. The clothing itself is like '70s Freaks and Geeks-style nerd-wear meets Moonrise Kingdom's wardrobe department (which I guess are kind of the same thing) as quilted parkas were - in Kate Sylvester's signature marriage between casual wear and ladylike evening wear - styled with floor-length gowns and cute stripe-y knickers. If you go down to the woods today (or in like March next year when this collection drops) you should probably wear Sylvester winter 2015.
Words: Courtney Sanders
Photographs: Daniel Betham
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