With Fashion Week behind us, we now have time to slow down, regroup and reflect on New Zealand’s biggest fashion event of the year.
As fashion media engage on the Fashion Week frenzy, it’s easy to forget about those clever designers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make the country’s hottest ticket a success.
Over the next three weeks, we share Lulu’s backstage chats with three of FashioNZ’s favourite designers.
BACKSTAGE @ KAGI JEWELLERY: KAT GEE
Newcomer to NZ Fashion Week this year is jewellery designer Kat Gee, who will be showing the newest Kagi spring collection titled, ‘Birds Of Paradise’, in her very own catwalk show.
As a previous NZ Design ambassador, Kat has always had a passion for jewellery and design. Starting at the age of eight selling clay pendants at school, a career in jewellery seemed almost inevitable. Fast forward to 2006 when Kagi was born and Kat’s desire to create ‘bold and simple’ designer jewellery, using both real gemstones and pearls, came true. Since then business has taken off with Kagi being stocked in top destination stores all across Australasia.
I spoke to the lovely Kat Gee, head stylist of Kagi Jewellery about her inspiration for this season’s collection, and her role in putting together this first fashion jewellery extravaganza.
What was your inspiration to design the ‘Birds Of Paradise’ jewellery collection?
Birds of Paradise is all about attractive, beautiful statement pieces that catch the eye and make every garment gorgeous. They change your look from day to day and have that wonderful power of attraction.
How do you feel about styling Kagi’s first ever catwalk show?
I didn’t employ a stylist; instead I worked with Morag Brownlie and my team here at Kagi. They’re brilliant with jewellery. We loved collaborating on how to pair each species of bird with different gems.
For example, our Tui had wonderful black agate and a beautiful knot of pearls as the ruffle on the Tui’s neck. All pieces were from our current collection and it was great to see them in a theatrical setting.
What can we expect to see down the runway?
It was difficult to have a runway show just for jewellery and we wanted to bring the Kagi Birds of Paradise collection to life. I chose to work with filmmaker and show creator Morag Brownlie and her Birds of Paradise show, which is all about the courtship habits of New Zealand native birds. The runway show was full of theatre, dance and song as well as other performances that really show the many ways that birds (and humans) attract their mates.
What is your favourite Kagi piece you have styled this season and why?
The bluebird in our Birds of Paradise show that was performed by Auckland jazz singer Caitlin Smith featured beautiful turquoise gems and a multi-faceted aqua crystal teardrop. It was just so striking against the peacock colours of the dress. It was very exciting for us to see the jewellery brought to life with such passion on the catwalk.
Step-by-step method on how you achieve the overall look we see on the catwalk:
For the overall look it was a huge collaborative process. Morag’s wonderful costumes were used alongside some new ones that were developed collaboratively. We also had amazing hair creations by KMS and faces by the wonderfully talented makeup artist, Darren Meredith. Our own team really dug deep to find the best way to appropriately jewel the birds. It was a fantastic process and a beautiful result.
What goes into the procedure for choosing a hair/ make-up look: especially to compliment jewellery?
We were a bit lucky in that the Birds of Paradise collection plus the Birds of Paradise show already described a lot of creative elements we were working with. We decided which birds from the show we wanted to work with and it was great to see how hair and makeup, as well as our own jewellery team, were inspired by those particular birds. Again it was an excellent collaborative effort with a fantastic result.
In terms of preparation, how do you get ready for a jewellery fashion show?
We had a lot of elements to consider in this show including the creation of jewellery combinations that would work on dancers. Because of this we couldn’t have long strands and heavy pendants. These could have become tangled or torn off.
We had to consider how to keep the necklaces short and close to the body. Having said that, for the main opening performer, we were able to ready drape the jewels to stunning effect.
How did you become a stylist for Kagi?
My role at Kagi is to be both head of business but also lead stylist, so it’s an essential part of my role in the business to be able to take leadership here. We were so excited to bring jewellery to New Zealand Fashion Week in an innovative way.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is all about expressing your personality, your individuality and your mood in a creative way and it should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion stylist?
I was eight when I started selling clay pendants at school, so I guess I knew from a very young age. I remember being at our family home in the Marlborough Sounds and asking myself what would I do if I could do anything. I knew then I wanted to be a jewellery designer. It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember.
What is the biggest accomplishment in your career to date?
I would have to say being a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards was one but, certainly, walking the catwalk at the end of the fashion week show has to rate extremely highly.
Describe some of the highlights of your job?
I’m extremely lucky to have a job that allows me to be creative constantly. To be able to travel and meet amazing people every day and make a living from it – I really am living the dream.
Sum up your personal style in 4 words
Every day in every way.
– Lulu Wilcox
Images: Norrie Montgomery, The A List