Making a very welcome return to New Zealand Fashion Week after a five year hiatus, Kate Sylvester’s show was definitely the most anticipated of the week.
A full house awaited the collection entitled ‘Tartt’, referencing the literary work of writer Donna Tartt, before a voiceover of her first novel ‘The Secret History’ began proceedings. As the first model was revealed in a nonchalant dotted suit, to the blaring sound of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Never Understand’ it was clear that this show was going to have everyone rooting for their favourite local fashion heroine.
The next look was also masculine in its references, an ivory deep v-cut collegiate sweater, long camel trench and striped tailored trousers.
Relaxed dresses and separates in muted hues reclaimed some femininity in the following looks, before the first of Sylvester’s male models took to the runway, unfortunately not marking the return of her menswear line but instead cleverly highlighting the masculine influences and wearability of the collection.
Her bookish muse directly influenced the range as the passages printed on the show notes came to life on the runway. Tartt’s ‘wisp of silk in a forest of black wool’ and ‘beautiful starchy shirts with French cuffs’ were intelligently interpreted with Sylvester’s signature swan motif also making an appearance embroidered onto shirts and knits.
Lacy lingerie peeked out of soft knits and delicate silks adding the requisite ladylike touches that help make the designer’s pieces so covetable each season. Standout looks were a teal leather wrap dress, a luxurious black velvet evening skirt and matching sweeping dress, not to mention the stunning furs and the eye-catching yellow boucle finale dress, elegant in its simplicity.
Confetti made from chopped up book pages rained down on the runway in the closing moments of the show as the models did a striking finale walk en masse. It was a fitting celebration of Kate Sylvester’s 21 years in the fashion business and definitely marked her triumphant return to the NZFW runway.
There really was no denying that many pieces from this intelligent collection will be on every well-read woman’s must-have list for winter next year.
– Evelyn Ebrey
Images: Yvonne Shearer Photography