Finale at Tanya Carlson’s New Zealand Fashion Week 2017 show.
In what was undoubtedly the show of the week, Tanya Carlson made her much-anticipated return to the New Zealand Fashion Week runway tonight after a decade-long hiatus, celebrating a remarkable twenty years of her eponymous womenswear brand, Carlson.
When I interviewed Tanya Carlson a few weeks ago, I was delighted to learn that instead of showing Winter 2018 or Summer 2017/18, she had something truly unique in mind and was creating a special collection of demi-couture garments that were handcrafted from her extensive vintage fabric archive. This means that all of the nearly sixty pieces are completely one-off and the designer also utilised her collection of delicate beading and vintage embroidery to make each piece even more special.
Show night arrived and a capacity crowd were packed into the stunning new Mason Bros. building by Warren and Mahoney just around the corner from the main NZFW venue. Presented by Holden, Carlson’s show featured a nearly 70-metre long runway which enabled every guest to have a great view and there was a palpable buzz in the air as we waited for the show to start.
First up on the runway was the gorgeous Ashleigh Good in a sublime ensemble comprised of a soft peach tailored jacket, crisp collared white shirt with a navy bustier over the top and blue abstract floral printed trousers that had burgundy piping details. The effect was a beautiful combination of the designer’s vintage influences with the 90s feel that would run through the collection and we were instantly hooked. Carlson is a master of mixing up ideas and inspiration to create signature looks that have her own twist.
The next outfits that followed were equally as winsome and we got a strong sense of the old western meets Chinoiserie meets the 90s feel that no one else but Carlson could pull off so seamlessly. Charming velvet bombers were teamed with frilled shirts and tailored pants for effortlessly cool looks while a luscious silk slip peeked out from under a floral wrap dress worn and belted as a jacket. The emphasis in this collection was the feminine silhouette which the designer has always done so superbly but mixed in with a casual 90s streetwear vibe that added a playfulness to the range, seen in the likes of the amazing snap pants in dreamy velvet.
There really aren’t enough adequate superlatives to describe how brilliant this collection truly is and we were blown away by all the clever details that perfectly tied each look together. It must be said that stylist Sarah Stuart did a skilful job of mixing up all the magnificent fabrics and colours in a way that made us covet absolutely everything on the runway, aided by the perfect patent pumps from Issimo. We adored the elegant velvet skirts in ladylike lengths and a dash of sequins as a crop top, not to mention the clever use of cheongsam features and mandarin collars on tops and jackets.
It wouldn’t be a Carlson collection without jaw-droppingly beautiful dresses and the designer crafted a succession of exquisitely detailed dresses and gowns in delicately pretty vintage florals featuring gorgeous beading and lace inserts. The silhouettes, necklines and sleeves gave us a prairie feel that was emphasised by the blouses underneath and lace-up details. The evening gowns that closed the show were absolute knockouts and Carlson deviated away from the soft pastels and deep hues of burgundy, navy and emerald of the rest of the collection to deliver an electric blue gown in a silk taffeta that was straight out of the 80s. The gown featured a beautiful wide ruffle around the skirt, lace-up detailing at the back and a charming floral cummerbund that tied the look together and had a 90s appeal but was still very much of the moment. She closed with an oh so elegant full-skirted black gown with pockets that reminded us of vintage Balenciaga and was an ideal way to finish.
We were still revelling in the magnificent fashion we’d just seen when soulful diva Hollie Smith took to the runway for the finale, singing live as the models did their final walk. Her impressive set of vocal cords gave us chills and was a fitting end to a show we will never forget. As Carlson stepped onto the runway for her bow she was greeted with a roaring standing ovation from the crowd and was visibly moved as she collected the waiting bouquet to celebrate her special night. Congratulations to Tanya Carlson for an unbelievable show and a truly outstanding collection that beautifully celebrated her impeccable skills as a designer, we won’t ever be forgetting this magical night.
Beauty notes: Soft flushes of peach and glitter dusted eyes by Blair Gamblin from MAC Cosmetics.
Soundtrack: Suitably rocking 90s tracks like Malibu by Hole.
Hot item: How could you possibly expect us to choose? Every single thing!
If you want to snap up a piece of Carlson’s sublime collection many of the pieces from the runway will be for sale at Carlson’s Ponsonby boutique at 120 Ponsonby Road from Saturday 2nd September for a limited time only.
Images by Katherine Tuenter.