The iD Dunedin Fashion Week Emerging Designer Awards 2016

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iD Dunedin Fashion Week Emerging Designer Awards first place winner Jordan Anderson’s collection on the runway tonight.

Fashion is one of the most exciting, innovative and challenging industries in the world, it’s constantly evolving and thrives on the new which is why emerging designer competitions like tonight’s iD Dunedin Fashion Week Emerging Designer Awards are so fascinating to watch.  Whittled down from an initial pool of over 150 entries, the experienced panel of fashion judges spent yesterday viewing the collections of 38 talented young designers who had traveled from various regions of New Zealand and all over the world to compete for over $15,000 worth of cash and prizes. FashioNZ was allowed to sit in on that judging and observe each competitor present their collections which was an intriguing insight into the current state of fashion and its future.

Lead by convenor and head judge Tanya Carlson, who is one of Dunedin’s most celebrated designers, the judging panel comprised of Auckland born, London-based womenswear designer, Emilia Wickstead, who dresses the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge in her vintage-inspired label, national guest designer, Kate Sylvester, whose distinguished design career has spanned over two decades, London-based founder and owner of Not Just Another Label, Stefan Siegal, who specialises in finding and showcasing new talent via his successful online platform, Sydney journalist and fashion commentator, Patty Huntington, and Dunedin’s beloved Margi Robinson who is the designer of local label NOM*d and owner of Plume boutique. Walking in with models dressed in their creations, each contestant had five minutes to explain to the judges the inspiration for their collection, the techniques used to make the garments and what was unique about their offering before the judges had a further two minutes to ask any questions they had about the designer or their collection. While some contestants were bold and confidently discussed the reasoning behind their collections, others were more timid, clearly intimidated by the judging panel, but everyone managed to deliver their artistic statement and many shared look books or in some cases fabric samples to further illustrate their design choices.

All of the contestants were from various fashion schools and have spent three to four years in an environment that fosters creativity which is imperative for any designer when they’re required to find inspiration for collections several times a year. To succeed in the competition the contestants needed to showcase their talent and point of difference in a way that made the judges sit up and take notice. “This competition is interesting because it’s so broad, it’s not necessarily about the best construction, or about the best cutting, it’s that overall look that makes us go wow!” says Tanya Carlson. “It might be an incredible silhouette or some sort of technique that we haven’t seen before. Especially in the last two years we’ve seen technology that we haven’t seen before. We’ve been watching the students use technology in terms of construction which may not be that traditional methodology of a needle and thread, it could be bonding, plastics or 3D printing, the field is wide open for change.”

Unlike previous years when there were obvious trends coming through as the young designers displayed their collections, this year there was even more indivduality on display. “I think there has been some really big change in fashion and it’s really hard to compare different years work because what I’ve found is that it is so strongly individual, it is very much people’s personal tastes and what they really like themselves,” adds Carlson. “One of the questions I always ask is ‘who are they wearing?’ As I think it’s really telling that some people wear their own designs and have watered them down and you can see that style is really them.”

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Second place winner Hannah Kim’s collection on the iD runway tonight.

After a long day of inspecting fabrics and construction as well as quizzing the young designers on their ideas, schooling and future plans, the judging panel had to try and narrow down a shortlist for each prize before deciding on the winners. It was a heated process at times, given that each judge has different personal tastes, experience and reasons why certain collections caught their eye but a clear consensus had to be made in the end. Carlson had earlier joked that the panel ‘may come to loggerheads’ while trying to make the decisions behind closed doors.

Tonight all 38 finalists were given their time to shine on the runway before an audience of 1400 at Dunedin’s Town Hall as Carol Hirschfeld hosted the awards show which had a palpable buzz in the air from the start. As each collection hit the runway it was clear to all assembled that the judges had indeed made incredibly tough choices as the standard of competition was exceedingly high with some very clever ideas and different approaches to style on display. One of the best things about these kinds of competitions is seeing young designers at the beginning of their career knowing that this just the start of what they can do and it is likely that many of the designers showing will go on to develop successful careers in the fashion industry when given the right guidance and support.

Local designers were among the crowd favourites who received loud applause from the crowd of fashion fans but ultimately it was Jordan Anderson from Brisbane’s Queensland University of Technology that took out the top honour which is the H&J First Prize ($6000 prize money). His collection of bold sportswear was called ‘Global Citizen’ and tells the story of the designer’s creative journey during an international exchange program visiting 14 countries across the world. Upon accepting his award the overjoyed designer shared that his current dream was to ‘live life and see a kid walk down the street in his designs’ which will likely be happening much sooner than he anticipated after tonight’s prestigious win.

This year’s winners are:
– The H&J First Prize ($6000) Jordan Anderson, 24, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
– iD Dunedin Fashion Inc. 2nd Place ($4000): Hannah Kim, 22, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
– Gallery De Novo 3rd Place ($2000): Stephanie Frig, 22, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
– The Fabric Store Award for Excellence in Design worth $3000 (includes $2000 fabric): Lucy Virgona, 23, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
– Dunedin’s Golden Centre Mall Most Commercial Collection Prize ($1000): Sophie Ball, 22, Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand
– The Susie Staley Special Achievement Award ($1000): Ilham Ismail, 21, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
– The ZM and Viva Editorial Prize (awarded to best NZ collection): Kingkang Chen, 24, Whitecliffe College, New Zealand

In special recognition of her collection, which displayed exceptional fabric technology and craftsmanship, Emilia Wickstead also awarded third place prize winner Stephanie Frig, an opportunity of an internship with Emilia Wickstead in London.

After such an outstanding display of ingenuity and imagination on the runway it will be fascinating to see what these young designers do next, although there is little doubt that you will be hearing much more about these names in future. Congratulations to all the winners and competitors of iD Dunedin Fashion Week Emerging Designer Awards 2016.

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Third place winner Stephanie Frig’s collection on the iD runway tonight.

Images from iD Dunedin Fashion Week.

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