Kate Sylvester at FW '09 – review

Consummate Kate

It wasn’t apparent from the audience that ‘80s style icon about town Judith Baragwanath a.k.a Blacklips was the inspiration for Kate Sylvester’s Diamond Dogs show, but I do have “dark lips” written on my notes! Now that we know the muse I can stop stumbling through terms like “punk princesses” trying to find the one that evokes the look for you.

Just a bit about Judith Baragwanath – forgive me for any historical inaccuracies as this is from actual memory – in the ‘80s she was often seen striding through Parnell where she was ‘Auckland’s most famous Maitre d’, a tall, slim, elegant thoroughbred with wild streaming hair, black lipstick, some old greatcoat and Doc Martens.

Now back to the collection – Sylvester translates this to slightly sparkly tweed; mid slate grey with a little cool, dark aubergine; a bit of fur, a trench coat, the odd fine horizontal stripe knit…

…then revs up to show a black lace-trimmed aubergine luxe slip layered over a schoolboy charcoal shirt with the sleeves rolled up; a shirt dress and a flash of silky print…

…and then wham! The long ruched side apricot satin dress and the light blue “Dallas” short dress with what looked like metallic – lips! catching its asymmetrical drapery. A ragged tulle tutu in black, a paneled dress with – lip! motif (you’ve got to wonder why I hadn’t picked up the inspiration by this stage!)

There were a couple of fab looking PVC pieces, and baggy pleat top, low crotch leggings look like a wardrobe staple – Sylvester’s answer to pleggings?

The tight menswear offering offset girly boys against the highbred girls – there were some nice warm-yet-neutral shades and good looking pant cuts. I loved the boy who wore the same black lace trimmed woman’s slip – they really were quite wild times those ‘80s and people were experimenting with – ahem – self-expression, all over the place, notably those who frequented the affluent inner city watering holes like that where Baragwanath reigned.

But Sylvester’s extraordinary and consistent cleverness and wit aside, what about the clothes? Two consecutive fashion industry girls, one 30 and one 40, both youthful and stunning, sighed to me “I would wear every single garment” – I think that says it all.

– Julie Roulston

Photography c/- Hilary Johnston

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