Graduate show parades the Massey fashion effect

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Fashion design students and graduates from Massey University are currently preparing for the inaugural Graduate Show that is part of next week's New Zealand Fashion Week.

Grace Redgrave's design of a Robinson
Cashmere coat and Kniggling Knit jumper

Megan Stewart's design of a Tetris jacket

What gives Massey University fashion designers that winning edge? With six of its students and recent graduates showing at New Zealand Fashion Week this month, many awards won in national and international competitions and illustrious alumni such as designer Kate Sylvester, we put that question to senior lecturer Sue Prescott from the School of Design at the College of Creative Arts.

“We foster independent learning, critical thinking and innovative approaches,” Ms Prescott says.

“Our students follow their own pathways. When they come here, we don’t expect them to research and make the same thing to get the skills and learning. We encourage them to experiment and break the rules.”

The top three Massey fashion design graduates from 2015, Sarah Parker, Grace Redgrave and Megan Stewart will see their designs paraded down the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week’s first Graduate Show on Thursday August 25. Ms Prescott says the audience can expect to see garments that feature digital printing, colour and non-conventional silhouettes. A menswear range made with minimal waste using innovative cutting methods will also be featured.

Another three Massey fashion design students were among the winners at the Miromoda Design competition for Māori designers in June and will show their work at Fashion Week’s Miromoda Showcase.   

Pania Tucker won the Emerging Designer award and the A.G. Park award for innovation at Miromoda with her collection “Alpine Stress’. The fourth-year Massey Honours student used distressed denim and other fabrics to articulate a Māori worldview about the environmental issues facing Tongariro National Park, where her Taupo iwi, Tūwharetoa, comes from. Len Houkamau, a fourth-year design student and Alana Cooper, a 2015 Bachelor of Design Honours graduate were awarded as Emerging Designers with merit at the same competition.

“We want students to interrogate what they do so it has validity in the fashion environment.  They can be very experimental and hugely commercial. We want to encourage our students to come up with ideas that add to the world of design,” Ms Prescott says.

Massey alumni include Kate Sylvester and Project Runaway winner Sean Kelly.

Fashion design students and graduates feature in the award lists of many competitions including the Hokonui and Zonta design awards. Last year, designer Steve Hall won the International Emerging Designer Award at ID Fashion Week in Dunedin and the supreme award at Miromoda. Rodney Leong won the supreme award at the World of Wearable Arts in 2007 and the WOW Factor award in 2015. Alumni are employed in New Zealand by designers such as Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester and Nom D and overseas by design companies like Alexander McQueen and Nike.

“The students showing at Fashion Week are tenacious and driven and have a ‘can do’ attitude,” Ms Prescott says.

“They are New Zealanders desperate to make a noise in a cutthroat industry. It is very hard to get into the industry and this is an opportunity for emerging designers to profile themselves on a platform where there are key players from the fashion industry and international media and buyers.”

For another taste of the Massey Fashion Effect the School of Design’s end of year fashion shows will be held in Wellington on November 11 and 12.