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NZ designer proposes on the catwalk

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 28/08/2015
Designer Hohepa Thompson proposed to Mia Brennan at the end of the runway. New Zealand Fashion Week - Thursday

When a marriage proposal happens live on the runway, you know it’s going to be a good day.

Midway through the Miromoda show, designers Hohepa Thompson and Mia Brennan emerged from the top of the runway to greet the audience. Hohepa got down on one knee as we all watched on.

His new fiancé gave a wide smile, nodding her head quickly…I think that was a yes!?

But back to the clothes. From the outset, it was clear that all 14 designers were set to impress. Steve Hall, Kylie Mangan, Aaliyah Jobe and Shona Tawhiao sent tingles down my spine, amidst a selection of other strong designers, each with a unique aesthetic.

Everyone pulled out their iPhones to snap Steve Hall’s menswear collection of Japanese inspired, Kabuki skirts rolled over at the waist. I for one, have a penchant for structured garments and his had me breathless with excitement— so much so, that later, I found myself gushing to the designer in a moment of passion: “I need to get hold of your pieces!” I yelled in his ear. It might sound embarrassing, but it had to be done.

Structured quilting in full ensembles will be huge next winter, if Kylie Mangan and Aaliyah Jobe’s collections are anything to go by. Both designers showing statement dark, street-ready garments that exude underground cool.

Breathtaking black basketry sent looks of amazement around the room and iPhones were at the ready again as Shona Tawhiao’s avant-garde headdresses and other show-stopping outfits of a similar vein followed suit. This was modern, edgy Pasifika at it’s best—the stuff we all hope to be inspired by as part of a fashion week experience.

Later on, I was extremely excited to see Project Runway’s winner, Sean Kelly. The designer showed great diversity reigned in by sleek choker-collared necks, off shoulder tops; white draping with a sprinkle of elegantly placed fringing, light satin blue suits, and passionate fire engine red which sent hearts palpitating.

The final look was a full-length, body-hugging netted dress worn only with a G-string for full near-naked effect. “That’s risqué,” I whispered to myself, as jaws dropped around me. Do I look, or do I look away?

Sean’s parents told me that the designer has been highly focused on this collection.

“He said backstage that this was the most relaxed he’s ever been before a show, with a great team of people behind him,” his mother Margaret Kelly said.

Sean’s dad, John Kelly, said they’d been pre-warned about the barely-there outfits. “He told me there would be an ‘art component … he often does this kind of thing.”

Ruby Show at an Auckland City carpark. © Diego Opatowski/RNZ Ruby Show at an Auckland City carpark.

Ruby’s show ‘Tonight, Tonight,’ was held in a parking building near K Road. Seventies silhouettes predominated with heavy bangs and bronzed-faced models. Bell-shaped sleeves and pretty pastel hues were a highlight of the collection in wool. Models walked in and around corners of the runway disappearing and reappearing, until they stopped.

And then it happened. Three actors dressed in Ruby garb in what became an hysterical and entertaining comical act, involving extreme gestures as they chased one another around the carpark in a choreographed scene. Hips gyrated, facial expressions bordered on ridiculous and arms flung out wide. This is the kind of dancing that we all do at home when nobody is looking … or is that just me?

Shoe designer Sarah Riley enjoyed the show’s ready-to-wear pieces, marking out the garments on her buyers card in preparation for the new release. “I loved the playsuits, it’s just really nice fun stuff, and the comedy just really broke up the show, it was great!”

Another attendee, Cyrus Chow, loved the music and setting at Ruby. As we chatted over loud hip hop music he explained the reason why he prefers seeing womenswear over the staple items of shirts, jackets and pants that make up a guy’s everyday wardrobe. “Womenswear is more diverse and it was good to have some smiling faces in the audience. It’s nice to switch it up.”

Loud applause, heads bobbing to the music (including mine) and gleeful smiles abounded as people left for the evening—some racing off to Zambesi back at the Viaduct in what I hear was a packed-out audience on the final night of industry shows for New Zealand Fashion Week, 2015.

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