Following a pattern: Students collections rack-ready for FORM

News News & events

26 Jun 2018

Ready designers? A drive to succeed, a passion for fashion, and likely more than a few cups of coffee have been sustaining Ara Bachelor of Design students as they prepare for the annual FORM exhibition, opening Friday 29 June at City Campus.

“It’s all been about getting to that final outcome,” student Kristie McCormack says. “It’s everything we’ve been working for this semester, and so I just view it like my baby. Exhibiting my collection is going to be really exciting.”

Industry directed

FORM will showcase 12 student collections, each created to meet a different brief from clients including top New Zealand labels BLAK, Kowtow and Swanndri, and international labels including Australian designer autark and London based M.i.h Jeans.

Throughout their three-year degree, the Bachelor of Design (Fashion and Technology) students gain invaluable industry experience and final year students undertake 140-hour work placements with some of the top names in fashion. Fashion Programme Leader, Nicola Chrisp says this introduces students to real working life.

“Essentially what we’re asking them to do is what would be expected of them in half a year, in the industry. Students get given a client brief to interpret, and then they design and create a mini collection comprising five standalone looks. They design all the concepts, refine it, present it, make the patterns and the garments, put their selling booklet together, do their photoshoot and then showcase it,” Chrisp says describing a process common for industry to repeat a few times a year.

Working with DEVàL

McCormack feels lucky to have secured a placement with Christchurch label DEVàL.

“DEVàL at the Tannery manufactures everything onsite, which is really rare for a fashion label in Christchurch. In the workroom I helped to cut, sew, and make new patterns.”

With DEVàL’s designated brief in hand, McCormack set out to design her transeasonal collection ‘Decadence’, inspired by the cult-classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Drawing upon her DEVàL workshop experience McCormack put key skills from her course into practise.

She has created an eveningwear collection utilising black, dusty pink and khaki, and natural fabrics including suede, silk and wool; perfect for DEVàL’s signature aesthetic which owner/head designer Debbie Lawson describes as “pretty and feminine with a sophisticated structure”.

McCormack is confident she has hit the brief on the mark. “Debbie wanted a range of evening wear, dresses you could wear to weddings or engagement parties, and any social event. One of DEVàL’s top clients is Gemma Flynn, Richie McCaw’s wife, so I used her as my muse and gained inspiration from things she’s worn to events.”

The collections

Designed as a capsule collection, the pieces are interchangeable. “The clothing is based on classic occasion wear styles that have been given a twist to add a point of difference to your wardrobe,” McCormack says.

Other collections to look out for on display at FORM include ‘Naturally Authentic’, a non-gender bias collection based on sustainability by student Genaya McKenzie for Senorita Awesumo, and ‘Iki’ a collection, influenced by Japanese modern minimalist fashion, created by Ruby Harley for Miss Crabb.

Working with industry was eye opening for McCormack and her classmates.
“It made me realise how much of what we learn in class is industry focused… and I think industry is equally pleased by how we can just pick up on what they’re doing straight away.”

Student’s collections will be under the microscope on opening night, with industry and guests in the crowd. The students will also get to experience the thrill of selling their carefully designed collections in the pop-up shop (Saturday 30 June- Tuesday 3 July) in Ara’s Kahukura building.

McCormack hopes to sell all her garments and says she will be working over the holidays to resize any specially ordered pieces. “There’s no resting!” she laughs.

Form opens doors

Chrisp says that FORM can help students begin to establish their name in the highly competitive fashion industry.

“In the past it has been quite a common occurrence for designers to ask students to give them a call once they graduate. We have had students go work for designers including Karen Walker, taylor, and DEVàL, and BLAK Manufacturing in Christchurch. ”

Although FORM is on the horizon, students will only have a brief time to clear their heads before they will begin to prepare for this year’s main event: end of year runway show Pitch.

McCormack is excited to continue learning from the big names in the industry. Once she has graduated she wants to begin her career working for a big company to learn the tricks of the trade, with dreams to launch her own label one day. For now, Semester two awaits…

FORM would not be possible without generous industry support from Portfolio Model Agency, Kristen Stewart School of Make-up and True Grit Hair Spa, as well as Institute support from the photography students, and graphic design students.