Thursday, November 19, 2015

Females who are designers of menswear

Fashion graduate Grace Redgrave is a tomboy who rates some of her best friends as blokes. Growing up on an organic winery near Cambridge in the Waikato, her parents taught her the importance of sustainability. The Massey University fashion graduate has designed her final year collection with these driving themes in mind. Winner of two of the fashion school's top awards – one for design and innovation, the other for technical expertise – Redgrave says her collection was "inspired by the brotherhood of manhood".
One of three top fashion graduates at Massey University this year, the 22-year-old's collection has a story behind it, notably the journey of four friends to build a gravity-pulled vehicle to enter in the soap-box derby competition. Tailored garments are matched with scribbled prints and embroidery, hand-drawn screen prints and secret messages. Pointing to a large pattern on the wall of the university's exhibition centre, she also used zero-waste printmaking techniques for each garment – in other words, each pattern was cut from one piece of paper; similarly, the jackets she designed were cut from one bolt of cloth.
Redgrave's philosophy to make zero-waste garments is time-consuming and fiddly. Showing a jacket with no side seam or shoulder seam, she says such ideas create more work. "I have always loved fashion but I was always concerned about how to design and create using ethical and sustainable solutions."
Megan Stewart's collection was inspired by a "bleak look at TV culture."
Photography | Chloe Ann Ramsamy
It's a natural fit for the 22-year-old to design menswear. "I understand men better. I've always had a lot of male friends and I've been intrigued by men and the adventures they go on."
Today wearing black-and-white-spotted trousers and a black jacket, she says she usually wears pants. Growing up, her mother wouldn't let her wear pink. Like the boys in her soap-box derby story, the fashion graduate is also adventurous. Once she packs up her final year collections and leaves Wellington, Redgrave has organised a four-month trek – solo – through Australia's Outback, where she hopes to be inspired by Aboriginal culture and traditions. She plans to return to study a Masters in Fashion Design next year, and the ultimate plan is to take her zero-waste ideas to India, where she would like to work.
Megan Stewart laughs that she "was such a TV kid", and her final year collection is a bleak look at our TV culture. "I love doing my collections on the bad things in our lives."
Originally from Auckland, she won awards for innovation and creativity, and the best use of knitted garments. Her final collection is inspired by pop culture images, particularly those by the American photographer David LaChapelle. Designing four looks, the eye-catching pieces are her polyester weave jacket printed with dramatic pop art images, and a tailored vest made out of lycra also featuring pop art.
Stewart shows her ability to design avant garde with such pieces. But she also has a talent for commercial design – her orange merino knit pantsuit, black dress and embroidered check one-piece are wearable, everyday pieces.
Sarah Parker also won two awards, one for exceptional research and design. It's an honour to get such a gong, particularly when the winner of the same award two years ago, Sean Kelly, went on to win Project Runway last year.
The 22-year-old has the day off from her job at Wellington's Rembrandt Suits, where she is the co-ordinator of its made-to-measure section. Originally from Nelson, her collection explores the ideas of fantasy and escapism in a world plagued by disaster. Inspired by Franck Bohbot's images of the Parisian fair Foire du Trone, the collection is a vehicle for evading reality. "I wanted to create a fun fantasyland where people could escape from the everyday. I did want to have a sense of humour about it, and to make it fun and lighthearted."
Taking aspects from Bohbot's images, she printed her fantastical images on silk twill and cotton drill. "I had in my mind the idea of the playground ride." She imagines her unisex puffer jackets appealing in Europe and Japan. "I'm not sure that every guy would wear the puffer jacket," says Parker, who also spent six weeks on an internship at Karen Walker's headquarters in Auckland last year.
Fashion school lecturer Sue Prescott is understandably proud of the students' talent. "Grace has raw energy for creating commercial design with sustainable methods. Sarah has a very unafraid approach to design, colour and silhouette and is an endless source of creative and innovative ideas."


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