The Ones To Watch: Up And Coming Designers From NZFW

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19 September 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Missed out on New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria? We’ve got the low down on all the emerging talent in Aotearoa that stood out from the crowd. 

Amelia Phillips

Calling all ruffle lovers! Amelia Phillips’ collection ‘Happily Ever After’ was featured at NZFW during the graduate show and was certainly a standout. Happily Ever After was a dissection of the classic one-wear wedding dress, and an analysis on how to make special bridal pieces that aren’t going to hang in the back of your closet for the rest of their life. With its soft, muted pinks and peach tones this collection felt like a dream. Tulle, quilting, gathers, and volume galore made Amelia’s Aotearoa Fashion Week debut a feminine delight. 

Sofia Heke

Sofia Heke is another designer hailing from Otago Polytechnic Te Pūkenga. Heke’s collection ‘The Hybridised Mind’ was displayed in the Miromoda show and did not disappoint. The Hybridised Mind collection delved into the experience of dual ethnicity, featuring feathers, paua shell, wool, and lace. It’s hard to go wrong with this colour scheme but Heke took things to the next level, including a married mixture of tulle and mesh as well. Keep an eye out, you’re definitely sure to see more of Heke’s work in the future.

Ruselle Ivan Tino – Ivantino house

Another up and coming designer from Otago Polytechnic is Ruselle Ivan Tino or ‘Ivantino House’ whose collection ‘Say Yes To Heaven’ focuses primarily on wedding attire for the maid of honour and bridesmaids. Who doesn’t love a bit of haute couture? The pure craftsmanship displayed in this collection was something to behold. Intricate and fine details like beading and tulle gathers did not go unnoticed. Ivantino House is perfect for those like Ruselle, who feel inspired by the glitz and glamour of it all.

Victoria Dons

Whilst these gorgeous pieces might look cheerful, their backstory may shock you. Victoria Dons’ collection ‘Bloomin’ Cancer’ was designed to bring awareness to how breast cancer forms, spreads, and ‘blooms’. Without any prior research, you’d never know the true meaning behind these pieces. Smiley models were walking down the runway, proudly presenting Victoria’s vision. The garments all had white bases with pink hues in the form of flourishing flowers on top to represent an MTT assay – where the saturation of the pink indicated where the cancer cells are the most present. Victoria Dons’ is definitely a designer to keep your eye on.

Milan Jeon

Drawing inspiration from painters and architects, Milan Jeon who is a graduate of Whitecliffe designs abstract garments that are utterly eye-catching. Each piece has its own story and the way Jeon combines asymmetry with sharp lines and clean cut edges can only be described as perfection. Milan Jeon’s pieces were a wonder to watch on the runway at NZFW, even the colour palette of black, white and red screams classic. We are loving this collection which is so professional yet playful, and serious yet satirical.

Kahuria was a whirlwind of a week and the emerging designers truly stole the spotlight. Between the dream-like creations of Amelia Phillips, the cultural richness of Sofia Heke, and the abstract elegance of Milan Jeon’s designs, it’s no secret that the future of fashion in Aotearoa shines brighter than ever. New Zealand Fashion Week may be over, but it’s just the beginning for these talented designers.

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