AUT Rookie Show: Our Ones to Watch

On Tuesday night AUT University held it’s annual Rookie show – a showcase of the best graduating talent from their fashion design course. Held in Shed 10 on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf, 24 students presented their collections in a slickly produced show with an even slicker soundtrack. The show also happened to be Rookie’s 10 year anniversary, a celebration in itself considering its significance to the industry. Looking for the next big thing in fashion? Here’s where to start…

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Finale – Caroline Stephen (white) and Jarrad Godman (black).

Visually the show was on point. The setting itself – with its expansive, industrial feel (LOVE the exposed steel framework), high stud and beautiful dark timber floors – provided a graphic contrast to the glowing perspex catwalk built in the shape of a cross. Besides creating an interesting visual motif, the ‘t’ runway enabled the models to walk right up to each point, showcasing the designs front on to audience while also allowing more models on the catwalk at any time (a major plus in a lengthy show).

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The set-up/

The show began with the Zambesi Design Project; that is the second year fashion student’s industry assignment. These were good, so good in fact I think they actually distracted the audience from the Rookie show and in many cases the garments outshone the later collections. Or maybe it was the Zambesi aesthetic that stole the limelight. Either way it was true to the brand’s spirit and flowed like a cohesive collection despite being the work of numerous students.

A quirky, awkward but lightly entertaining video introduced us to the students before their final collections took to the runway. The Rookie show was long, as expected, but the killer soundtrack was enough to snap anyone back into focus (the soundtrack was in fact one of my favourite things about the whole show!). The collections were hit and miss, in my opinion. Some of the designers’ work stood out – whether that be for the fabrics, the shapes, the textures or the overall style – but there were very few I believe could step straight into the New Zealand industry and make waves. Mind you this kind of thing is all about concept and I’m sure there was a lot more going on in theory than meets the naive eye. Wearability and therefore sellability, in this case, doesn’t necessary equate to grades.

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My favourite collection was actually Caroline Stephen’s, the only textile student to showcase her work, but her brilliant use of fabrics and textures stood out with its clever subtleties and stark white colour. I would have loved to have seen these pieces up close – that shiny white jacket was really quite amazing.

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Caroline Stephen

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Finale – Caroline Stephen (white).

Jarrad Godman who closed the show presented another sleek range consisting of solely black but with with some shinier leather-look touches. I also loved Claudia Billinge’s two tone blue and white jacket and white pant look, while Christelle Valeriano sheer silk organza collection with its soft, neutral palette lent itself well to the light up runway. Sue Park’s evening wear was also quite beautiful; I loved her cream and beige two-tone gown.

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Jarrad Godman

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Claudia Billinge

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Christelle Valeriano

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Sue Park

I must admit I did love a lot of the menswear but it wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you could imagine seeing on our conservative streets. Perhaps these designers should set their sights on bigger things, like Paris or London, where a more adventurous, avant-garde aesthetic is a little more commercially viable.

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Special mention should also go to the Graduate Showroom collections on display too, and to Victoria Cooper-Smith for her design of that space. It was beautiful! Those hanging “racks” – oh so good.

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Congratulations to the graduands of 2014. The best part starts now… Good luck!

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