The Long Gallery

Inside the Museum Hotel at 110 Wakefield Street, Wellington, the art collection, excellent lighting, and wall finishings are nothing short of enveloping. The theme of the hotel is obviously art, and this has been given additional emphasis by the construction of the Long Gallery. This is like a glazed conservatory, built onto an outside wall, and facing the parking area with all its traffic of arrival and departure. It is a bold piece of architectural placement, something you’d hardly expect in a car park, yet within this enclosure is room for the creative display of art and artifacts.

The Long Gallery’s first exhibition is a collection of creations from past World of Wearable Art shows. In many respects, this collection is a tribute to the effort put in by the WOW exhibitors. It appreciates that the entries don’t necessarily get lost to view after the show has finished. The photo shows the extravagant ‘Montana Duck’ of 1997 by Auckland designer Susan Holmes. This is a work of swooping, feathery panels done in painted silk stretched over thin wooden canes; all connected to huge shoulder constructions made from recycled cane baskets. It is engineering, and costume, and heart-warmingly improbable.

Looking in from outside

    With over 350 outlets worldwide, the Karen Walker empire produces clothes, jewellery and eyewear with a sureness of touch and purring invention. One of its many design spirits is the mixing of luxury and non-luxury materials in a manner that can be curious and invites the fingers to test what the eye is seeing.
    This dress, spotlit and impressive in the window like an old sailing-ship figurehead, is called Ruffle Bib. The material is linen hessian – a non-luxury material which might make many think of wallpaper scrim, but here it is fine weave and supple to the touch. It also carries the faint, honest smell of linen prior to treatment which normally obliterates any odour. The linen’s modelling into large ruffles suits the spirit of the fabric perfectly. And, bordering these ruffles like exacting lines of ink, are ribbons of rich black cotton.
    Karen Walker is at 126 Wakefield Street, Wellington.


    As one of the lead-ups to the World of Wearable Art show, a number of shops throughout the city have created or  borrowed fantastic garments to exhibit in their windows. Behind the idea is a ‘mini competition’ with prizes and advertising opportunity, but for the passer-by, it’s like a rather welcome entrapment.
    This intense, swirling fabrication done in flax linen and dyed sea-grass is part of designer Andrea Clinton’s “Octavia Chiton” entry in the 2001 avant garde section of the show. The inspiration for the work came from the convoluted details of the chiton sea creature — sometimes called the ‘coat-of-mail shell’.
    Octavia Chiton is resident, for a while, at the boutique Identity at 41 Willis Street, Wellington.

A Breeze Blows Through It

    The label WORLD describes itself as a factory of ideas and within their Summer 10/11 collection is this work of breezy, dream-coloured design. The dress is called ‘17 Again, Batwing’. It is, above all, a work of delicious fabric which, when worn, can flow and twirl without the restraints of intricate stitching.
    The fabric has a background and a foreground. The background is a black gauze with tiny flecks of silver shot through it. Laid onto this is the foreground of motifs like tree roots, tresses of hair and huge blooms done in brilliant colours. It is a proud, confident dress; like a rich stage-set you can carry around with you. It features at WORLD, 84 Victoria Street, Wellington.

Ziera: An Exercise in Rebranding

    Some fifty years ago, a shoe shop opened in Hamilton called Mervyn Adams. It was established to promote and sell shoes that were based on the architecture of orthotics. It soon came to have a nationwide presence, then was rebranded as Kumfs. Under this label it established overseas branches.
    Within the past few months, Kumfs has been rebranded as Ziera Shoes. Underpinning the rebranding is the continuing attention to orthotic comfort, but overlaid onto this are crisp, fresh styles, colour matching and thoughtful detailing. The rebranding has also included shop makeovers to present the stock in a light, uncluttered atmosphere. One motif in this rebranding is the use of a peaceful green colour running through the interior decoration. Other motifs include the butterfly and the stylised orchid bloom.
    The photo shows a corner of the Wellington shop at 83 Willis Street where a comment board is part of the ‘welcoming initiative’. The board is a gesture of politeness firmly announcing rebranding doesn’t have to mean alienating an existing clientele. One of the comments – Mmmm Zesty – seems to sum the project up nicely.

Blue, reversible

    KILT, the Hawkes Bay design house, revels in producing a wide range of garments and releasing them quietly onto the market. They don’t work in seasonal ranges and as they have six outlets, there is opportunity to present their flavours and crafting to a wide audience.
    Shown here is their cameo jacket, produced in bold, tasty colours like red, black, and the royal blue of this one.
    The lining is a cotton tartan – the lines and threads of the design being mute and subtle, and not necessarily identifiable as belonging to any one particular clan. The outer material is a cotton drill, sturdy enough to allow the details of gathering to maintain a sculptural form. The jacket is reversible, so when the tartan is on the outside, the blue becomes a rich garnish around the edges. All in all, a bold and lovable garment available from Kilt at 100 Victoria Street, Wellington.

What the merino never saw coming

    Up in the high country of the South Island, thousands of merino sheep give up their fleeces for the making of fabrics and garments. The fleece is spun into yarns of different gauge, then woven into bolts, some of which will be dyed to present a range of colours.
    A portion of this material makes its way to Takaka-based design workshop Timeless Creations, and under the label Maurice, produces a range of merino knitwear as well as merino felt. Timeless Creations is the proud owner of an eighty-year old derelict German knitting machine, rescued and restored for years of further use. It is also fortunate in Takaka for having access to particularly pure water which is heated for the felt-making process.
    Timeless Creations is the supplier of coloured felt to Nelson-based designer TinaVJ who is the creator of this brilliant, bold coat. TinaVJ’s love of typography and 3D design is apparent in her masterful composition of colour patches and stripes, interlocking panels and the use of big textural motifs which has led her to experiment with her own methods of felt shaping. The robust stitching and playful elements give a sense of daring, yet handled authoritatively.
    The coats and tunics of TinaVJ are represented by Aquamerino at 97 Willis Street, Wellington. This shop also acts as a showcase for Timeless Creations, as well as the fine-strand merino garments of Aquamerino’s own design and production house.
    From the shearing shed to the swing-ticket is a great journey, if a journey we can hardly imagine the merino ever had in mind.

Shoe Craft

    The shoe design house Chaos and Harmony have released their Summer 2010/11 collection, full of sculpture and colouring. The collection goes under the name ‘Between you, me and the fencepost...’ and within this story line, like its own chapter, are three shoes titled ‘Fallen’.
    The shoe illustrated is called ‘Fallen-Blue Drop’ and is a work of superb peacock-feather motifs done in textured leather with sparkling blues and iridescence. It rests on a deep, cobalt-blue heel.
    The full collection numbers eighteen different designs, although it is just the ‘Fallen’ range which has the addition of cord running around the top; an almost country-like detail imposed on something very urban. It is this sort of juxtaposition and fun which makes Chaos and Harmony well worth following.
    Chaos and Harmony is stocked by Ultra Shoes at 55 Manners Mall, Wellington; a shop known for its adventurous stock and its willingness to supply finishing touches to many a photo shoot over the years.