The Winter 2011 collection from Robyn Mathieson, 97 Willis Street, is titled ‘Things you should know’. The title looks back to the 1960s and 1970s where such phrases as ‘Tomorrow is another day’, ‘Cheese gives you nightmares’, ‘Look before you leap’ and ‘It’s now or never’ peppered so much speech and attitude. These phrases were like maxims, like little survival tips, and Mathieson’s collection has used them as names for a remarkable breadth of garments.
In the photo, from the designer’s look book, the dress is called ‘Tomorrow is another day’. It is a polyester-chiffon, and frothily transparent. It requires a background in the form of a slip, and this means the wearer decides how brilliant or subdued they want the patterning to appear. The patterning is delicious. It, like the collection names, easily puts us in mind of 1960s and 1970s patterns one came across in ceramics, big murals for new buildings, and the decor of inter-island ferries.
Around the shoulders, almost like a bodice but actually a separate garment, is a vest made from felted wool, two layers thick to give it sturdiness, and subtly darted to give it form. Attached to the vest is a collar of possum skin. This is a work of statement. Not everyone will be comfortable with the use of skin, and there is a visceral element as the skin hasn’t been totally trimmed of all its anatomical features like whiskers and ragged edges. The jacket is called ‘I’m a pest vest’.
‘Things you should know’ is an excellent collection; a parade of separates and ensembles with the added wry humour of telling-offy names.