australia fashion week: zambesi

(images via vogue)

so i was looking through the images of new zealand label zambesi‘s s/s 2014 show at sydney’s australia fashion week, and quite honestly, i’m not sure what prompted me to want to include the house on this site. we’ve never discussed their work before, and, quite honestly, i usually try to stick to that which we already know, or something that moves me in some specific direction. but this…kind of just fills me with…staring. but maybe that’s kind of a good thing to shake the site up, and we’ll learn something more as we read what the critics have to say, yes?

and so, in a pre-show interview with marie claire, brand co-founder/designer elisabeth findlay explained that “(e)xploring ideas from a personal perspective inspired me to keep the collection clean and simple,” while adding, of the collection’s textiles, “(f)abric and texture always play a leading role when creating the collection, and we have developed a new printed check design that features an interesting mix of materials and colours in both the men’s and women’s collections.”

meanwhile (and rather surprisingly, given that they usually stick to the stuff all the cool kids already know about–er, what do i mean!? of course they’re innovators), style decided to drop in for the moment to comment that “designers Elisabeth Findlay and Dayne Johnston have an affection for the eccentric and borderline frumpy that the local Sydney designers do not share at all…The womenswear, from Findlay, had a bit more range, with crispy and rather clinical white looks ebbing into more challenging pieces, such as long narrow dresses covered with fringe tassels. For both sexes, the sharpest looks were the ones in a tartan organza; very on-trend, that.”

the designers “took us on an emotive journey from moody Victorian mourning dresses to joyously tasseled gowns that shimmied and sashayed down the runway,” cheeped fab sugar. “Plaid-printed organza added a traditional element to sheer shirting, and the boy-meets-girl divide was blurred a number of times via boxy unisex suiting and one very playful pair of short mens’ overalls. As much as there was darkness, there was light; cowl-necked shirting-style sheaths counteracting inky spray-on denim and pretty paisley prints offering whimsical relief from drapey black taffeta dresses,” while of course bella sugar was there to tack on the details of all the show’s beauty (or maybe non-beauty, as the case may be) looks.

then elsewhere,  the new zealand herald was there to helpfully give some background in stating that “(e)ach Zambesi collection is a continuation of those past, but this was the most elegant it has been for some time. Opening with six all-white outfits, the show notes talked about the collection’s minimalism and pragmatic clean lines – the simplest white sheer shell dress worn over a black lace shift and white nylon boiler suit embodied that concept – but there were other ideas running through the range too. Like lightness, with sheer taffeta and silk chiffon, swingy silhouettes and great oversized blazers, and the faintest 1990s feel: a green plaid print…and INXS blasting from the speakers.”

finally, though, it’s always good to turn to the australian site the vine to have the last word on the subject: “What other designer…could get away with putting models in clunky, patent white, nurse-height heels with thick grey socks? Or create womenswear with no more shape too it than a hospital robe? It all comes down to a very rare design ability to thwart the status quo, to turn things on their head in a very knowing way. But it’s not simply the trends of the season that Zambesi is playing with here – though the clinical silhouettes, paper-textured fabrics and peek-a-boo sheer fabrics and cut-outs certainly play into that – it’s also their own history. Read into it what you will – the isolation of New Zealand, the darkness of the country’s creative vision, the illusive weather – Zambesi has a history unlike any other label, and where other labels reference the Alexander Wangs and Proenza Schoulers of the world, Zambesi references Zambesi.” hmm…i quite like that. so. maybe now i get it…

(see the catwalk finale video here)

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