The iconic WoolOn Fashion Event has burst back into life on New Zealand’s fashion calendar, having just completed three successful days of fashion, fun, learning, and of course, all things wool.
WoolOn 2021 attracted a skill level and put on a show that judge and creator of Touch Yarns Marnie Kelly commented was on par with any other high quality fashion event across New Zealand.
“We all felt the workmanship was really excellent, the creativity was out of this world and the designs were stunning,” she says.
Supreme Award winner Simone Montgomery from Port Chalmers says she never expected to win. Not a professional designer, it is simply a passion for her, she says.
‘Safety Dance’ pushes streetwear to an edgier, more modern place, past the traditional street look. Simone says her inspiration was contemporary Japanese designers who play with structure and non-structure.
“My concept was safety on the streets, that’s why I made it to convert to a sleeping bag.
“And the hat reflects a dystopian, totalitarian future.”
WoolOn judge and professor of fashion at Otago Polytechnic Dr Margo Barton says it was exciting the 2021 Supreme Award winner was a relative newcomer on the fashion scene.
“Seeing her success, and that of other first-time entrants might inspire someone else to have the confidence to enter themselves,” she says.
Supreme Award First Runner Up was Charlotte Hurley from Alexandra with her design made from old hospital blankets, ‘From Ward to Wine’.
Her stylish full length fitted evening gown and clutch also won the Re-purposed category.
Charlotte says her motivation was the sustainability of wool, and she was influenced by the Ice Queen from movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Supreme Award Second Runner Up was Laurel Judd of Napier with her design ‘Tokyo’.
Laurel won the Handcrafted, Accessories and Avant Garde categories, and she received the Technique award.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” she says. “I wish I had been able to be there.”
Laurel drew her inspiration for ‘Tokyo’ from contemporary high fashion daywear and city chic with Asian influences.
The jacket is a wrap-around design knitted in a fair isle pattern, with a belt that gives a nod to Asian styling.
Tokyo’s knit trousers with ankle cuff were revealed on the catwalk under a knit-woven skirt with zipped sides.
WoolOn 2021 saw an award given for the best entry from a school student from across all categories. The Schools Award winner was Maddie Wellbrock of Masterton, with her ensemble ‘Rewa Rewa’. Her striking coat was made of felted mohair, romney and corriedale wools, which she had dyed in a bathtub. Maddie then re-felted, adding brightly dyed mohair to the mix.
Completing the look, Maddie crocheted a top from hand-spun corriedale and romney wools and made matching wool trousers.
Judges commented Maddie had both a flair for colour and design, and a high level of technical skill.
The Mata-Au award for cultural interpretation was awarded to 7-year-old Alexandra Primary School student Sophia Hinsen with ‘Cold and Hot’, a cross-body bag she had needle felted herself. Sophia says her design inspiration came from a project at school where they had to think about opposites.
“I like that opposites are just different parts of the same thing and you need both for life,” she says.
“It’s true for people too, we’re not all the same but we all make up the world.”
The judges commented they were surprised when they saw such a young designer return to the catwalk to accept the award.
Professor of Fashion at Otago Polytechnic Dr Margo Barton says it was extremely hard to select a single winner in each category.
“In some sections it was a real problem for us, we saw such a high level across all entries,” she says.
The judges all encouraged designers to keep learning, keep trying, and keep entering.
Chair of the WoolOn governance committee Mrs Mary Hinsen says putting on the event had been a leap of faith, but the result had surpassed all expectations.
“It’s been a huge team effort,” she says.
“We couldn’t have done it without our hard-working committee, amazing community, designers, sponsors and everyone who helped make WoolOn 2021 such a success.”