Monday, April 27, 2009
Kiwi (by way of the UK) model Red with Kate Sylvester
I had the opportunity to head on down to Kiwi HQ - aka the Medina on Crown - this afternoon for a sneak preview of Kate Sylvester's menswear collection. When I arrived Red was in the final stages of his fitting, and I managed to snap a few quick shots of him in an outfit. I didn't see the range in its entirety, but from what I saw, it's a city slicker's take on outdoorsy staples; walk shorts in fine linen teamed with custom painted Docs as hiking boots. The Kate Sylvester team, which includes Kate (designer), Karen Inderbitzen Waller (stylist) and Avril Planqeel (truth teller), had hidden away the girls' looks and I didn't dare peek, so I can't reveal anything about the clothes at this stage. I can however exclusively reveal that breakout star model Myf Shepherd has been confirmed and will feature in the show, but won't open or close. Kate Sylvester's show is the third and final of the New Zealanders in Sydney (Annah Stretton - also styled by Karen IW - shows tomorrow and Zambesi on Tuesday). Sylvester told me that I've been seated front row for the show, but she gave me the challenge of turning up with no ticket and trying to blag my way in. I said I'd do it and bring a friend. I'll report on my success or failure.
Over crackers and cheese and glasses of tonic water I had a little chat with Sylvester about what we can expect on Wednesday.
What have you done with the menswear this season?
The whole thing with the boys is they're always the boyfriend of the girls' collection - the Kate Sylvester collection - so it actually springboards off the womenswear. It's called Take a Hike, there's lots of quilting details - it's only the third or fourth collection in, but it very much evolves out of the collection before each time as well, so we take the elements out of Kate Sylvester that work for boys - So there are quilting details, it's basically an ironic take on hiking and explorers, it's modern, urban safari. The theme for each collection is so different each time, Royally Screwed with the naughtys royals, Black Swan with the romantic couple who are madly in love, and this time they're all out on a hiking adventure conquering mountains.
What sort of models did you want for the show?
Boys I fancy really, it's terrible (laughs)! I totally see it as the boyfriend collection so they've gotta be, they've gotta look like the Kate Sylvester girl's boyfriend. That's how I cast.
I see that you've only used New Zealand male models in the show (Redmond - Red11, Bruce - August, Vinnie P - 62), what's wrong with the Australian boys?
Don't get me started (laughs)!
Karen Inderbitzen Waller: Kiwi boys are just cooler and prettier! The boys here seem to like pink too much and wear spray on jeans.
KS: And they all have bad haircuts. Baaaad haircuts. With a boy you can't do anything with them, basically they're what you see is what you get. With a girl you can do stuff, you can transform them. The guys have to be six foot two, and the Australians are all shorter.
Wayne (Kate Sylvester's husband) is about six foot two right?
He's six foot two! Vinnie Woolston is the only shorter one I can cope with and he's six foot one. I'm very particular.
And in terms of other models in the show, you have one exciting model in particular walking for you?
Myf Shepherd, yes. We used her in Royally Screwed and she was fantastic, she was a total unknown, didn't have any pictures or anything but we just liked her. So she's back on board, we assume because she liked us last year.
So who is the Kate Sylvester girl then?
Generally, or for this one?
Does it change everytime?
Well it does because we're so concept. Every time we create a character. For the boys and the girls [in this collection] they had to look like they could climb a mountain, that they could go out and eat scroggin. We called it plain beauty, they had to be naturally beautiful. Things like freckles were good, long hair was good, peroxide was very bad, we had one girl we were looking at and we thought 'she's no good, she'd be trying to plug her hair dryer in at the tramping hut'. It's the same with the boys, they have to look like they could climb a mountain or kill a lion.
You're four seasons in with the men's collection, is it the same design process when you're doing the men's and the women's?
Well no because it comes off the back of the women's. It follows on from it. It is quite a different process actually. I'm still learning. God, four collections is nothing. I'm still trying to work out how it all works but it is quite different because it's gotta be much more subtle. That's the main thing, much more subtle. It's a real fine balance between it's gotta be designer product but it's gotta stay masculine and it's gotta stay accessible.
Custom painted Docs - spray painted with vehicle primer by a panel beater
What is your favourite menswear piece to design?
Jackets. I love jackets.
And the hardest?
Actually the shirts. You can't do a lot, you have to do something, but it's always really price driven with menswear. The jackets were the hardest thing to get the shapes right, but I think they're really great cuts. And I think our trousers are fantastic, I'm really happy with those trousers.
Do you find that when you're designing the menswear you have to pull back a lot? With womenswear you can do all those details but with menswear if you do those details it can look quite camp or over the top.
Yeah, and finding that balance is the trick.
Do you think at the moment with what's happening economically, there are enough men in New Zealand who are able to buy these sorts of clothes and who are willing to spend that sort of money?
I don't know yet. It takes time to build a brand. It really really takes time. So I don't know. But I love doing it, so we'll keep rolling with it. It's fun. It's definitely indulgent.
Finally, how are you going to follow up on last year's controversy? Got any little fire crackers hidden away?
No (laughs). Not at all hopefully. It'd be nice to just do a good show, that's all that matters. That would be good.