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The Fourth Element: Mild Red cooks up a new range

The Fourth Element: Mild Red cooks up a new range

Dunedin, New Zealand, August 8 (JY&A Media) Dunedin knitwear label Mild Red has cooked up a hot new recipe for her spring–summer 2003–4 range—The Fourth Element.

‘It is the fourth element but not as you know it,’ Mild Red designer Donna Tulloch says.

Injecting a bit of fun into her sophisticated collection of multi-functional tops, Tulloch's inspiration comes from her love of food and cooking, the fourth element being the fourth element on a stove top range. Garment names include Hot Plate, Filo Delight, Gas Mark 7, Tea Shirt, Functions Top, and Butler’s Tale.

Versatile and concise, the 12-piece range consists of deconstructed mixed-media tops combining fabric with wovens and super-fine 100 per cent cotton and cotton-blend yarns.

Each top has been cleverly designed to allow for it be worn several different ways.

Shapes and fabrics allow for pinning and tucking. The Wrap top has fabric sleeves and a knit rib body that can be manipulated to create up to six amazing shapes, while other tops such as the Hot Plate are reversible. Supplying 32 outlets in Australia as well as her New Zealand clientèle, Mild Red has also received interest in its range from Germany.

Mild Red was described by British Sunday Times fashion editor Colin McDowell as the ‘biggest surprise and delight’ of L'Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week 2002.

‘Sophisticated, confident and understated’ were words McDowell used to describe Mild Red’s style which he thought had an ‘indefinable quality that meant it could hold its own with other [leading] designers throughout the [world's fashion] capitals’.


(a) Mild Red Tea Shirt and 4th Element pants;

(b) Mild Red Filo Delight top

(c) Mild Red Element Pants and Wrap, worn upside-down and back-to-front.

About Donna Tulloch and Mild Red

As a teenager fresh to Dunedin from Gore, Donna Tulloch used to visit local garages collecting leftover chamois and muslin to make into ’70s fashion garments.

Tulloch cut and then sewed together the pieces of fabric on a treadle sewing machine before decorating each garment with hand-beading, painting and embroidery.

‘If I could get muslin for 20¢ a metre, then I could make them up for less than $1,’ Tulloch says.

As a wardrobe assistant at TVNZ, Tulloch met the woman who eventually led her into commercial fashion.

‘Working for Charmian Smith was a great learning experience. We worked together on programmes like the Beauty and the Beast and University Challenge,’ Tulloch says.

When Smith opened a boutique in Dunedin she encouraged Tulloch to put in some of her designs, which Tulloch marketed under the label Donna White (her maiden name).

Tulloch entered the Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards in 1988 (receiving a Highly Commended award), 1989 and 1990.

In 1995, after a stint in couture and bridal made to measure, Tulloch launched Mild Red as a knitwear collection.

The first 25 jumpers she put into a shop in Dunedin sold out the same day. Using merino and 100 per cent New Zealand wool, Tulloch also cleverly fuses woven fabric with knits.

Her designs have been praised for their intellectual feminine style and reflect a three-dimensional attitude to shape and form, trademarked by an asymmetric or sculptured appearance.

Features include three-dimensional uneven necklines, uneven hemlines, unusual tucks and darting and screen-printing.

Mild Red doubled the number of retailers stocking the label following her first showing at L’Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week 2001 and more than doubled it again at L’Oréal New Zealand Fashion Week 2002.

Her success has forced Tulloch to move out of her home studio due to lack of space and buy her own building in York Place, Dunedin, which she is currently converting into a working studio.

Mild Red is stocked by 16 retailers in New Zealand, 32 throughout Australia and has received interest in its range from Germany.

© Scoop Media

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