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Verge Designers – Fresh Names, Not Raw Talent

August 11th 2005

Verge Breakthrough Designers – Fresh Names, Not Raw Talent!

Six designers brought together for Air New Zealand Fashion Week 2005

They already have fashion skills but their fashion credentials are set to be reinforced through inclusion in the Verge Breakthrough Designers Group at Air New Zealand Fashion Week 2005.

The six emerging designers who will make up the Verge Breakthrough Group (previously known as Verge New Generation) were revealed at the Designer Launch for Air New Zealand Fashion Week in Auckland last night. (10th August, 2005).

The Verge Breakthrough show will feature six designers who will show on the same schedule as some of New Zealand’s top fashion icons such as Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker, and Kate Sylvester and the biggest line up of new names since the beginning of the event.

The labels hoping to make their mark in 2005 are: Widdess, Kim Decke, Michael Pattison, Lonely Hearts Club, Rayma and Queen B.

Apart from their selection for the Verge Breakthrough Designers Group the group share little in common. This eclectic bunch includes a former Cleo Bachelor of the Year, a designer who covets her power tools alongside her favourite lipstick, a funky Hollywood inspired knitwear label, and a passionate duo from the capital. There’s also a mother to four teenagers who lives and works in a discreet but stylishly converted warehouse in the inner city.

As one of the most anticipated highlights of each year’s collections, the show, sponsored by high profile womenswear label Verge, has also been the launching pad for successful labels such as Helen Talbot, Sidewalk, Nadine Freudlich, Pearl and underwear label, James&August.

Ian Webster, one of the selectors, and Managing Director of Verge says: ”The new name (Verge Breakthrough) is a reflection of a growing awareness by Air New Zealand Fashion Week of the layer of designers who operate between graduate level and established labels. The six designers chosen can confidently accept local and export orders which is what Air New Zealand Fashion Week is all about.”

This is the third year Verge has been involved both with sponsorship dollars and hours of their own time mentoring the group. Prior to the designer launch, they held a Verge Boot camp covering issues such as cash flow, exporting, media training and the finer points of putting together a catwalk show.
“All of the things you learn from experience that I wish someone had told me when I started “says Webster.

The Boot Camp not only included this year’s group but designers being groomed for next year. The Verge team still remain a sounding board for some of the 2003 debutantes!

The common thread for this diverse group is their enthusiasm for what promises to be a new and challenging experience.


Background on the 2005 Verge Breakthrough Designers

Widdess (Auckland)
Widdess captures romance, style and feminine essence, difficult to define but easily embraced.

Designer, Yvonna Van Hulzen, set up Widdess ten years ago and credits her fascination for fabric and clothing to her childhood, watching her mother do needlework and tapestry. Memories of her mother continue to provide inspiration, full of stories from her own European childhood. Yvonna’s mother would save up her pennies to buy a couture garment and then make sure she wore it as often as possible, even if that meant looking fabulously overdressed whilst doing household chores.

“It’s the craft of making clothes that I enjoy” says Van Hulzen, “the hand stitching of the buttons and personally finishing each garment. I am so fortunate to be able to do something that I love every day.”

Van Hulzen, along with partner Vincent Langford, a cat, dog and four teenage children call a converted Mt Eden warehouse home. This is also where Van Hulzen and Langford work. The ambience created within their home is full of ‘soul’ and reflects the positive interaction between fashion and art. Langford plays a strong role in the business and is also an accomplished artist who often finds his own paintings heavily influenced by the colours and styles being created around him for Widdess.

Widdess, has seen many other labels come and go during the ten years it has been on Auckland’s Ponsonby Rd and is proud to sell to retailers throughout New Zealand.

Kim Decke (Auckland)
Kim Decke will be most remembered by school friends in the Bay Of Plenty for her unusual attire on mufti days and her love of power tools. One of her favourite birthday presents was a drill press at age nine! Not much has changed. Her current hobbies include target shooting, fast cars, and motorbikes. But she also spends up to 14 hours a day creating gorgeous designer pieces for the label bearing her name.

A self described eccentric, she deliberately creates garments that redefine fashion logic, contradictory yet classic in their own right. She makes no excuses; you will either love it or hate it. “Think Gwen Steffani mugs Nicole Kidman” says an exuberant Decke when asked to describe her style. She can afford to be confident. At 17 she was chosen to work in the Zambesi workroom and only left to set up the Kim Decke label, now in it’s 12th year. The multi talented Decke also runs a retail store, Velvet, which sells samples and seconds for other top fashion labels as well as operating as a commercial cutting operation.

Queen B (Tauranga)
Fresh from Te Puke, Tenille Ryburn also started her fashion career (like many other top designers) at the Zambesi workroom in Auckland.

She then ventured to Hollywood where she worked as a costume assistant on The X- Files. She spent an exciting three years living in LA, and then Hawaii. She returned to NZ three years ago with Argentinean husband, Hernan, a chef. After a stint working with the costume designers on ‘The Last Samurai’ they started up Queen B 18 months ago. Tucked away down a Tauranga arcade, the Queen B shop is immediately recognisable by its bright pink awning and interior walls and the lime green floor and ornate chandelier. This gives an insight into Ryburn’s distinctive knitwear range which is anything but ‘nanna-ish’.

“I love working with different yarns. They give versatility and encourage creativity. I create my own fabrics and these can be adapted for year round designer pieces - not the traditional wool cardies most people imagine!” says Ryburn.

The Queen B label reflects the bright lights, vivid colors and fast pace of her Californian experience - with a just hint of Bling!
“I don’t think there is anything like my garments in the market,” says Ryburn.

Naturally enough, her favourite past-time is knitting and she has recently set up the first ‘stitch and bitch’ group in Tauranga. For the uninitiated, keen knitters get together on a regular basis and chat as they knit, sometimes over a wine or two!
Ryburn is passionate about recreating the culture around knitting. “Every stitch has a story and I am so thrilled that as a result of setting up this group some of my customers have taken up knitting for the first time.”

Lonely Hearts Club ( Wellington)
The design duo of Helene Morris and Aimee McFarlane.are behind this Wellington label that has already received passionate applause throughout New Zealand and Australia.

The label was spawned when the two friends, who met in design school in 1999, travelled Europe and North America plotting their futures. Upon returning to New Zealand, they applied for a WINZ start up grant and found themselves in business.

Originally focusing on streetwear the range has grown in sophistication over the past two years and their current offering is a combination of what they term ‘cute and tough’.

Their combined talents in graphic design and fashion are reflected in the slightly twisted graphic elements that have become synonymous with their clothing.

Those in the know will already be wearing Lonely Hearts Club as it is stocked in stores such as Ruby in Auckland, and other selected retailers in New Zealand and Australia.

Michael Pattison (Auckland)
A previous Cleo Bachelor of the Year, 23 year old Pattison is the baby of this year’s group and like Lonely Hearts Club, a WINZ grant helped kick start his business.

The recently established label bearing his name reflects the strong lines of his own determination to succeed.

His range incorporates both men’s and women’s garments that span stylish casual through to tailored formal wear. Pattison’s footprint is fine tailoring and innovative pattern manipulation. He frequently uses woven wools and merino knits to provide a point of difference on an otherwise casual silhouette.

No stranger to the limelight, Pattison has won numerous awards including the tertiary student award at the Wellington Fashion Festival in 2001 and the Stella Artois Man section of Modus Operandi in 2003.

Rayma (Auckland’s North Shore)
Detailing with a strong sense of purpose.
The Rayma label is less than two years old, but draws upon the designer’s fashion industry experience spanning 20 years.

Rayma Stirling started her working life as a patternmaker for Levis and then spent 18 years designing for local manufacturers before taking the plunge with her own label in 2003.
At 39, she was made redundant and seized upon the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream of creating her own label. “It was perfect timing for me.”

Stirling describes her garments as feminine with a sense of purpose. The emphasis is on the detailing, meticulously interspersed with the overall design to create a garment that makes its own statement.

Stirling does not pretend to please everyone. “My garments are for women who have lived, they don’t need to show their midriffs but they do want garments that flatter their shape and offer a confident, stylish statement”. “If I wouldn’t wear it, it doesn’t go in the range” says Stirling.

The Rayma range goes from casual chic to dressy. The common thread is the use of unconventional fabric colours and textures framed by the unique detailing which has become the footprint of this brand.

Rayma is stocked throughout New Zealand.

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