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Couture by distance collaboration

28 January 2013

Couture by distance collaboration

Overcoming language barriers and bad skype connections, two CPIT fashion graduates preparing for a competition in Malaysia have found themselves taking a crash course in cultural relations.

On 11 March Phoebe Ratcliff-Reid and Melissa McIndoe will present mini collections of four ‘looks’ –each conceptualised, designed and constructed in tandem with a partner student in Kuala Lumpur. After arriving on 6 March they will have just three days to style their collections together and make any last minute changes.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) created the competition as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s New Zealand Week to showcase the quality of fashion and design courses in New Zealand to Malaysia. The theme is post-earthquake Christchurch ‘Virtual Re-Start Fashion Competition’. Ten graduates from fashion programmes across New Zealand, along with their Malaysian counterparts, will compete for the NZ$10,000 first prize.

Melissa and Phoebe are used to creating collections under pressure, having done so twice last year as part of their training. For Pitch, CPIT’s end of year fashion showcase, they each designed and sewed 10 ensembles of around 30 garments. These were not your average garments; collections included formal dresses and suits. The strong technical emphasis of CPIT’s Fashion Technology and Design programme ensured the girls had honed their construction skills.

This time, however, Melissa and Phoebe are not working alone – and their partners are 8671 km away.

“It’s been super eye-opening,” Melissa says. “I have never met my partner of course, so I am delegating tasks by skype and email. We don’t know a lot about them, what their strengths and weaknesses are.” Melissa had only spoken to her partner once and struggled with her counterpart’s limited English and accent, which was all the more challenging combined with a delayed skype connection.

Both girls are taking the challenge head on and not just because the judges will be looking at how teams worked together. Phoebe’s partner speaks excellent English and is easier to get hold of, but as a team the two still had to work out how to blend their different styles and ideas.

“It will be good because something new will emerge,” she said.

CPIT is supporting the graduates by making facilities available and paying for the freight of the garments. Flights, accommodation and $1000 towards the mini collection are provided as part of the competition. Melissa and Phoebe, meanwhile, are already planning a few days of scouring Kuala Lumpur’s markets for fabrics to bring home with them.

New Zealand Week brings together Malaysian and New Zealand businesses, universities, and government departments to nurture the two countries’ rich history of cooperation in education and science.


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