Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic student Georgia Ferguson is preparing to leave Dunedin for a nine-month study exchange in Vienna, where she will work on her Master of Design while learning from a world-renowned master of fashion.

Georgia is the first Otago Polytechnic student to be accepted into a new exchange relationship with the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

While there, she will study under Professor of Fashion Hussein Chalayan, named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential innovators of the 21st century and described by Vogue as the "premier intellectual designer of his generation".

“I could only dream of studying under a person of his calibre,” Georgia says, adding that the University of Applied Arts in Vienna names a new designer to lead its fashion programme every three years. Previous appointments include Karl Lagerfeld and Raf Simmons.

Georgia believes the opportunity to learn from Chalayan will add resonance to her Masters thesis, which will explore Dunedin’s creative and cultural drivers and, in particular, her own design practice within that sphere.

“In order to more deeply examine some of the influences on Dunedin’s creativity, I need to remove myself from here in order to get a different perspective.

“So I’m hoping the contrast of studying in Vienna under a famous fashion designer will provide further insights.

“I have travelled lots – I’ve lived in Vanuatu, Japan, England, Italy and Australia – but I really like Dunedin, so I want to understand what inspires me to be creative in such a place.”

Marc Doesburg, Director Global Engagement, says the relationship with the University of Applied Arts Vienna, is another example of Otago Polytechnic cultivating opportunities for students overseas.

“Such opportunities give learners insights into other cultures, helping them experience cultural diversity and develop cultural competence.”

Georgia, who has “always” been interested in fashion, enrolled in a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) at Otago Polytechnic when she left school. In her second year, she spent a semester studying at Milan’s Istituto Europeo di Design.

She graduated at the beginning of 2014, worked in Auckland and Sydney for a few years, then returned to Dunedin to embark on post-graduate Design studies.

“After my Milan experience, I knew I wanted to do more study at an international school so, with that in mind, I enrolled in Honours in Design in 2017,” Georgia explains.

For the past two years, Georgia has been working with a fashion start-up, Ultra-Merino. She sees a future in start-ups, “growing small businesses”. Being in a small yet vibrant city helps, too.

Georgia, who leaves for Vienna at the end of September, staged an exhibition of garments in a pop-up store in Dunedin’s Golden Centre Mall at the weekend.

The exhibition, titled “Micropublic”, examined the idea that people are drawn to others with similar tastes and beliefs, and was based around three patterns: a trench coat, trousers and a shirt.

“Each piece has been died a slightly different colour,” Georgia says.

“The aim was to make it feel like an exhibition rather than a fashion show.”

Read more about our Fashion programmes

Published on 17 Sep 2018

Orderdate: 17 Sep 2018
Expiry: 31 Mar 2019