Learner's Collections '22 garments explore fashion obsessions

Otago Polytechnic learner Sidney North has travelled from the time of the Incas to more recent fashion obsessions to arrive at her latest collection, which will be on display as part of Student Showcase this week.

Sidney North Showcase News

The third-year Bachelor of Design (Fashion) learner has been putting the finishing touches to five garments, which will feature alongside others’ work on the catwalk at Collections '22, to be held at Otago Polytechnic’s Hub on Friday 18 November.

“The inspiration for this collection initially came from a gemstone known as the ‘Green Goddess of the Inca’, which was an emerald the size of an Ostrich egg kept in a temple in Colombia,” Sidney explains.

“My theme explores consumers’ obsession with shiny objects, false values placed on clothing and notions of preciousness – and how such notions can corrupt. As an easy example, think of how the Lord of the Rings character Gollum regarded the ring.”

To achieve this, Sidney created five garments with natural, feminine silhouettes. Choosing a base colour of tan and pink, “similar to my skin tone”, she hand-painted additional layers comprising five colours: red for ruby, white for pearl, green for emerald, purple for amethyst and orange for topaz.

But the last, and most important design feature, are beads. These sit on top of the mesh fabric, creating a stark contrast to the muted dye and transparent mesh.

“The beads are rich, dense, and reflective,” Sidney says. “The beading is a direct allusion to gems and jewellery, and are intended as the focal point of the garments.

“The glamour of the beads distract the viewer from the simplicity of the garments’ silhouettes.”

Yet, as Sidney discovered, beading takes a lot of time – and a lot of beads.

“It was definitely challenging. The time it took was intense.

“I’d initially planned to create big spots of beads but, realising how time-consuming that would be, I opted to do fewer of those and introduced veins of beads, which actually make the garments more coherent.

“And although I feel I have created better garments in the past, that wasn’t the goal. The most important outcome was to go outside of my comfort zone.”

The latter point touches on both Sidney’s present situation and, most likely, her future: she is unafraid to push herself.

It’s an ethos that has led her to a job with iconic Dunedin fashion label Nom*D. Currently working part-time as a “sales and dispatch coordinator”, Sidney will take on a fulltime role once she completes her studies this year.

“I have learnt so much in the past few months working with Margi Robertson and her team.

“I think there’s a misconception around fashion, that it’s only about designing. But the industry is really broad and involves a lot more than that.”

Collections '22 - The Hub, Otago Polytechnic 18 Nov (Doors open 7pm; show 8pm). Note: It is a ticketed event. Tickets available online

Find out more about Student Showcase