First sold-out show for fashion awards

High-profile names, new categories and record ticket sales are set to make this year’s Hokonui Fashion Design awards the biggest yet.

Committee chairwoman Bronnie Grant said it was the first year last night’s show had sold out.

“The Saturday night sold out in 13 minutes.”

That made 1300 people attending across both nights and they were in for an amazing two shows, she said.

The awards will be handed out tonight with plenty of excitement in the town.

This year’s judging panel featured some big names from the fashion world, including Huffer co-founder Steve Dunstan, Juliette Hogan, Rachel Easting and Anjali Burnett.

There were two new award categories this year, the Country Living Narrative Award and the Cardrona Distillery People’s Choice Award.

This year’s event had attracted 188 entries with 258 garments, she said.

“We’re really stoked — it’s been a fairly disruptive couple of years for people and we just weren’t sure whether we would get the entrants and the garments,” Ms Grant said.

“People have been really busy creating and sewing.

“The garments are amazing.”

From award-winning veterans to newer designers, this year’s awards have a varied pool of Eastern Southland talent.

Viv Tamblyn, of Gore, first took part in the event in 2003 and had entered every year since 2007.

She had won several awards during her time, most recently the Peroni Nightlife Award and the O’Connor Richmond Best Use of Wool award.

“The nightlife one was particularly special because I dedicated that to my father. He passed away at the start of the first lockdown. And the fact I like working with wool, it was nice to get the Best Use of Wool award.”

Being recognised among designers from around the country was a special feeling for her.

She was entering three garments this year in the natural fibre, glamour and daywear categories.

She loved “the challenge of coming up with an original idea.”

“When you spend hours and hours doing something and you finally get it finished, it’s that sense of achievement and seeing it come down the catwalk as well.”

Another Gore entrant is Amy Christie, who was a newcomer last year.

“It was such good fun and such a thrill to see something you’ve made on the catwalk, I thought I’d go for it again this year.”

Ms Christie was entering two garments this year in the upcycling category.

Other Eastern Southland entrants include Debbie Smith, Noeline Woodrow and Dorothy McIntosh.

The new Narrative Award has proven to be very popular. It was based on the stories which came with the creation of the garment.

Out of the 188 entrants, 95 of them had submitted a story for the narrative award.

Head of wardrobe Anna Balloch said the stories could be very personal, she said.

“There were some really, really sad ones last year … you look deeper into the garment and know that story. That’s what we felt, that a lot of people don’t get to appreciate that. They see a garment on the catwalk for 30 seconds but they have no idea all the emotion and all that thought and the process that went into that.”

By Michael Curreen

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