Susan Colton standing alongside her design “Susie Q”. PHOTO/CRAIG RAY
By Chelsea Boyle
Former Wairarapa College pupil Susan Colton will be jetting off to NZ Fashion Week for the first time in late August to showcase her design “Susie Q”.
The bold peach jumpsuit and matching jacket will grace the runway alongside 15 other designs that were selected to open three shows.
The 20-year-old has always had a flair for design, evident in all her schooling choices.
“I chose to take textiles and design as a subject in year 9 and just kept going,” Colton said.
“By the time I got to year 13 I had a taste of the industry through competing in national competitions and organizing our own fashion show.
“I just love the whole process, from visualising a garment in my mind, to creating it, and then sharing that with other people… seeing their reactions is just incredible.”
After high school, she dove into study at the New Zealand Institute of Fashion Technology, and is now in the third and final year of her diploma.
The annual Colour of Fashion project helps jump starts the career of many young designers with the tantalising opportunity for selected work to appear in NZ Fashion week.
Colton wanted to make sure the design she came up with for the competition was true to who she aspires to be as a designer, creating clothes that make people “feel special and strong”.
The name Susie Q, the colour of the material, inspired Colton to give the design a “life-like persona”.
“We were also given a story to pull inspiration, from that I took the idea of memories the ones we chose to keep and the ones we forget,” she said.
“Combining that, Suzie Q wears her memories embossed into her coat, her heart is left open with the plunging neckline and all the lacing is holding her together.”
The first thing she did was experiment with yards of beautiful silk.
“I love manipulating textiles so the first thing I did was start testing ways to make the silk more interesting,” she said.
“The silk goes into a press as a flat piece of fabric, it was always a surprise to pull it out and see it appear as a 3D textile – I never really knew 100 per cent what would come out.
“In the end, the whole outfit turned out better than I could have ever imagined.”
The biggest challenge in creating the outfit was making sure the look came together on time.
“…although it looks like a fairly simple silhouette, I like to add a lot of detail so it was a very labour intensive project,” she said.
It took seven hours to hammer all the eyelets in, she said.
Colton is currently in India, on a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia, where bold colours and prints are challenging her previously monochromatic style.
“I think I’ll be coming home with a lot more colour,” she said.
While she admits her style is developing, there are past and present haute couture designs of Christian Dior, Oscar De La Renta and Elie Saab that remain “favourites”.