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St Matt’s catwalk cut-through

The world of fashion can be brutal, and St Matthew’s Collegiate students are learning all about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Blood, sweat, and tears may have been shed in their labour of love, but the rewards for their hard work will be coming to fruition during New Zealand Fashion Week [NZFW], which kicks off today.

Under the guidance of St Matthew’s head of technology and fashion, Ruth Bucknell, a group of students entered their garments in this year’s Hokonui Fashion Design Awards.

After scooping up several awards, some of the students’ winning designs will be featured at NZFW.

The Hokonui Design Awards is the longest-running fashion award show of its type in New Zealand and this year marks its 35th anniversary.

An opportunity for amateur fashion designers to showcase their designs in front of industry leaders, previous judging panels have included designers such as Karen Walker, Francis Hooper, Trelise Cooper, and Kate Sylvester.

This year’s judges included Huffer’s Steve Dunstan, Deadly Ponies founder and creative director Liam Bowden, and Vicki Taylor of Taylor Boutique.

Opportunities to participate in events like Hokonui Fashion Design Awards don’t come around often so the girls all felt it was crucial to put their best foot forward – and that, they did.

Seven girls went home with awards from the school section, their sweep of wins beating out other schools from around the country.

They didn’t stop there though.

The Huffer Young Designer Award was snatched up by St Matthew’s student Kersha Napier, who won through against dozens of entries, including university students and young adults.

Even the girls who didn’t take home a prize have come out as winners.

Entry and winner of Collective design School Streetwear Award by Caitlin Ryan. PHOTOS/STILL VISION PHOTOGRAPHY

“I think we’ve become closer as a class through the experience,” Frankie Shaw said.

Designing pieces for the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards can often be an intensive endeavour.

The girls spent several months creating their pieces from start to finish.

Bucknell noted there was a lot more work involved than you’d think.

“There’s a huge portfolio that goes with it because they’ve got to look at fabrics, get stakeholder feedback on them, look at designs, come up with a few designs, and then we have class critique sessions,” she said.

And that’s only part of the process.

Some of the girls have already started working on their pieces for next year.

St Matthew’s Principal Kiri Gill said that being showcased at the NZFW is no small feat.

“I am incredibly proud of their efforts”, she said.

The experience of attending the fashion design awards has offered the girls pathways into the fashion industry as well as a tangible experience they can add to their CVs.

For her part, aspiring young fashion designer Caitlin Ryan, said she “really enjoyed seeing what the uni students had put out, to see what was the potential and what was coming in”.

The girls were given the opportunity to show their designs to other students at a school assembly last week, where they shared their collective message for anyone considering entering the competition: “Just go for it”.

The winning garments will be part of the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards show on Saturday, September 2, which coincides with New Zealand Fashion Week 2023.

St Matthew’s
Fashion Awards:

Spark School
Natural Fibres Award:

  • Runner Up – Risha Smuts-Kennedy.

​Collective Design School Streetwear Award:

  • Winner – Caitlin Ryan
  • Runner Up – Kersha Napier

​Macca Lodge
School Upcycled Award:

  • Winner – Alice McGuinness
  • Runner Up – Sophia Hallett

​Regional Ford
School Glamour Award:

  • Winner – Samantha Plimmer
  • Runner Up – Isabelle Judd

School Merit Awards:

  • Kersha Napier [Glamour]

Bernina School
Award of Excellence:

  • Winner – Alice McGuinness

Huffer Young
Designer Award:

  • Winner – Kersha Napier [Streetwear – School Section]

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