Kate Sylvester was a notable no-show this week in New Zealand. So frockwriter hiked across town to Sylvester's HQ for an exclusive preview of the designer's autumn/winter 2009 range. Inspired by black roses and black swans, there’s not a war medal in sight.
kate sylvester in her office
Sylvester told me that her point of departure was black flowers and notably, black roses.
One day, after spotting three black swans float past her home, which backs onto Waitemata Harbour, Sylvester added the graceful birds to her collection concept.
sylvester's PA monique saville in a kate sylvester tiara
Although Bjork was widely panned when she emerged on the 2001 Academy Awards red carpet in her now infamous Marjan Pejoski swan dress, Sylvester says that she has always loved the dress.
No, there’s no Bjork homage in this collection, just a white swan head graphic that is draped around the neckline of a T-shirt in the designer's signature grey marle – a fabric for which Sylvester confesses an “obsession”.
The spectacular evening piece in this range is a sculptured “rose bomb” cocktail dress in taffeta silk jacquard, in both a deep crushed berry colour and also signet grey (pictured above ^), which will retail for approximately NZ$1,500.
I loved the Mod-look cyclamen wool flannel car coat, the colourblocked pencil skirt, the iris silk jumpsuit – which Sylvester calls a dungaree – and the stirrup leggings with athletic stripes.
There’s also a balletic sub-plot, as seen in a sweet little black tutu with multicoloured tulle petticoats and a blush mohair waffle knit cardigan with exposed metal zips.
Sylvester is preparing to open a Sydney store – and says that in spite of the war medal fiasco at May’s Australian Fashion Week, she’ll be back on the Sydney runway in May 2009.
Of the medal brouhaha, she noted:
“I’ve got great uncles who died in the war, and on Anzac Day while I was styling outfits with medals on them, Wayne (Conway, her husband and business partner) was back in New Zealand, he took the boys to the Anzac dawn service. We acknolwedge Anzac Day and the importance of it. I have such huge admiration for the tradition of New Zealand and Australian soldiers and their courage and bravery. I was mortified to have caused offence”.
images: studio shots/kate sylvester; still-lifes and portraits/frockwriter