This year the iD International Emerging Designers Awards has two Whitecliffe graduates among its finalists. Leonard Hill with his 2022 graduate collection Laughing Gas and Vorakvong Chylong with the 2021 collection 21st-Century Metropolis.
Only graduates are eligible for this highly regarded international award. According to iD there were 128 entries, with 14 nations represented among the finalists. Collections will be shown at the iD Dunedin Fashion Show, a trade show that is not open to the public.
Leonard’s collection closed the 2022 Whitecliffe Fashion show and was his final collection on completion of the Bachelor of Sustainable Fashion Design.
Laughing Gass by Leonard Hill @_leonardhill_
Photographer: Matt Hurley, Models: Hannah Nott, Hair: Harry Verwoerd and Jessica Mae Ravlic, Makeup: Amy Hart
Laughing Gas asks questions about fashion’s relationship to technology, the current global climate crisis, the body, and new materiality. By blurring the lines between the body and machine, it suggests new relationships between form and functionality, suggestive of modern anxieties surrounding technology’s simultaneous responsibility for the climate crisis and its possibilities to provide new solutions. Concerned with notions of hybridity, Leonard Hill seeks to delve further into the types of relationships the body has with modification, to create discussions about the implications of machinic augmentation.
Leonard was able to offer some words on what the opportunity means to him and where to from here.
“I was really stoked to find out that the collection was accepted by ID. Of course I was beyond happy when I found out, and as times progressed I’m feeling more disconnected to it all. There’s logistics to sort out, getting the collection down to Dunedin, things like this I’m now thinking about. To meet the other finalists will be really interesting to me. The work that’s been chosen is very good and I look forward to meeting other designers and discussing with them their ideas and intentions. I’m deeply interested in getting to the bottom of what other designers and artists are about.”
Since completing his studies Leonard spent the summer as a workroom assistant for New Zealand brand Kate Sylvester, and has now begun an online tailoring course with fifth-generation Savile Row tailor, Rory Duffy.
"So far, I’ve been working in the industry full time and trying to navigate how to continue a much slower creative life around that. I think this is most graduates first challenge when they leave the time and resource abundance of university. I’m currently considering the path of bespoke tailoring. Tailoring has no ceiling for knowledge, it won’t be replaced by machines (I think), and is fundamentally a sustainable and slow fashion craft. For these reasons I’m interested.“
“Laughing Gas was the product of a chaotic year for me, and it will always be a bookmark for a period in my life, as well as a perspective of the world at that point. It’s been a really wonderful process in learning how to effectively design a collection, how to create narrative structure within a runway sequence, and how to marry technical learning with outrageous unconventional processes. It also was the result of deepening relationships with my tutors, and a growth spurt in my technical skill set. Liz (my second mum, and fashion tutor at Whitecliffe) was integral to the entire process and final outcome of the work. From fittings to finishings, she had all the knowledge. This was profoundly influential on me to witness such a high level of expertise and craft, as well as her continual warmth and support.”
"Simply put, fashion was the natural progression for me after a life-long interest in painting and drawing. I had many reasons for wanting to transition to fashion at that time, but more importantly than my choice to choose fashion is my reason for staying. I still find fashion to be limited in so many ways, particularly compared to other creative counterparts. I find myself less and less interested in the world of fashion, and often frustrated at its ability to express ideas, feelings and actual perspectives. This, however, is exactly what keeps me interested. When I apply a critical artistic lens to works of fashion, the means by which ideas are communicated can be truly novel, perplexing and often times challenging. However, it is this somewhat confusing status of fashion as art that keeps me invested.”
Thank you to Leonard and good luck for the event.
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