Foam and fantasy on the runway
It was a proud moment as 18-yearold Nina Kaiwai watched her creation on the runway over the weekend.
The Wainuiomata High School student has always been creative - she had her first easel by age one - and now her Mother Natureinspired costume has been shown off at New Zealand Fashion Week.
‘‘I never thought I would be able to get this far into fashion so early,’’ she said.
She started designing outfits in 2014, when she began cosplaying, creating outfits based on fictional characters.
The 18-year-old hated sewing when she first started and said textiles was ‘‘not her favourite topic at school’’. Instead of picking up needle and thread, she would often use EVA (Ethylenevinyl acetate) foam.
‘‘It’s like what yoga mats are made of,’’ she said.
The foam is moulded with heat and can be used to make anything, from armour to the braces in her New Zealand Fashion Week costume. By carving into the material she can recreate different textures and add a layer of reality to her costumes.
For her Fashion Week design, she also hand made every leaf on the outfit’s veil, taking her roughly 120 hours.
‘‘I went a bit crazyish,’’ she said.
Her design originally started out as a school project but her teacher, Jocelyn Reddy, saw entries for a young designer fashion show, Walk the Line, on a Home Economics Teacher forum. It is for designers aged between 13 and 18.
Kaiwai entered in the fantasy section of the show and while she didn’t win the runway event on September 2, Reddy said the costume looked ‘‘awesome’’.
Designer Zoe Beck took out the crown for her Minion-inspired male and female outfits.
Kaiwai’s design was worn on the runway by Maddison Angus from the Youthline Alternative Education in Auckland. Without her help, Kaiwai said she might not have been able to show her design, since she didn’t have a model for the Auckland show.
New Zealand Fashion Week is only the start for the aspiring costume designer. As a goodbye gift to her school, she’s been making a suit of armour for students to use as a mascot. She’s even had help with creating it from a couple of costume designers at Weta Workshop.
‘‘I have been sending photos back and forward and they’ve been mentoring me,’’ Kaiwai said.
Kaiwai’s Mother Nature-inspired costume took her a year to make and is worn here by her friend Janey Meiring.