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In a blaze of cre­ativ­ity and youth­ful flair, new la­bel Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn has fast-tracked onto the fash­ion scene.

VOGUE Australia - - Vogue Mood - By Al­ice Bir­rell.

Ifeel re­ally lucky,” de­signer Mag­gie He­witt of Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn says over the phone. It’s an ob­ser­va­tion she’s mak­ing not be­cause her la­bel was picked up in its first-ever sea­son by lux­ury re­tailer Net-A-Porter, or be­cause pieces sold out on the site in 48 hours, but for grow­ing up in a small town in far-north New Zealand. “To have had such a beau­ti­ful up­bring­ing in a beau­ti­ful coun­try … the en­vi­ron­ment and liv­ing by the ocean re­ally had an ef­fect on my cre­ativ­ity and my de­sign,” she says. “I hope it gives me a point of dif­fer­ence be­ing so far away from all the crazi­ness.”

With her la­bel now in only its sec­ond sea­son, her brand is in its nascent stages. Her point of dif­fer­ence is per­co­lat­ing and grow­ing out of Auck­land away from the fre­netic fash­ion cap­i­tals and where all of her pieces – wardrobe sta­ples with an un­mis­tak­able flour­ish, like flounced skirts and flared sleeves – are made.

Hav­ing a la­bel made en­tirely in New Zealand al­lows He­witt to have a trans­par­ent sup­ply chain and achieve her goal of pro­duc­ing ev­ery­thing eth­i­cally. It’s a pri­or­ity that took root in her up­bring­ing in Kerik­eri in the Bay of Is­lands, where ver­dant farm­land meets the Pa­cific Ocean. “I come from a ru­ral town and I was brought up on a farm,” says He­witt. “I learnt a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and an­i­mals.”

De­sign-wise, de­lib­er­ately raw fin­ishes like loose threads on skirt tiers, frayed denim and a predilec­tion for natural cot­tons and silks re­call the rel­a­tively un­spoilt natural world that en­cir­cles the re­gion she grew up in. Peas­ant blouses have a pas­toral hint, while white sheer sleeves call to mind cloud­streaked skies and sea mist that char­ac­terise New Zealand’s coast­line.

A la­bel that com­bined a love of art she fos­tered at fine arts col­lege and a re­spect for her roots made sense. “I love the chal­lenge of mak­ing beau­ti­ful gar­ments that are eth­i­cal, sus­tain­able and also ac­ces­si­ble,” she says. Although her fab­rics, ex­cept wool, are sourced over­seas, she knows ex­actly where ev­ery­thing is from and how it’s treated, from cot­ton grown with re­cy­cled wa­ter to eth­i­cal-silk. Keep­ing pro­duc­tion lo­cal means she can keep tabs on con­di­tions in the sup­ply chain. “[I like] the idea of mak­ing it in the street here in New Zealand and build­ing up the path for other women in the coun­try.”

Since univer­sity, art con­tin­ues to in­form her de­signs. For spring/ sum­mer ’16/’17 she drew in­spi­ra­tion from sculp­tor Dil­lon Marsh as well as Michelan­gelo and his prac­tice of leav­ing un­fin­ished, or non­finito, mar­ble sculp­tures that left an im­pres­sion of a fig­ure try­ing to lib­er­ate it­self from stone. “There are a lot of fab­rics be­ing cinched by ties, which gives the feel­ing of want­ing to break free,” she ex­plains.

With her ef­forts now fo­cused on re­plen­ish­ing her sold-out de­signs, in­clud­ing re­spond­ing to pleas for re­stocks on her In­sta­gram, it seems He­witt is go­ing to have to think big. Stylist Ada Kokosar was seen in her de­signs at Paris fash­ion week and wait­lists are grow­ing. It’s a dream tra­jec­tory. “That is all you can hope for,” says He­witt, “for peo­ple to fall in love with what you do.”

“I LOVE THE CHAL­LENGE OF MAK­ING BEAU­TI­FUL GAR­MENTS THAT ARE ETH­I­CAL”

Pieces from the sec­ond Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn col­lec­tion. New Zealand de­signer Mag­gie He­witt. MAG­GIE MAR­I­LYN TOP, $560, FROM WWW. NET-A-PORTER. COM. MAG­GIE MAR­I­LYN SKIRT, $1,315, FROM WWW. NET-APORTER. COM.

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