Time travels for top NZ designer

Some of the most gorgeous and creative fashion Ponsonby News saw at New Zealand Fashion Week several months ago, was made from a bunch of offcuts.

“It’s amazing to be able to add value and give new life to these fabrics - or to transform old pieces into something new. As designers, we waste so much fabric, even as we’re trying to conserve it. There is something incredibly satisfying about giving these old offcuts new life,” says Carlson.

Each of the 60 garments in the Carlson show was lovingly designed and handcrafted utilising Carlson’s extensive hoard of German velvets, French lace, silks and taffeta, collected from around the globe over her years in fashion.

With none of the limitations of a production run, Carlson was able to concentrate entirely on the creative process of designing the garments as one-off pieces. “This kind of creative freedom is usually something you only get at the beginning of your career. So this is like a gift to me - and my label,” she says.

The designer is no stranger to one-off, demi-couture garments though. Her creations have been worn by an array of Kiwi notables in music, television and sports - from Ladi6 to Samantha Hayes, Rachel Hunter to Olympian Lisa Carrington, as well as international celebrities - such as chef Nigella Lawson, actor Heather Graham, and supermodels Linda Evangelista and Gisele Bündchen.

At a more utilitarian end of the spectrum, Carlson’s latest way of reusing fabric offcuts is in her cloth bags. A stylish response to the recent announcement that supermarkets were going to phase out plastic shopping bags, the bags can be washed, reused and can double as a beach bag or extra work bag.

Carlson says, “There’s an old-fashioned view that looks down on reusing fabric because it suggests that the designer is not looking forward or that he or she is entering a ‘craft’ space rather than fashion design. But that’s definitely an outdated response. In my role as Head Judge of the iD International Emerging Designer Awards, it’s clear that the new designers coming through really care about consumption and waste and are looking for innovative ways to upcycle and reuse.”

CARLSON, 120 Ponsonby Road, T: 09 361 2137, www.tanyacarlson-shop.co.nz