In the lead up to Fashfest 2016 I interviewed Dunedin based designer Melanie Child, and as I tend to do, I turned the discussion towards whether there was any chance of Melanie introducing menswear to her existing range of sublime denim recreations.
At the time Mel said that she didn’t have any in the 2016 show, but that menswear was on the cards for the future.
It shouldn’t have surprised me then to seem menswear pieces on the runway this year in the Melanie Child collection, which opened an entirely New Zealand made show this year, sponsored by the New Zealand High Commission. But to be perfectly honest, despite basically begging to see Mel’s recycled denim creations turned towards menswear, I wasn’t really expecting it.
The entire collection blew me away. It is impossible not to appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into each piece, from an appliquéd t-shirt through to a denim motorcycle jacket. The precision and fineness that it takes to build some of these garments can’t be understated. From the first look to set foot on the runway for this year’s collection I could tell that the audience was in for a treat, and Mel did not disappoint.
Staying very true to the aesthetic and DNA of the Melanie Child label, this year we were presented with another collection of engaging pieces in a beautifully muted colour palette of black, white, deep maroon and of course, denim. Sculptural undertones which display the expertise of the designer remained a stunning feature of the collection, but not the dominant focus as with previous collections. Where in the past it felt we were being treated to artworks come to life, this year’s collection has matured to an exceptionally polished and refined collection.
The underpinning philosophies of the Melanie Child label are to reduce post-consumer textile waste into landfill and maintain a small environmental footprint by using sustainable virgin materials from ethical sources. Child creates beauty from the unwanted and wasted—timeless garments that transcend seasonal restraints. Limited edition and bespoke upcycled clothing which is thoughtfully and skilfully remade in New Zealand.
This can, however, lead to garments looking like they are handmade. Some consumer like this, others do not; and I am not ashamed to admit that I generally fall mostly into the latter category. However, one of the truly remarkable things about Fashfest is that it opens your eyes to a host of possibilities.
Mel’s collections have always been impeccably well made, but this year’s collection was something else all together. A cohesive vision of pieces that worked beautifully together, but would slip seamlessly into a consumer’s wardrobe and compliment the garments already there. The collection could have walked off the runway and into a high-end boutique, where it would have sold instantly and no one would be any the wiser that it was ethically sourced.
And to me that represents a triumph for Melanie Child, as a label and as a designer.
Melanie Child has won Canberra over with her incredibly beautiful and very wearable designs, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to see her designs on our runway for another year of Fashfest. In incredibly exciting news, off the back of Fashfest, Melanie has just been invited to show during one of the four major fashion weeks Oxford Fashion Studio participates in —Paris, London, Milan or New York. She’s thinking of the possibilities now.
You can get your hands on your own Melanie Child pieces by heading to the website, or by making an inquiry. Don’t forget to check out and follow the Instagram account and Facebook page for updates on upcoming shows and future collections.