Friend of Style Paws and guest blogger extraordinaire Alice Williams caught up with the two designers behind wunderkind New Zealand label twenty-seven names just after they had shown their latest collection at NZ Fashion Week. The label has garnered a cult-like following since its inception in 2006, and is known for the designers’ gorgeous use of textures, illustrative print and feminine, wearable designs. I for one am completely besotted with the label and just recently snapped up my first pieces – an adorable pair of silk shorts and a cameo cat brooch.
“I Thought You’d Never Ask” is Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart’s AW13 collection and stays true to the label’s signature styling. It’s a collection I would happily exchange my entire wardrobe for.
SEVEN QUESTIONS WITH TWENTY SEVEN NAMES – Words by Alice Williams
1. Why 27 Names? Why not just one?
The label is named after a list of people who helped us get of the ground in our earlier stages, as a homage to our friends and family.
2. How did you guys get started?
Out of our living room in Dunedin, hand printing sweaters and t-shirts….
3. Who came up with the Cat Cameo print – that thing went bananas!
We wanted to do a cat print for summer so Rachel who is a fine art student went to work and came up with the little cat drawing – and we just kinda went cat crazy with it. The response has been awesome, people do really love cats!
4. I love that you started your show at NZFW with Beyonce – do you guys pick the music? Is it music you associate with the collection?
We wanted to tell a story with all the songs we choose for the show – each related back to the inspiration for the range. The collection is entitled – ‘i thought you’d never ask’ so we thought that “Single Ladies” would be a prefect way to start the show. We also ended the show with The Carpenters “We’ve Only Just Began”, which was magical. We always choose our own music, for me it’s the most enjoyable part of organising a runway show.
5. The new batch is such an eclectic mix of prints, I love the Valentine dress – it reminds me of a Sari – do you have a favourite?
My favorite would have to be the “something borrowed” dress – I love the mixture of prints and the fine detailing, it makes for a unique piece.
6. What is the inspiration behind the new collection?
‘i thought you’d never ask’ — emerged from the first line of Jeffrey Eugenides’ story ‘The Marriage Plot’: “To start with, look at all the books”. Taking this advice, we returned to their sixth-form reading list and revisited the works of the great female novelists of the nineteenth century for inspiration: Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Brontë sisters. In the collection 19th-century detailing and hand-printed silk sit alongside bright multi-colours and polka dots.
Inspired by the portraiture of artists such as Gillian Wearing, Cindy Sherman and Rineke Dijkstra, we also created a short film to launch the collection — along with our signature campaign portraits and Rachel’s hand-drawn illustrations. ‘i thought you’d never ask’ plays with the idea that ‘The Marriage Plot’ still remains a central theme in our favourite stories, something the poet laureate of our hearts — Beyonce — might have something to say about.
7. I also loved your show partner at NZFW, Ingrid Stynes – what other NZ designers should we be keeping an eye on?
Juliette Hogan designs the most beautiful collections. Also, I’ll always be a staunch Nom*D fan…..