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Student Craft/Design Awards: Meet Runner-up Nicole Wesseling

Author: Emma Ng, Curatorial Intern
In my previous post Supreme Award winner, Hayden Maunsell gave us a glimpse into the making of his entry, Table Lamp – Dark. In part two of this three part series, first runner-up, Nicole Wesseling talks to us about her entry, Vincent.

All three of the major winners in the 2013 ECC Student Craft/Design Awards joined us for the awards ceremony at The Dowse on Friday evening, alongside many of the student designers who received Highly Commended awards for their entries.

Vincent is a small clothing collection which represents the wide range of entries in this year’s competition. The awards invite entries across the fields of furniture, product, jewellery, glasswork, textile, craft, spatial and digital media (video/animation).

Give us a brief description of your entry.

My Autumn/Winter collection Vincent consists of three womenswear outfits each accompanied by a child. The collection draws influence from traditional Dutch clothing, which links to my Dutch heritage. As a child I was exposed to various Dutch artists including Vincent van Gogh and Johannes Vermeer so it was only natural that I took inspiration from their work.

What and where are you studying? How far through your studies are you?

I’m currently in my third year studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Fashion Design at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design in Auckland. It’s a four-year degree so I’ve still got next year to go until I venture into the big wide world.

Your collection is titled Vincent and refers to his painting The Potato Eaters, but you also reference photographic and fashion influences. Tell us about the different strands you have drawn together in this work.

The concept behind Vincent is compiled of various strands of ideas; it’s hard to keep track but the connections have always made sense to me.

Alongside the major concepts within Dutch clothing and art, I explored the work of two separate street photographers; August Sander and Vivian Maier. Their photographs from the first half of the 20th century reveal the lifestyles of marginalised people, including children and the elderly. I was drawn to the textures and sombre mood in their work, which mirrors those in van Gogh and Vermeer’s paintings.

Also, the Japanese fashion designer; Yohji Yamamoto has always been a significant and inspirational designer for me. His approach to texture and silhouette is eye opening.

A number of pieces make up your entry – how long did you spend working on the collection?

The collection took a total of six months to complete from concept to catwalk. It was my first ever collection completed at Whitecliffe, I hope to expand and improve with further collections.

The collection is a mixture of adult garments & children’s wear. Why did you choose to design a combination of the two?

The choice to do so was influenced by a specific photograph of a young boy behind a glass door taken by Vivian Maier. The way he was dressed made me feel as though he was made to grow up too fast. I also wanted to draw attention to the fact that in the past, children were not differentiated from their parents as they are today.

What was the most challenging part of designing and making your entry?

The key challenge was definitely time. As a second year student it was a requirement to produce three outfits. My ambition to make three extra children’s wear pieces required endless late nights and definitely tested my abilities.

What do you hope to do when you finish studying? Have you got any future projects in mind?

I will complete my studies in 2014, what’s around the corner is always a surprise. I hope to gain exposure within the fashion industry and continue to develop as a designer. I believe experience is key. Travelling will definitely be in the mix, but where I end up is a mystery.

The three winning entries are on display at The Dowse until August 30.

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