Right now, I’m sitting in the media room and I feel slightly sick. I’ve eaten too many of those Starburst fruity sour lollies at once (40 of them as the packet indicates), sourced from my NZFW goodie bag. In my defence, it’s 3pm and I haven’t had lunch. So whilst I wait for 40 starbursts to digest, I’m dreaming of the Sal’s pizza joint around the corner.
I’m considering popping over when I have a spare minute.
Optimism is key — and yet, I think it’ll get me nowhere so far as Fashion Week is concerned. Spare moments are, by nature of their rarity, absolute luxuries around here. I’m writing this on Day Two and already, I find myself utilising the moment the lights dim, not to change my camera settings; instead, to simply take a breathe.
It all started yesterday at 6pm. We made our way to NZFW’s annual location — or, well, it’s location until 2019 (when the America’s Cup intends on stealing our crown at Viaduct Events Centre). My brother (see Tony at twodarkcoffees.com) and I arrived in late fashion — mostly because it’s the only way to make any appearance during Fashion Week.
If I seemed as delighted to see familiar faces as I was to be greeted with a glass of champagne, it’s because this was totally the case. The only thing missing for Tony and I was a duck-free duck liver parfait. Unfortunately, Fashion Week doesn’t cater too well to Vegans. We’d have to wait until later to whip up a home-made pizza (and Tony: 2 minute mie goreng followed by a mound of satay rice?) at 11pm. The week would be off to a great start.
NZFW was opened for 2018 by one of my favourite New Zealand designers to have ever waltzed the runway at Fashion Week. I use the term ‘waltz’ with nothing but purpose; after all, a girl in Knuefermann can do only that. She glides across the room with desire and appeal; each step lifted by a power that not even the strongest will could ignore.
It’s a wonder in this day and age that we women still find ourselves victim of our own innate, sex appeal. Just 50-odd years ago, we were submitted to covering every sight of it. We were all heavily dedicated to the church, thanks to the mass of ankle-length skirts and high-cut blouses on offer (lucky us..).
Now, in 2018, you’d think we’d have come a far way. And we have — at least, in the sense that it’s far more common to wear a low-cut top. Unfortunately, the continued judgement that speaks back at female dress (and its associated decision-making) has operated at a far slower progression rate.
Nowadays, we are not as much encouraged to celebrate our sexuality — not the way we wear it nor the way we feel it — as much as we are targeted at the very moment we do. How liberal are we really if females are still consistently the victim of our own constitution, and more, the way it functions?
‘The ill-drawn line between what is acceptably sexual and over-sexualised is one we continue to re-draw for each other everyday. We’re quick to judge an “attention-seeking” ass-showing female on Instagram with a screwed-up face that screams a perception of obscenity.
It seems only fair to question: if we use our sex the following eve to attract a man, are we just as bad? Or does the dark of the night segregate our actions from the daylight of cheeky bottoms?
I have been close to concluding that no one has any idea. Whether something is sexy or slutty appears a moment-by-moment decision that we make. The same when deciphering to support or to shame one another. I ask again: what really is the line between too much skin — better yet, too much sex appeal, whether that’s in the spirit of your actions or your clothes — and just enough?
I didn’t realise I was looking for my own answer until the opening night of NZFW, when Knuefermann presented their 2018 Spring collection. The answer was just what I’d hoped it’d be — and naturally, so much more.
Knuefermann returned with elements that first pulled me toward her work, as well as new reasons to become besotted. It’s safe to say that in 2018, the slightly unbuttoned, silky shirt — the one that delicately falls over and shapes our collarbones — is still undeniably sexy.
But what you really want to know.. is the answer, right? The line that Turet Knuefermann drew to distinguish slutty and sophisticated use of sex.
I’ll try my best to articulate it.
The truth is that she who wore Knuefermann never did demand you look. She didn’t look solemnly into a bouquet of roses — as I do know — and wish that it were you who gifted them. She did, however, look away from the roses and into the eyes of every man in the room. Only for a moment, of course, before she’d glance away, dispassionate.
If you found her sexy, it wasn’t her issue — unless, of course, she was interested too. In that case, she’d flaunt her bare lower back; the curve complemented by a delicate black lace.
If you did hold your stare, she wouldn’t tie the waist of her shimmering jumpsuit any tighter — for she was not interested in accentuating her figure. She intended to have you imagine it instead. Each man in the room would be forced to take from the quarter-moon of her shoulder or the V-opening of her chest.
She gazes with a seductive dominance; a glare that informs you she doesn’t need you. She shan’t give away — not even for a second — that she wants you. Her black trench coat says more than enough, asking a fixated eye to name what’s underneath. The glitzy trousers that fall to her ankle assure a wandering mind.. that it’s something good.
A girl in Knuefermann could not overwear black if she tried. She knows its power and in her every step, she utilises it. She shocks with a bold red lip; a silver cropped jacket that could have fallen from nowhere else but the stars. Watch yourself — she’ll probably convince you she’s done the same.
Knuefermann, to say that you’ve done it again would be an understatement. You’ve answered questions we didn’t realise we were still asking. You’ve allowed women to re-claim their sex; even, to walk it down a god-damn runway with a sophistication I still cannot put my finger on.
What a way to start Fashion Week: with a reminder to all women that fashion is powerful, not in its ability to alert the male gaze — but rather, to free the female from the overtly critical one.
Outfit imagery captured by Two Dark Coffees, edited by McKenzie Collins. [NZFW shots captured by McKenzie Collins].