“A fashionista’s dream.”

That’s how iD Emerging Design Awards founder and Otago Polytechnic academic leader of Fashion Design Dr Margo Barton describes “Fashion FWD >> Disruption through Design”.

The exhibition and celebration of innovative fashion, accessory and textile designs opens at Otago Museum on Saturday 27 March.

Gathered from iD Emerging Designer finalists from the last 16 years and featuring pieces from around the world, the pieces are grouped in seven themes: Escapism; Sculptural; Illusion; Gender; Transformation; Wellbeing; and Reinterpretation. All are displayed along with selected items from Otago Museum’s collection, which spans centuries.

The exhibition, which is the keystone within a programme of pop-up fashion events, workshops and talks, is also Dr Barton’s latest curatorial research project, which expands the definition of what “fashion” is, and highlights fashion designing as an area of creativity that we can all relate to.

“After all, we all wear clothes.”

Dr Barton and fellow curators Dr Jane Malthus and Moira White planned to have the 2020 Contemporary Fashion Practices Symposium sit alongside the exhibition. Due to Covid-19, the symposium was taken online (https://www.contemporaryfashionpractices.com).

“The exhibition and accompanying 220-page catalogue, along with the talks and other events, are all a part of my research practice,“ explains Dr Barton, Head of Fashion at Otago Polytechnic.

“Specifically, this research is my curatorial practice. I’ve been working on the research project since pitching it to the Otago Museum team in 2018, and love collaborating with my fellow curators Dr Jane Malthus and Moira White, and with the entire Otago Museum team.

“I thought the 2019 anniversaries of 20th and 15th for iD Dunedin and the iD International Emerging Designer Awards, respectively, would be a good opportunity to reflect on the long history of iD Fashion Week.

“However, we couldn’t get a big exhibition ready for 2019, and instead had a pop-up exhibition at the museum annex – at the Dunedin Airport, almost a test ground for the concept.

“Then our date for opening was originally set as May 4th (be with you) 2020 but, of course, COVID 19 got in the way, so we decided to pause.

“Actually, the extra time has been a real bonus. It has been incredible to work with the Otago Museum team – it’s a research experience I would love to repeat!” Dr Barton says.

“The exhibitions I curated previously were less complex than this one in terms of contacting the international designers and accessing the objects to exhibit.

“The beauty of working with a large team at Otago Museum has been an experience I would love to repeat, especially in terms of the logistics. This includes working with Otago Museum to track and contact previous Emerging Designer Award winners, then organise delivery of their pieces. Craig Scott and I have become excellent digital sleuths!”

Alongside the Fashion FWD exhibition is a sumptuous 220-page catalogue featuring beautiful photography, profiles of the 24 emerging designers discussing how their work expresses one of the themes of the exhibition, plus interviews with the “Godmothers” of Dunedin Fashion – Margarita Robertson (NOM*d), Tanya Carlson (Carlson), Donna Tulloch (Mild Red), Sara Munro (Company of Strangers), Charmaine Reveley – as well as essays about the museum objects by co-curators Moira White, Dr Jane Malthus and about the emerging designers by Dr Barton.

Dr Barton says fashion is typically researched from three, interlinked, perspectives: research-led design practice; the phenomenology of the wearer; and the emerging fashion designer.

“My research questions fashion as both object and system of knowledge,” she explains.

“My practice has enabled those outside the traditional fashion system to be empowered – in particular, the fashion wearer and the emerging and independent designer.”



Published on 24 Mar 2021

Orderdate: 24 Mar 2021
Expiry: 24 Mar 2023