“You are strong, beautiful, eccentric and nonchalant. YOU INSPIRE GENIUS”. Such were the exact words that appeared anchored around an image of Picasso’s Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon on a prominently placed piece of card backstage at Mercedes-Benz Presents Kate Sylvester. And such are the exact words which, were I to read them everyday before stepping out of the house, would make me feel absolutely unstoppable.
But of course, that’s the whole idea behind Kate Sylvester’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection ‘a Muse’—each garment being like the sartorial equivalent of this little pep talk.
Inspired by eleven famous artists’ muses (I counted four of Picasso’s alone), ‘a Muse’ celebrates the strength, style and beauty, as well as the complexity and eccentricity that these women had in spades. The resulting collection is a clash of colours and textures, with pieces that speak simultaneously to both sculpture and movement. Like a Picasso painting, the presentation of the collection was multi-faceted, rather than fragmented; every look a little off-centre, but never incomplete (props to stylist Paris Mitchell for a job well done here).
All of which adds up to a very important point: that there are a million ways to channel the muse, and not all of them need involve cropped coral flares with camel coats, or kimonos and hair chopsticks, or crochet.
The modern muse is apparently just as likely to wear grey slacks with a grey knit or suit jacket—a pair of mismatched, gold statement earrings (or perhaps above-the-elbow leather gloves) being all that’s required to bring that all-important nonchalance and eccentricity to the table.
Because according to Kate Sylvester’s show notes, the measure of a great muse is simply that she “inspires, challenges and infatuates the artist.”
So infatuating were the ‘muses’ at Mercedes-Benz Presents Kate Sylvester, in fact, that for the first time all day, there was a marked reluctance from people in the audience to watch the whole show through their screens (although certain looks had everyone booting up their camera apps—one full-length grey coat and floral maxi-dress ensemble, for example).
For the most part though, sacrificing the unmediated, unfiltered experience for the sake of a grainy Instagram snap was not an option. Kate Sylvester’s ‘muses’ were as intoxicating, commanding, and compelling as the muses they were designed to emulate. This kind of woman promises to come into your life, turn it upside down, and then leave without so much as a goodbye. And Kate Sylvester’s collection is saying that this woman could be you.
Put me down for one of everything.
Words: Phoebe Watt
Photos: Michael Ng/New Zealand Fashion Week