Kate Sylvester presents Love Letters at NZFW

A year ago, Kate Sylvester discovered a box containing hundreds upon hundreds of love letters her parents wrote to each other during their courtship in the 1950s. The letters are beautiful, strong and true. This collection is Kate’s tribute to their love. 

‘Love Letters,’ Kate Sylvester’s Autumn Winter 2020 collection, captures the spirit and ceremony of her parents’ romance, while Kate’s mother spent a lot of time on her parents’ farm and her father was stationed in training camps as part of New Zealand’s Territorial Army. Tailoring is therefore decidedly military with oversized utility pockets and highlights of sharp leather outerwear. An oversized camel trench coat is paired with oversized wool trousers and matching beret. Coin pouches are slung over shoulders and added en-masse to leather belts.

With her father’s every departure, her mother would give him one of her hankies to bring home upon his return. Kate has decorated each look in the collection with this romantic keepsake, tucked into pockets, sleeves, and waistbands. 

Kate takes cues from the garments her mother wore, with tailored 1950s silhouettes complete with twin set knits, fitted jackets, and waisted dresses. A snakeskin print is tied up at the neck with a soft pussy bow. A charming lilac skirt suit is toughened up with a heavy pair of gumboots, a whimsical nod to the farm. Her mother’s favourite Mutabilis rose billows in printed silk skirts and is stitched into intarsia sweaters, a sheer blue silk is embroidered with fragile forget me nots, her mother’s favourite flower.

Lemon satin flutters, paired with pointy yellow pumps, and a slouchy grandpa knit is pinned closed with a tiny forget me not pin. A corsage of warm pink blossoms on silky separates and a floor grazing lace gown is fit for the aisle.

Woven throughout the collection are pieces from the Kate Sylvester archive to celebrate the launch of Kate Sylvester Reloved, an online marketplace where customers can buy and sell preloved Kate Sylvester. These vintage garments slip seamlessly in with her Winter 2020 collection, illustrating Kate’s commitment to timeless design and creating clothing to last a lifetime, not a season.

And of course we were delighted to see Kate close her show with two stunning wedding looks. A beautifully feminine textured lace gown and a chic tailored black suit.

From the Kate Sylvester Archive:
Conor coat, Frances, Winter 2019 | Tennis Jumper, Tartt, Winter 2015 | Bettina dress, Two Friends, Winter 2014 | Judith blazer, Diamond Dogs, Winter 2010 | Emeline skirt, Royally Screwed, Summer 2008 | Jasmin dress, Young Ideas, Summer 2006 | Teardrop knit one piece, Stop Your Sobbing, Winter 2006

Photography: Michael Ng | Makeup: Kiekie Stanners for M.A.C Cosmetics | Hair: Sean Mahoney for Colleen using Evo & Cloud Nine | Live Music: Purple Pilgrims | Director: Wayne Conway | Event Coordinator: Sophie Donovan