Home' Greymouth Star : August 12th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
West Coast Arts
8 - Tuesday, August 12, 2014
bbie Winter won
the supreme award
recently at the popular
she entered the
with her dress made mainly from recycled
To this, she added a third prize in the
Homebuilders Earthworks Creation
Competition at Westport.
Earlier in the year, she was the guest
“emerging artist ” at Art in the Park and
she has earned honours at the Hokonui
Fashion Awards in Gore, Southland.
“I was born and grew up in Greymouth,
attending Karoro School and then
Greymouth High. When I left school, I
was accepted to study at Christchurch’s
CPIT Fashion School.
“My nana was a bit of a dressmaker but
mum and dad are not really arty.
“For the first, certificate-level year, 30
students were accepted and then in year
two and three, diploma years, there were
16 participants allowed in to the course.
“ We studied pattern making,
construction, history, textiles, drawing and
a bit of business. At the end of my third
year, I was named second highest achiever
in the class by just a little bit from the girl
who was first.”
Winter said that third year students had
to present two clothing collections, one
at mid-year and another at the end of the
“For the first one, you had a work
placement at the start of the year and
they gave you a design brief which the
first show was based on. Then the second
show could be your own ideas. You had
to organise everything about the shows,
organise the models, the hair and make-
up, garments, music etc.
“ While I was preparing for my second
show, the Christchurch earthquake
struck and we were out of the school
environment and lost 10 days of our
preparation time. I was up all hours,
getting about four hours sleep a night.”
After graduating with a Diploma in
fashion design and technology, Winter
gained two merit awards, and a highly
commended for menswear, for garments
from her final year collections, when she
entered them in the Hokonui Fashion
Awards in Gore.
She then spent two and a half
years living in Nelson, where
she worked for the Nelson
Mail newspaper by day, and did
clothing alterations by night,
before spending several months at
a summer camp in Pennsylvania,
United States, teaching art and crafts.
“I have recently moved back home to
Paroa and I’m working part-time at the
VTNZ in Greymouth while starting up
my own fashion business, making ready-
to-wear clothing, custom clothing and
doing alterations,” she said.
“I have made ball dresses for local young
women, one of whom was queen of the
ball, and I am making a “princess” dress
for a lady who runs children’s parties.
That dress is purple with classic lines and
flowing pretty fabric.”
She bought herself a straight sewing
machine and then her very supportive
father purchased two more industrial level
machines for her, from Trade Me.
“I managed to get them going,” Winter
said. “And he has happily let me take over
a room of his house as a studio.
“I hardly ever go into the lounge here,
except maybe to eat. When I’m not asleep
or at work at VTNZ, I’m in the studio. I
find it very therapeutic.”
Some of her time is also taken up by
study for a business course from Open
This year, she was invited to take part
in Art in the Park and while there found
out about the Hokitika Junk2Funk awards
and then the Westport show. She has also
had an emerging artist exhibition at the
Left Bank Art Gallery, alongside the
Fun-demented-ly Fibre show and she
took part in Project Funway in Nelson
where garments had to be made from
Much of the work she is getting now is
alterations and she enjoys seeing people
who had not worn some garments they
had in their wardrobes for years, now
enjoying them again.
Winter’s personal philosophy is to do
the best job she possibly can.
“I like to design and make good quality
and wearable clothes rather than the
catwalk kind of thing. But I did really
enjoy making the more ‘way-out ’ gown for
Junk2Funk. That was really fun.
“My aim though is to make things
people are going to wear, but which are
a bit different, so they are distinctive. I
like to experiment when I can, as I did
with Junk2Funk and I really enjoy dyeing
“Usually though, just now I am making
things that other people want, exactly as
they want them made, or else making the
kind of clothes I like to wear myself, but
with detail you only see when you look
Winter’s creative process starts with
thinking what the end result will look like,
then drawing it out and planning how to
do the pattern, and how to construct each
part of the garment.
“I make lots of notes, get measurements
and listen carefully to what the client
says,” she said.
“I like making each garment. If you do
everything well, have a good pattern and
so on, you will get a good result in the
end. When people are happy with it in the
end, that ’s the pride and satisfaction I get.”
She said her family had been very
“Aimee is my model and mum and dad
both helped when I was studying. I used
to go to Global Fabrics (which closed
because of the Christchurch earthquakes)
and I would spend my student loan money
buying fabrics and have none left for food.
Then dad bought me the machines and
mum comes to shows and helps.
“I love fabric. We used to go to that shop
and just run our hands over the fabrics
we liked and admired. I have a little pile
building in the studio cupboard. Materials
on line are very tempting too.
“I ’d like to go overseas again, maybe
to summer camps, or maybe get work
experience in the fashion trade. I ’d like to
go to Europe as well.
“My favourite is making dresses and
gowns. I ordered a book recently on corset
making. They are very fitted and I want to
learn and practise that.
“Even when I’m doing alterations I learn
from it. When you unpick stitching you
can see how other people have done it.
There are lots of ways to get a particular
result. I ’ve been altering a wedding dress
and it has been good to see inside that,
with the bones and so on.
fashion exhibit and I’d love to see the
costumes in places like the Victoria and
Albert Museum in L ondon.”
When fledgling clothing designer Abbie Winter learned to sew at Greymouth
High School, she “just loved it”, and knew this was what she wanted to do. Here she
talks to JO KEPPEL about her journey with fashion design so far and her dreams
for the future.
PICTURE: Jo Keppel
Keen young Greymouth fashion designer Abbie Winter is found in her studio whenever she is not at her “day job” or sleeping.
Aimee Winter models the dress which won the
supreme award at the Hokitika Junk2Funk
competition and third place in the Homebuilders
Earthworks Creation Competition at Westport
recently. Abbie designed and made the dress from
75% recycled materials, including pages from
A group photograph from Abbie Winter’s graduate collection presented as part of her final studies at CPIT’s Fashion
School in Christchurch.
For this dress modelled by Aimee, Abbie painted UV sensitive
dye on to the fabric.
Abbie made and dyed this shirt with UV sensitive dye for her
Art in the Park collection earlier this year. The shirt is modelled
by her sister Aimee.
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