Rory William Docherty's Romantic Debut @ NZFW

Tāmaki Makaurau

— September 2, 2023 —

We've had a busy week dashing around Tāmaki Makaurau to bring you a round-up of some of the best moments at New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria. While people outside the shows gave us a lesson in dressing down, baggy pants and puffer jackets; we're happy to report that Kiwis love a refined fashion moment too.

Case in point, Rory William Docherty's debut show on Tuesday morning. Inspired by "The ethereal beauty of flowers and the earthy experience of growing them" the dreamy collection is a feast for the eyes and a treasure trove of cute accessories and styling tweaks. Flick through the gallery above and take note, then scroll down to get to know the designer himself, a self-professed "hopeless romantic" who will quickly convince you to only buy clothes you'll wear forever.

What a stunning debut show, can you tell us about the experience of holding your first runway show?
My gosh, the lead-up was weeks and weeks of long days and hard work. A lot of preparation went in. The logistics of putting on a show compared to doing a shoot is quite something. Having to map out any duplicates that need to be made, the casting process, considering sizes, fittings, working with Darragh on the styling, and music selection, seating plans, it's all additional to creating a collection.... 
The show itself was over before I knew it; it was quite surreal, actually.  I think the planning before enabled it to be relatively calm and smooth backstage, which helped both with my nerves and to deliver what we had intended.  I still haven't managed to see a full video of it or all the official images... But the feedback has been lovely; I'm really appreciative of that. 

What is the impetus behind this collection?
A merging of opposites. The collection called 'Renew' blends the poetic with the practical—the ethereal beauty of flowers and the earthy experience of growing them. Facets of couture flourish amid utilitarian details: there’s a European style sensibility brought home.
The Gardeners jacket does double duty: capacious bellows pockets are large enough to hold handfuls, but when left empty, waist cinched, the silhouette is Paris circa 1947.
A voluminous hooded parka blends the idea of army surplus with sensations of luxury: executed in silk twill, it billows and sails beneath a dramatic collar.
Practicality is softened with relaxed elegance. See it in the chalk and pencil colour palette and the Wilting Meadow floral prints. Look closer at the Icelandic sheepskin tote bag suspended from silk rouleaux straps; the weighty silver jewellery with delicate surface engravings and organic forms based on refined floral sketches.
Throughout, functional details drive home the message of beautiful clothes made to be worn over and over. Pieces from past collections – a painter’s shirt, a pair of ‘Re-work’ Levis – are delivered in fresh fabrics and prints, because why discard the things that work? The clothes you love are keepers.

What was on your mood board when designing it?
My own sketches of wilting flowers from a stay at my brother's home in Bannockburn, from pencil-detailed drawings to large gestural paintings on brown paper. Images of early Egon Schiele portraits, with models in various states of dressed and undressed layering garments—a photograph of Morrissey with flowers. An array of fabric swatches and images of Perennial styles, we continue to ensure everything works back with those.

Could you also tell us a bit about your brand for anyone who may be seeing your work for the first time...
Rory William Docherty is a brand of seasonless pieces incorporating textiles based on my own original hand-drawn and painted artworks. I’m a hopeless romantic. I want to create something personal and new but still beautiful, unapologetically so, relatable but not of the moment, like a lingering dream.
Focused on the creative process, drawings evolve into paper maquettes, are enlarged and draped into fluid and sculptural forms, refining the conceptual into garments that feel reassuringly familiar yet aspirational. 
Each piece is imbued with a sensitivity, evoking an emotional connection. My first collection of one-off and made-to-order pieces was picked up exclusively in New Zealand by Scotties, stockists of Comme des Garcons, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, The Row, Lemaire and others. 

If your brand was a colour: Parchment, the colour of drawing paper, the inside of my workbooks. The promise of something new, anticipation...
If your brand was a place: Home- mine, yours, wherever we each retreat to find our peace.
If your brand was a song: Nick Cave's cover of 'Cosmic Dancer', the opening track to the show.

What’s to come for the future of Rory William Docherty?
This season, we began collaborating with Australian artist and jeweller Benjamin Gallagher; silver broaches, earrings and pendent necklaces; I'm looking forward to continuing this.   
Post fashion week, we are forging new meaningful relationships with retailers here and further afield, so Rory William Docherty pieces will be available to more people to see, feel, try on and, experience, and hopefully love. 


Photos & Feature: Chloe Hill


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