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Paper Dresses Gallery - 2013 Finalists

Finalist 1: Both Worlds by Vili Tonu of NZ Fashion Tech

Both Worlds Both Worlds  Both Worlds 

The Judges Winning Choice

Vili Tonu designed and made 'Both Worlds'. A softly-orbiting skirt contrasts with a more tailored, architectural bodice. The skirt's thirteen circling layers are drawn from Vili's memories of Tapa cloth design and they also hint at the way early colonial cloth dolls were contoured by layering soft fabric circles together.

The pleated detail of the bodice is a salute to the kauri canopy of the Auckland Art Gallery which is Vili's favourite place. He says it is "a warm, natural example of New Zealand's built heritage - and in particular its meaning to Maori."

More on Vili Tonu:

Born and raised in South Auckland, Vili Tonu (25) brings the duality of his proud Tongan heritage and his New Zealand life, together in elegant harmony with his Kleenex® Cottonelle® Paper Dress.

"Some young people in South Auckland where I live identify with pop-American culture. When I left high school I became aware of the distance that had come between me and my Tongan heritage. Through design I am paying respect and embracing it more," Vili says.

Globally, Vili Tonu's favourite dress is the sleek white Tom Ford gown Gwyneth Paltrow wore at the 2012 Oscars.

Finalist 2: Camellia Dress by Kat McLeod of NZ Fashion Tech

Camellia Dress Camellia Dress Camellia Dress

Kat McLeod designed and made 'Camellia Dress'. A garden of paper flowers made from Kleenex® Cottonelle® toilet paper covers the bodice and falls to a "playful, happy" skirt with strong linear shape.

"Camellia is a beautiful word, and I liked the circular shape of the flower," Kat says. "I wanted the flowers to be scattered and falling down towards the hem to bring the softness."

More on Kat McLeod:

Kat McLeod (24) lives and grew up in St Johns in Auckland. She says flowers and the femininity of fashion are at the heart of her top-three Kleenex® Cottonelle® Paper Dress.

A fan of contemporary young fashion with classic quality, Kat has been creating works of floral art for Aucklanders full-time since she was 19.  She had always wanted to have a career in fashion but "never found the right course."

Now studying at NZ Fashion Tech, she likes the technical, practical, industry focus. "Sewing with toilet paper was a challenge but we had enough technical knowledge to overcome the obstacles," says Kat. 

Asked to name an international label she likes, Kat McLeod says she is a fan of emerging Australian label Romance was Born.

Finalist 3: Contradictions by Maria French of NZ Fashion Tech

Contradictions Contradictions Contradictions

Maria French designed and made 'Contradictions,' She made the bodice, which is laced at the back, with papier maché using the criss-cross of the ripples on the surface of Kleenex® Cottonelle® toilet paper to depict the bark of a tree. And the lavish tutu-like skirt spreads out from the strongly-anchored bodice like leafy, light-filtered branches, softly scattered with mosses, lichen and wild flowers.

"This is so exciting. In our course at NZ Fashion Tech we either pass or fail, so I saw this as one of the ways we could distinguish ourselves. I worked really hard. This challenge really asked us to put ourselves out there," says Maria.

More on Maria French

Maria French (21) spent her childhood in Thames and then Auckland, but now sees Wellington as absolutely positively her home-city. In the design of her top-three Kleenex® Cottonelle® Paper Dress, Maria looked for inspiration in Kimberly-Clark and their manufacture.

"Care for the environment is something that I think is really important. I am especially impressed when big companies follow sustainable principles as it amplifies the environmental good.

The Forest Stewardship Council is known for its rigorous criteria and I found FSC labels on the packaging so my research made me confident that Kleenex® Cottonelle® toilet paper is made with responsible forest management."

Internationally, Maria French admires the work of English fashion legend, the late Alexander McQueen.