AAFW: Wynn Hamlyn and The Collage of Airport Style

The New Zealand designer pays tribute to the power of contrasting colours, looks and holiday destinations.

Article by Jordan Turner

Wynn HamlynNew Zealand designer Wynn Crawshaw of Wynn Hamlyn in his Auckland atelier. Photography by Nicole Brannen.

When the time comes to start the creative process of a new collection, Wynn Crawshaw of Wynn Hamlyn likes his studio to be completely clean. It is his key to opening any kind of innovative door. “To be able to start, it takes a meditative clarity in your head. And I can’t have that if I have any kind of mess in the studio, and it’s almost psychotic. When that time comes around, my team know that, and they’re like, ‘Oh, we better clean up'”, says Crawshaw.

The New Zealand designer brings his eponymous label to Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) for the very first time in 2022. “Over the last few years, Australia has become a second home with the brand in the sense that there’s a lot of stores that have bought into the brand and a lot of awareness now. We just felt like it was a great time to come over here and have a party,” says Crawshaw.

T Australia caught up with Crawshaw in Sydney and in his studio in Auckland to chat about his design processes and the vision for his Resort ‘23 collection. Crawshaw knocks back a cold-pressed green juice during the interview before he gets ready for model castings.

Wynn Hamlyn
Photography by Nicole Brannen.
Wynn Hamlyn
Photography by Nicole Brannen.

One could compare the clamour of comings and goings surrounding fashion week to that of an airport; the new collection is inspired by and is called Departure Lounge. “It’s about when you get to the departure lounge, and you see all these different looks that are collages of what people have been doing and where they’ve come from and where they’re going.

“It’s about the looks that you see where people are wearing their holiday shirt, with their business shoes that they couldn’t fit in their carry on. Or people wearing the puffer jacket, even though it’s 30 degrees because they’re on their way to Nepal,” says Crawshaw, pointing out print elements from the new collection hanging on portable racks nearby.

There are two pieces still being made overseas that will tie the story together. It is here that Crawshaw mentions he will be visiting a departure lounge himself to fly to Bali four days before the runway show. Nothing says Fashion Week like last-minute changes.

Crawshaw uses a highly-skilled group in Bali to hand-make the brand’s signature macrame pieces. In this collection, there is an extra element of beading involved. “The beads were made in India, which ran overtime and only arrived in Bali about ten days ago, with quite a small hole through the middle of the bead. It’s a lot even just to thread the cord through the bead once, and I want to give them time to finish. I’m going to fly back with the pieces from Bali on Sunday,” says Crawshaw.

Wynn Hamlyn
Photography by Nicole Brannen.

The brand’s AAFW runway took place in a long, underground tunnel below Sydney’s Central Station late at night. Visually, it’s a tribute to the power of contrasting colours, looks, and possible destinations. Much like everything Wynn Hamlyn does, it is different, and the buzz amongst buyers, editors and the fashion industry alike cements this as one of the shows of the week.

Amongst the tailoring, denim, and macrame, there is a particular piece that is sentimental to Crawshaw, a silhouette inspired by his right hand at work, Tandi. “She got married a year ago and it was an amazing day. Lots of emotions, her dad had passed away, and many things were involved with her wedding. We did her dress. And we’ve got a piece in this show that’s essentially her wedding dress,” says Crawshaw.

Nostalgia exists in the fabric of the Resort ’23 collection. The Hawaiian print shirts and bubble pleated popcorn tops play to the pieces we’d buy at overseas markets to create the quintessential resort look. Now it is shared through the colourful, contrasted and unique lens that is Wynn Hamlyn.