If there's one thing we know for certain, New Zealand designer Maggie Hewitt of Maggie Marilyn does not do conventional. Her latest collection, A Brave New World, which debuted as a film at the recent Afterpay Australian Fashion Week was no exception; remaining true to the Maggie Marilyn spirit we have come to cherish. A celebration of togetherness; bound by the symbolism in sharing a meal with family and friends. A Brave New World marks a forever collection for Maggie Marilyn; and with azure blues, buttery creams and gold gingham involved, it is clear to see why.
Following on from the collection release, we spoke with Hewitt about her latest collection, the value that lies in discussion and embracing sustainability.
Congratulations on yet another beautiful collection and incredible show at AAFW. You shared on your Instagram leading up to the show that this collection was birthed from a feeling of optimism and renewal. Can you please tell me a bit more about that?
Thank you so much. Yes absolutely, this collection is a direct reflection of the optimism I was feeling when I started designing back in January as I thought about what a new year could hold. I’d seen an image shared by Laura Jackson of a group of friends having an al fresco dinner party on a warm summer’s night; they were laughing, drinking wine, sharing food – it seemed to perfectly capture the excitement I was feeling, as well as the simple pleasure that comes from dressing up in beautiful clothes and sitting down for a meal with loved ones. That image became the seed for collection; there is an undeniable joy threaded throughout these designs. Azure blues, warm chocolate browns, buttery creams and a gold gingham that demands to be danced in.
Can you tell me about the location you chose for the film and how it connects to the collection?
We shot A Brave New World across 120 acres of sprawling countryside at The Range in Byron Bay – it was magic. The spirit of the models and muses that made up our cast were another extension of the joy of this collection. Our director, Duc Dinh Dong cleverly used the communal dining table as a symbol of community and optimism and infused it into every frame; from the significance of someone planting a tree into fresh soil; to running barefoot outside without worrying about your clothes getting dirty; to the joyous act of preparing food for a feast with loved ones. Shooting in the countryside in Byron Bay also allowed us to show our appreciation for land – whenua – and all that we use it for.
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You have always been a leader in the realm of uniting fashion and sustainability. How much more important is this ethos now as we move into a new decade and era in fashion?
At Maggie Marilyn, we still have so much growing and learning to do when it comes to truly being able to call ourselves a sustainable or regenerative business. But I do believe if we are going to sustain ourselves as an industry, we must rebuild to one that is transparent, inclusive, circular and regenerative.
The Talks series is such an integral opportunity to have meaningful discussions about the fashion industry and importantly, sustainability. What do you hope people take away from this?
I believe education is the most powerful tool we have… As a business, how can we expect our customers to make more informed choices, if we are not informing them ourselves? At MM, many come for the bright shades of cayenne or pistachio sculpted into form fitting blazers and ruffled skirts, but my hope is that they leave with something else too. A shared mission to be kind, be brave and to be the change they wish to see in the world. So I have a similar hope for this audience, that every person walks away feeling and knowing, they have the power to change the world.
Being surrounded by so many other talented creatives this week at AAFW, what are your hopes for the future of the industry?
I’ve found this week hugely inspiring, especially being surrounded by so many of my peers who share MM’s vision for using fashion to create a better world. I’ve seen this week just how eager everyone is to collaborate, and I hope we can carry this sense of togetherness into the fight against the environmental crisis.
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What is your advice for consumers who are wanting to shop more sustainably?
Start by asking questions. At MM, we’re the first to admit we haven’t got it all figured out yet, but what we do have is a willingness to learn and grow – and that starts with asking questions. Every consumer deserves to know what raw materials have gone into their clothes, where their clothes have been manufactured, and in what conditions. The reason the fashion industry has always been “smoke and mirrors” is because this is an intentional shield the industry use to protect themselves from criticism, but it’s time we pull back the curtain and bring our consumers into the production process – only then can they make conscious purchasing decisions.
What has been the most memorable moment of AAFW so far? What are you looking forward to throughout the rest of the week?
There has been such a sense of optimism in the air and a feeling of togetherness, which I feel so energised by. But most of all I am looking forward to celebrating with my team when I get back to New Zealand. I feel incredibly grateful to have the most amazing people that I get to work alongside at MM and whom have made our presentation this week possible.