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. Monday, 29 October 2018 .

"Massey and I are the only straight guys in the competition."

I believe those were one of the first sentences designer Matt Costello from Stelloco Clothing ever uttered to me the first time we met way back in September at TVNZ for the Project Runway New Zealand launch party.

 I laughed. And then we took this photo:

I was immediately drawn to their lack of pretentiousness. I sometimes feel that fashion events can have a certain vibe, and it's especially intimidating to go to these events alone. There's something about 'fashion' that some people interpret as being unapproachable. Even I felt a bit intimidated at the start of the night as I walked in alone, not really knowing anyone. But these guys - along with the other designers - made me feel so welcome. Matt was the chattier of the two and I could tell Massey was taking it all in. It was their big night, after all, and all eyes were on them.

We talked about how they were feeling ahead of the launch, got to know a bit about them and what made them tick, and of course we exchanged instahandles because who even has business cards these days?

Needless to say I was very curious to see what these guys are made of. I was rooting for them to succeed. I still am! There's something so fresh about their perspective and I think that's important in fashion. I especially loved Matt's top in his last challenge on the show and thought that he stayed true to who he is as a designer while also going with the brief. Aren't briefs meant to be interpreted after all?

I (and the rest of my lovely gang who commentates live with me on Monday nights) cheered loudly when Massey won the second challenge. I was proud of the way he dust himself off from the previous week and emerged victorious.

See what these guys have is something unique and so needed in the NZ fashion landscape right now so I'm really excited to see what the future holds for them.

To the straight guys of Project Runway New Zealand, thank you for shaking things up! I've loved hearing what you had to say through your garments. Monday nights are not the same!


How are you feeling right now?

I feel very humbled and honoured to be a part of the first season of Project Runway New Zealand, however I feel that the decision to send me home was the wrong one. Personally, I like to think my edgy forward thinking designing could of really been refreshing as a final collection on the show. The brief for this challenge was to not make it look like wearable art and felt the other bottom look was exactly that. But hey, win or learn!

What was the highlight of being on the show for you?

Getting to push my skill sets in a very intense environment. It has helped me realise my place in the fashion world and once again if you put your mind and heart into something you can achieve – but working in the team challenge was actually a highlight for me, because it’s the one that has defeated me, I want to learn from it and grow as a designer!

What garment would you have loved to create in this season?

I had some really awesome concepts in my mind to shock the public for the red-carpet challenge , and to find out that’s the following challenge I was pretty guttered.

Where to next? What have you got coming up?

I am now taking on the 2IC roll at the new barkers store in Nelson , this is really exciting time for me but also I am going to be driving my fashion line “Stelloco Clothing” to the top.

Where can we follow your work?

If you loved what I do and can see my passion – come join the culture and positive movement:

Instagram : stellococlothing

Facebook : Stelloco


How are you feeling now?

I'm gutted that I'm leaving but so proud of what I was able to accomplish and learn in this time.

What inspires you?

Action! I love watching action movies – adrenaline sports; anything that gets the heart pumping and questions ones ability.

Dream collaboration/dream person to design for/dress?

I have always fantasised about designing for the likes of Balenciaga or Yamamoto; they are the pinnacle for me. Despite having a rather polarised aesthetics, I feel they tie really well into my design style.

Advice for those wanting to pursue a career as a fashion designer?

Live, love and learn.

Where can we follow you and keep up with what's next?

Follow me on my Instagram @discipleofdiscipline. I'm working on two different collections at the moment as well as doing film projects in Christchurch – we’re helping develop and promote Christchurch City.

Project Runway New Zealand airs every Monday, 7:30 pm on TVNZ 2. Watch it On Demand here. Images by Tom Hollow.

. Wednesday, 17 October 2018 .

"Do we really need another remake of A Star Is Born?" I pondered hours before the New Zealand premiere held last Wednesday evening, a week before the film finally premieres in our side of the world. This is the fourth retelling of this tale so I was incredibly curious as to what made this so special that it had to be retold every few years. The original version first came our in 1937, then in 1954 with Judy Garland, and again in 1976 with Barbra Streisand.

What was it about this film, then? Are we really that lazy to come up with 'original' storylines and are we doomed to spend our days watching remake after remake in film and TV? Yeah, maybe. But do 'original' ideas even exist? Or do we just go down the same creative paths over and over again, offering a new perspective each time our stories are told?

Not that I'm complaining. I'm a sucker for these plotlines! Give me a story with fallen stars and undiscovered artists any day. I don't know why I like this so much. Is it because I'm fascinated by this glamorous world as an aspiring actress myself? Is it because I really like seeing two attractive, heterosexual, caucasians fall in love on screen? Again, I don't know.

All I know is that even though we've been down the same road before, I still found myself getting giddy at the inevitable meet cute between Bradley Cooper's "Jackson Maine" and Lady Gaga's "Ally". Maybe this is what makes this movie so magical - the fact that everytime this story is told, while the foundations and themes are the same, the story always ends up different. I had not seen any of the original versions but after doing a bit of research, I found out that none of them followed the exact same plotline. They didn't even all have the same character names!

This latest version is set in a contemporary world. Jackson Maine is a troubled musician, a true blue rockstar who ticks every single stereotype of the word. Ally is a struggling artist who has somewhat given up on her dreams of being a musician. By day she works in a restaurant (every artist can relate to this scenario of taking day jobs to pay the bills while we hustle to make it big), and at night she performs in drag bars. Jackson discovers Ally and as her star rises we see his decline.

I liked it but I expected more. The more I think about it, the more frustrated I am about how it all ended. The movie started off strong but the middle made me feel a bit restless. It's a long movie (2 hrs 15 min to be exact) and I felt that it was gratuitous to keep dwelling on Jack spiralling down. To me that wasn't the story. I would have loved to know more about Ally's life. Even though it's 2018 and more women are at the forefront of their own stories, I still feel like the film carried over its past patriarchal ideologies in this version. Ally's life seem to only center around a man, whether that's Jack or her father. Her career was only a second priority. And even though there were a few scenes with her and her friends, it still feels like those scenes were only focussed on Jack and not really on her.

I wanted her backstory. I wanted to get to know her as a person, her hopes and dreams deeper than what was explored. I wanted to know the family dynamics and her relationship with her dad. All throughout the film we only know her as "Ally" - no last name or even a clue to what it is. Then in the end she introduces herself as Ally Maine. She didn't even have her own identity beyond Jack.

I think not showing her full character development did this film a disservice, especially considering how it ended. I didn't feel as strong of an emotional connection as what I should have felt after that climax. The last 20 minutes is intense and while I'm a highly emotional person who cries over everything, I felt nothing once the credit rolled. Well, maybe not nothing because I'm not a heartless person, but I didn't feel what the movie was probably hoping it would make me feel towards the end. I couldn't help but think that it was a complete waste of a roller coaster and that the events that happened to get us to that ending was all for nothing.

I also think the contemporary setting could have been embedded more in the film, perhaps incorporating the modern way we consume 'celebrity' these days. Sure there were mentions of YouTube and algorithms in a heartwarming scene between Ally's dad and her friends, but where were the celebrity gossip blogs? The depiction of Instagram and it's relationship to the overall celebrity culture and identity? I think incorporating those would have really left a mark as a very 2018 thing to do so that when we watch it in the future before it gets remade again, we can feel nostalgic for 2018 and how the world was back in that era.

All this being said, though, I feel like I'm one of the only few people to share this opinion of liking the film but not really loving it as much as I thought I would. So far on social media all I see are people raving about it, talking about how it's the best movie of the year etc etc. To each their own, I guess. It IS a must-see though purely for the acting (Bradley and Gaga are sensational in this film, their chemistry so believable and genuine that I forgot she was the Lady Gaga for most of the film), the gorgeous cinematography, and Anthony Ramos' portrayal of Ally's loyal bestfriend Ramon.

Then there's the soundtrack. All original, mostly written and performed by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. The music feels organic to the film and I think if I had listened to the songs before I had seen it, I probably would have been more connected to the film. I'm planning to see the it again, this time more familiar with the songs. It might change my view of the film. The like might just turn into love. After all, if I've learnt anything from this movie, it's that a song can change someone's life and that music and love are two of the most powerful, magical forces in our human experience.

A Star Is Born opens in New Zealand on Thursday, 18 November. Watch the trailer here. This review originally appeared on

. Sunday, 14 October 2018 .

It’s Sunday evening which means in my head I've basically gotten through Monday already (lol no send coffee pls) and it's Project Runway time! Like I said, I’m very much looking forward to TV viewing old-school style again that I’m even enjoying watching the ad break! Can you believe?

Anyway, I know I said I was posting a recap of the first episode and I didn’t. Ok so I lied. But shit happened (shit being me) and Tuesday came around and my whole team was off sick so homegirl was busy. By the time I got home, all I could do was legit pass out and eat in bed. Ah well, this week is a new week and I am READY!

Here’s what you missed on Glee Project Runway New Zealand: First episode finally aired on TVNZ 2 and of course they wasted no time at all and went straight to the first challenge. Actually, no, the show opened with the designers meeting each other for the first time. Of course this being New Zealand (with a small but vibrant fashun industry), we find out within the first 10 minutes of the show that some of them already know each other. That tug at my heartstrings, to be honest. I love that this is New Zealand and we are so small and that we can have moments like this on a massive TV franchise like Project Runway. The challenge for this episode was to create a cocktail dress inspired by Hopt soda, a major show sponsor. I personally found it to be a bit meh as a first challenge, but then again what do I know?

The first round of eliminations saw Nicole get the cut and while I really didn't like her dress, I do respect the fact that she stuck with who she is as a designer and what she wanted to create. I think that's the most important thing in a show like this - to create what you want. Other's opinions be damned.

Episode two was a bit more exciting for me. First of all, Judy finally got more airtime! We barely saw her in episode one - a sentiment that other people on Twitter shared too so of course I'm feeling validated. This episode opened with the designers on location at everybody's favourite mall - Sylvia Park - home to the only Zara in NZ! We are told that Kiwi Property is a major sponsor, hence the location and the accessory wall. Actually, I feel like we keep hearing about this accessory wall but never get to see it in full. Can someone please do an accessory wall tour like they do in YouTube? Kind regards.

Mentor Andreas Mikellis assigned each designer a store where they get to pick one item to incorporate into this week's look. Ok look, Sylvia Park is my jam. It is my mall shopping destination of choice. I know these stores and their merchandise and their layout so seeing them film inside Gassons was honestly the show's most relatable moment so far. Anyway, the group reconvenes back in the middle of Sylvia Park (idk what time they filmed but the mall was ghost town!) and Andreas reveals that they now need to swap items with the person next to them. They were clearly SHOOK by this and as my friend Geoj said in our comment thread, "were they not expecting the old switcheroo?!"

They weren't. But what can you do, eh? This week's challenge is to come up with a contemporary streetwear look incorporating the item they got and it is ON. I must say this week's outfits were so much better. I'm not the biggest streetwear wearer in the world, but I appreciated how they interpreted this brief. I'm not prepared to talk about each of the looks because it's been, like, a week and I'm kind of tired, but this is something I'd love to go more into this week!

What I will say though is that my boy Massey won this week's challenge with his uber chic cape/top thing that I would 100% buy if I saw it in store. I don't even mind that it's not in black! I loved everything about this look - the top and the handpainted design on the skirt was such a fresh take on streetwear. The only thing I'd probably change is the skirt length. I'd take it up a bit higher so homegirl can show off her legs more while in sneaks. And I say this as someone who wears sneakers 99% of the time.

But of course this being a competition, someone had to be cut this week. And unfortunately that someone is my girl Lenon. I am genuinely shocked about this. All she ever wanted to do was create androgynous and gender fluid garments! Is it too much to ask that we have this type of creativity on our TV screens? Is it too much to ask for Lenon to have her own TV show because I LIVE for her commentary! As I was live tweeting last week, I found that most of NZ shared the same sentiment. We want Lenon back. She deserved better. We all deserved better than this. I still can't believe they picked Beth's design over Lenon's. This is an injustice and I'm still not over it.

So this is an interview I didn't think I would be doing so soon! Lenon and I have been following each other on the ol' Instagram and have slid into each other's DMs before finally meeting IRL at the Project Runway launch last September. Lenon has such a great energy to her - fun, charismatic, unapologetically herself, and just is. She even shared her last pizza slice with me. That's a true friend, right there. I definitely don't think this will be the last we'll see of her. She tells me she's into acting and loves to pursue other creative endeavours. I told her I couldn't wait to make magic with her. It's happening. I'm excited! But for now I leave you with this:

How are you feeling now?

I don’t see leaving Project Runway as the end, it’s more like the beginning of a new chapter. The show has really inspired me to get creating!

What inspires you?

My aesthetic stylistically echoes my African heritage and also reflects my androgynous and flamboyant personality. I am a huge fan rich bold colours and strong silhouettes.

Dream collaboration/dream person to design for/dress?

I dream of dressing up Lupita Nyongo, Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah, Lady Gaga because these figures are not afraid to push the boundaries when it comes to personal style.

Fun fact, I actually had a cameo role in Scarlet Johansson’s movie, Ghost in a Shell, and after meeting her I was in absolute awe of her personality – so I would definitely take up the offer of dressing her if this were ever to arise!

Advice for those wanting to pursue a career as a fashion designer?

Don’t be afraid to take risk; trust me you will be amazed. Keep at it and believe in yourself, and one day you might surprise yourself!

Where can we follow you and keep up with what's next?

Follow me up on Instagram: @lenon_wakuwa
Facebook: Lenon Wakuwa Mudiwamwanawaishe
Also check out my website; it is still under construction, but it should be finished soon:

Project Runway New Zealand airs every Monday, 7:30 pm on TVNZ 2. Watch it On Demand here. Images by Tom Hollow.