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Persistence and passion sees Wintec graduate head to NZ Fashion Week

Sristi Kaur is preparing to take her designs to NZ Fashion Week

As a five-year-old girl in India, Srishti Kaur was absolutely fascinated with her mother’s sewing machine. Fast-forward 20 years and Srishti, a Wintec graduate, is preparing to showcase her bespoke bridal and evening couture gowns at New Zealand Fashion Week this month.

Despite a lifelong love of sewing and fashion, forging out a career in New Zealand’s small and cut-throat fashion industry hasn’t always been a smooth journey.

In fact, after moving with her family to New Zealand when she was nine and taking up sewing at school at age 12, Srishti says she was the worst sewer in her class. Fortunately, this only deterred her for a few years and, determined not to give up, Srishti tried her hand at sewing once again at Hamilton Girls High school.

“At high school I discovered how much I loved sewing! I felt like I had touched on a real passion so continued sewing all through high school and got really good. I then started to be more interested in fashion and decided to pursue fashion as a career. A lot of people told me not to choose arts as a career but I just had a gut feeling that this was for me,” says Srishti.

Trusting her gut feeling, Srishti enrolled in Wintec’s Diploma in Fashion Design and Practice where she learnt the basics of pattern-making, fabric cutting and garment construction.

“I loved that our course was really student centric. Our intakes were small meaning that the tutors gave us ample time and attention to teach us skills. We had the freedom to create designs of any genre we wanted and to experiment as artists,” says Srishti.

Graduating from Wintec in 2012, Srishti’s first job was at a bridal company in Auckland. It was here where, surrounded by beautiful dresses every day, Srishti started daydreaming about designing her own gowns.

The first gown she ever designed was a ball gown for her cousin in 2015. To her surprise, the dress turned out even better than she had expected and her cousin won best dressed at the ball.

That was the beginning of Srishti Kaur Designs.

“I thought bespoke was a great way to start as I got paid for what I made and, at the same time, could learn about my own capabilities. At the same time, it was a big risk because these were real clients putting their trust and money into me,” says Srishti.

“I soon realised that I loved the intimate process needed to create each customer’s dream dress. It’s a long process because for every single client I create a new design, draft new patterns, source new fabrics and often employ new construction techniques and finishes to complete the dress,” she adds.

Srishti decided to make this her business model and hasn’t looked back.

 “As a kid sewing seemed like magic and even today it feels magical when a garment I’ve envisioned mentally comes to life. It’s truly fulfilling when I see my beautiful clients jump up and down in joy when they put their gown on,” says Srishti.

When it comes to designing her bespoke gowns, the 25-year-old designer works backwards – first finding a fabric she loves and then coming up with the design.

“I have an indescribable passion for exquisite fabrics. I believe that every fabric has a character of its own and, just like humans, you’ve just got to let them be themselves to make them work best. However, the foundation of every gown is always inspired from what I perceive as elegance, beauty and sophistication,” adds Srishti.

Srishti is both excited and nervous about showcasing her designs in the new ‘Emerging Couture Designers’ category at New Zealand Fashion Week. Her collection, named ‘Ethereal Ecstasy’, is inspired by the idea of eternal love. Consisting of 10 bridal and evening couture gowns, Srishti says the collection is a balance of simple silhouettes with immaculate fabrics that endorse elegance, beauty and drama.

Each gown can take a whopping 20-40 hours to create.

This is particularly impressive given that Shristi operates all by herself. From client meetings, designing, sourcing fabrics, pattern-making, creating mock ups, client fittings, construction of the dress and marketing her business, the young designer does it all!

Hesitant to call herself successful just yet, Srishti says that her achievements so far are thanks to her crazy work ethic, making her career a lifestyle rather than a business, being persistent, staying humble and having good manners.

As for the future?

“I would love to see Srishti Kaur Designs synonymous with the word ‘elegance’ in New Zealand,” concludes Srishti.

* New Zealand Fashion Week is held in Auckland, 27 August  - 2 September.

Find out more about studying fashion design at Wintec’s School of Media Arts.

Read more:
Wintec weekend of fashion ahead in the Waikato.
Fashion students gain new awareness at Māori weaving workshop
New design and communication degrees take a world view
Wintec fashion students relish Thai experience
Passion for fashion earns coveted scholarship

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Hamilton designer Srishti Kaur will showcase her collection of couture gowns at New Zealand Fashion Week in Auckland
Images: Hamilton designer and Wintec fashion design graduate, Srishti Kaur will showcase her collection at NZ Fashion Week in Auckland.