Rosette Hailes-Paku: Winner of Apparel Magazine Most Commercial Award 2019

Rosette Hailes-Paku combined her unique inspirations from her childhood with the skills she had acquired from her time with Otago Polytechnic to create a collection which was both highly conceptual and commercially viable.
“When starting this project, I knew I wanted to create work about a really important experience in my life, and I wanted it to be an experience people could relate to,” related the emerging designer.
Hailes-Paku developed the concept for her graduate collection by looking back on some of her first experiences with fashion. The designer turned to her time in a Catholic high school and the feeling of conformity she felt during her time. “Being suppressed by so many rules and regulations made me feel as though I was rebelling without even trying. Throughout my time at school I felt this confusion between wanting to be free and be myself while being forced to believe things I didn’t believe, wear something I didn’t want to wear and blend in with everyone else,” she explained. Her design process began by taking aspects of the school uniforms she found so restrictive and reimaging them with her own creative flair. The tartan pattern which ran through Haile-Paku’s collection was knitted into merino wool with the help of Otago Knitwear and created the base for many of the collection’s items. One of the emerging designers’ key items in the collection was a straight jacket inspired piece, which symbolised the restrictive qualities of her old school uniform. “To do this, I extended the sleeves on some of my garments and made them unnecessarily long as well as adding straps that can be tied around the body or arms.”
When starting this project, I knew I wanted to create work about a really important experience in my life, and I wanted it to be an experience people could relate to.
The emerging designer wanted to create a collection which conveyed her detailed concept but was also comfortable and commercially viable for potential clients. To do this, she combined free-flowing materials with techniques such as boning to appear restrictive, rather than actually being so for the wearer. This rebellious new range fits in well with Hailes-Paku’s current brand, Busy Going Crazy, which was launched in collaboration with communication designer Jessie Hamilton. “Our brand embraces all things dysfunctional in the lives of adolescents while being heavily inspired by teen rebellion. We’re for the youth quakers, risk takers and un-shameful party players,” asserted the emerging designer. With such personal stories inspiring her designs, Hailes-Paku communicated the difficulty she sometimes finds in looking at her work objectively and making the changes that will turn her collection from a vision into a reality. “Getting really attached to my own work means that I’m pretty reluctant to compromise and find it difficult to take criticism,” she admitted. However, she also shared that she is willing to move past these restrictions in order to further her craft. “As I grow as a designer and get out into the real world, I think it is important to learn how to separate myself from my work while still maintaining the same passion and love I have for creating.”
Looking ahead, Hailes-Paku expressed to Apparel Magazine her eagerness to develop her brand, Busy Going Crazy. The brand started as a small project in the pairs spare time, creating print-based apparel to sell at the pop-up stores of iD Dunedin Fashion Week. The endeavour was immensely successful, with the items selling out. This, paired with her impressive showing during the runway gave the emerging designer confidence that pursuing this brand is the next step in her career. “We will be doing a collaborative project focused on our brand for our honours year at Otago Polytechnic and aim to show this range at New Zealand Fashion Week,” she said. “If we can pull that off, I think that will be a great opportunity for us to really get our brand out there.”