NOM*d has cast a sombre, wry, witty and undeniably influential shadow across New Zealand’s fashion landscape for almost 35 years. A fleeting installation at Objectspace, Ponsonby sets out to capture the heart of its aesthetic.
Like many of Dunedin’s original thinkers, whether in art or music, NOM*d, founded by Margarita and Chris Robertson in 1986, better fits the label ‘auteur’. For almost 35 years, the brand has been exploring highly conceptual thematic preoccupations, the uniform, the utilitarian approach, colour, predominantly black, expressing them with an edge, a twist, even a mood resulting from broad knowledge not just of fashion, but of art and pop culture too.
In 2011, in NOM*d, The Art of Fashion, a book edited by Hilary Radner, and Natalie Smith to accompany an exhibition of the same name, Margarita Robertson is described as a national designer of significant cultural importance…recognised in public collections and by her inclusion in recent exhibitions, biographies and histories on New Zealand fashion’s design practice.
Just as in the workroom, Robertson’s output is based upon collaboration with a team of designers, NOM*d’s wider themes of interest are explored and expressed through partnerships with creatives from a variety of backgrounds.
The resulting media artefacts from those years of collaboration – the so-called “skeletons accumulating in our closets” – form the heart of an ephemeral exhibition at Objectspace, which has been timed to coincide with Semi Permanent, Aotearoa’s largest and longest-running creative industries event.
Delving into the fashion house’s extensive archives reveals a range of contributors whose works have set the tone for this seasonless offerings, including Richard Shaw with Bored Games (2002) and Caveat Emptor (2005), Kirsty Cameron’s Turncoats in 2010, Rebecca O’Brien’s Do Not Disturb (2012) and, from Karen Inderbitzen Waller and Delphine Avril Planqueel, short clips from 2013 and 2014 that sit alongside the impressive array of photographic stills that have captured the spirit of many collections.
For Skeletons, Richard Shaw, re-enlisted, oversees an installation featuring timeless garments from a seasonless collection, which also features hand-cut stencils airbrushed onto t-shirts by Sam Robertson, now of course, an identifiable part of the NOM*d’s brand DNA. Archival media footage is appropriated and reinterpreted by Dunedin-based artist and musician Christopher Schmelz, and an accompanying tabloid publication features photographs and photographers from 1986 to the present day, many previously unseen and chosen for their mood and attitude.