Kimberly-Clark’s toilet paper fashion project swaps stages for screens and pages

Since 2009 three dresses made from Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper have been chosen by judges to walk the runways at New Zealand Fashion Week. And three more designs have made the finals in this year’s competition, although this time the stage isn’t a fashion catwalk, it’s a documentary-style series of television commercials and the pages of Next magazine.

The series of mini-documentaries made by TVNZ’s Blacksand tell the story of around 20,000 metres of toilet paper being fashioned into 32 beautiful cocktail dresses by talented young hopefuls studying at NZ Fashion Tech’s Auckland and Wellington Diploma classes in four evolving episodes on television and online. 

The finalists, who had four weeks to complete the task, were chosen by fashion designer Natalie Chan, Next magazine editor Sarah Henry, NZ Fashion Tech director Kevin Smith, and general manager of Kimberly-Clark New Zealand, Michele Bollinger.

Supermodel Kylie Bax will be joining the judges to pick the overall winner, and she will also model the winning dress in a photo shoot in Next.

Both Worlds Dress – Vili Tonu

Finalist Vili Tonu (25) says the skirt of his dress ‘Both Worlds’ is designed to pay tribute to Tapa cloth design and his Tongan heritage. He also drew inspiration from the kauri canopy of Auckland Art Gallery, which he calls, “a warm, natural example of New Zealand’s built heritage”.

Camellia Dress – Kat McLeod

Kat McLeod (24) says her entry into the competition, the ‘Camellia Dress’, is all about the femininity of fashion.

“I wanted the flowers to be scattered and falling down towards the hem to bring the softness,” says McLeod.

And the youngest of the three finalists, Maria French (21), has echoed the textures of nature in her contribution called ‘Contradictions’. This was inspired by Kimberly-Clark’s sustainable principles and Forest Stewardship Council certification. She says the papier maché​ bodice is reminiscent of tree bark, and the skirt spreads out like a soft, leafy canopy.

The winner will be revealed in the August issue of Next magazine. 

Contradictions Dress – Maria French

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