More about the garment and the designers
Fashion stylists Paula Coulthard and Ursula Dixon, who describe themselves as “rural girls from the sheep country”, teamed up to create their WOW entry. “Mainly we did it because we wanted to go down to Wellington to see the show; because we hadn’t been to it before and thought it would be more fun if there was something in it that we’d made”.
They spent many hours on the phone talking about fashion, culture and the things that inspire them. Paula has a Bachelor in Fine Art in Sculpture and worked in the art and wardrobe departments in the film/television industry before establishing her company Coultard which makes clothing and home ware.
As they discussed the trend for New Zealand-themed decor and home ware, they commented that some aspects of New Zealand life weren’t portrayed. The two Aucklanders had both lived in rural, farming communities and felt there was a lot of potential in “that unfamiliar and unglamorous world”. They were talking about the possibilities of working in white and light colours, when Ursula mentioned that she had seen a stack of wool sacks on the side of the road, “Our idea was born.”
The sacks were gone when they went to retrieve them so they bought some second-hand wool from a farming store. This had to be washed in boiling water, to get rid of the caked-in oil and sheep soil, but Paula notes that they loved the roughness of the wool and the farm markings that couldn’t be washed out.
Wool obviously led to a brainstorming focus on “all things sheepy”, but Ursula and Paula were also inspired by designer Vivienne Westwood. As they considered ideas around sheep, animal products, farming and fashion, they thought about how they could also reference the Westwood ‘look’.
Their design incorporated a gown, with helmet, shoes and, of course, the dags. “The dags were considered very early on in our process, as we wanted to really capture all aspects of sheep and glamorise them”. And the name? Rattle Your Dags refers to the well-know New Zealand expression (meaning to ‘hurry up’) and, says Paula, for them meant “Be proud of your individuality, celebrate where you come from and what makes you special.” The costume also had a message for fashion victims, “Don’t be a sheep blindly following the flock. Your own unique experience, culture and struggles, or the dags of your life, shape and inspire you as an individual. Sometimes the bad parts of your background are the jewels that make you who you are.”