Rune wears a Gucci dress and Karen Walker scarf. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

Patchwork & Peter Pan Collars: The New Season Is A Theatre Of Wardrobe Nostalgia

At a time when fashion can offer comfort, designers are looking to the past for inspiration. The details and silhouettes of these garments help connect us to simpler times and evoke the child within.

Geometric prints

Graphic prints continue to segue from youth to adulthood, the simplicity of a geometric pattern magnified on another blast from the past — the oversized smock dress. Combine these two elements and you have the perfect formula for a look that can be described only as pure, free-flowing, unadulterated joy, like this Gucci ensemble (pictured above).

Samsoe Samsoe dress, $295, from Caughley

Paloma Wool top approx. $170

Isabel Marant Etoile shirt $969

House of Sunny dress, $255, from Slick Willy's


Rune wears a Kate Sylvester cardigan, Karen Walker top, Paloma Wool trousers, Meadowlark necklace, Gucci bag, and Kathryn Wilson shoes. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

As children, a versatile cardigan was a constant in our wardrobes. Named after the British Army major-general James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, the garment was invented after he noticed the tails of his coat had accidentally been burnt off in a fireplace. Years later, Coco Chanel popularised the cardigan as she disliked the way regular sweaters messed up her hair when pulled over the head. The retro styling of the ‘Phoebe’ cardigan from Kate Sylvester reminds us of the versatility this classic garment holds today. 

Ruby cardigan $189

Standard Issue cardigan $299

Gucci cardigan $2000

Kowtow cardigan $249

Peter Pan collars

Ayak wears a Twenty-seven Names dress and Meadowlark pearl hoop earrings. All other earrings model’s own. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

It’s no surprise that proponents of modest-yet-girlish dressing like Anna Sui and Batsheva Hay are experiencing a newfound appreciation for their babydoll designs and house dresses rendered in frivolous, floral prints.

Close to home, designers Rachel Easting and Anjali Burnett of Poneke-based label Twenty-seven Names have long delivered smock dresses and Peter Pan collars as part of their signature offering, garments beloved by creatives and high-powered executives alike — because a woman wearing a smock dress with a ‘cutesy’ Peter Pan collar can be taken just as seriously as one wearing a razor-sharp double-breasted blazer. 

Ganni blouse, $398, from Workshop

Miu Miu shirt, $1172, from Matchesfashion

Rixo blouse, approx. $369, from Farfetch

Kowtow shirt $229

Bucket hats

Beach Brains hat, Nom*D jacket, Karen Walker earrings, and Meadowlark ring. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

There’s no sign of waning when it comes to the reign of the bucket hat, the faithful headwear even more ubiquitous this summer with the likes of Mina, Zambesi, and Hej Hej all creating some of our favourite styles this season.

Isabel Marant bucket hat, $429, from Workshop

Sababa bucket hat $47

Lack of Color bucket hat, approx. $139

Emma Mulholland on Holiday bucket hat, approx. $70


Amadeo wears a waistcoat, shirt, shorts, bucket hat and crystal-studded loafers, from Prada’s pre-fall 2021 collection. Model’s own necklace and socks. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

There’s something about a waistcoat that might elicit memories of smartening up for a special family event. We’ve come full circle to give the waistcoat the kudos it deserves; a tidy, lighter solution to a blazer. There are a variety of ways to wear one without feeling overly juvenile.

Camilla and Marc vest $660

Matteau waistcoat, $525, from Muse

Harris Tapper waistcoat $335

Giuliva Heritage waistcoat, approx. $834, from Net-a-Porter

Mini purses

Rune wears a Prada purse, Ganni dress, Maggie Marilyn blouse and Karen Walker rings. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

The bare essentials are all that’s required in a bag the size of a chihuahua. Several handbag designers have included small and petite bags in their offering, the perfect entry level for a new customer when it comes to luxury options like this playful ‘Cleo’ jacquard knit bag.

Georgia Jay bag $470

Deadly Ponies bag approx. $620

Prada handbag $3650

Yu Mei bag $285

Patchwork dresses

Ayak wears a top, skirt and dress from Romance Was Born, and Meadowlark earrings. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

Like the hand-me-downs from those before us, a collection of rainbow colours is digitally pieced together like a puzzle. The irreverent joy of Australian label Romance Was Born is realised in the mesmerising combination of this patchwork print top, skirt, and dress (worn under), from the label’s Humble Pie collection. A cute pastiche of patchwork patterns, it’s mashed together in the form of a fanciful digital print, a sweet jumble for the eyes. 

Romance Was Born dress $520

Acne Studios dress, approx. $793, from Net-a-Porter

Zimmermann dress approx. $855

Sea dress, $499, from Matchesfashion

Sentimental fabrics

Lucky Dip and Kaukau shirt, and ChlitaCorp jeans. Model’s own necklace. Photo / Mia Vinaccia

Part of the beauty of nostalgic dressing is the comfort of having a one-of-a-kind textile envelop your body — like a hug from the past, holding you close when times are tough. Here, Amadeo wears a shirt as part of a unique collaboration between local maker Tuhirangi Blair’s upcycled shirt label Lucky Dip and concept store Kaukau, based in Wellington. The partnership’s third collaboration sees Kaukau co-owner Prakashan Sritharan offer special subcontinent fabrics as shirting linked to Prak’s Sri Lankan heritage. 

Collina Strada jeans, approx. $565, from Ssense

Lucky Dip shirt made from Penny Sage offcuts $450

Body NYC one-off-a-kind shirt, approx. $692

Photographer / Mia Vinaccia. Fashion editor / Chloe Hill. Models / Ayak Chuot, Kiki Mdawarima, and Rune Benzon from Kirsty Bunny Management, and Amadeo Grosman from RPD Models. Hair / Michael Beel. Makeup / Amy McLennan. With thanks to Te Kunenga ki Purehuroa (Massey University).

This story was originally published in volume six of Viva Magazine.

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