One of Vaughan Geeson's early fashion memories is of his great-aunt. With a consuming passion for making clothes, her cupboards were full of Simplicity and Butterick patterns and she continued to sew in her 90s. Every Friday she would dress in her latest home-sewn garment and go shopping in Gore. The transformation of this ordinary event into an occasion piqued Vaughan's interest in fashion's power to improve daily life.
Vaughan first sat behind a sewing machine at Fabric Technology class at high school. However, a career in fashion design had never occurred then; sewing was just a means to make clothes for himself.
Vaughan intended to study art but switched to fashion as it combined the creativity of design with the practicality of clothing. He was accepted into Otago Polytechnic's fashion school on the basis of a portfolio consisting largely of paintings. Vaughan was the only student in his class without solid clothing construction experience, and sewing was the one subject he struggled with. His first term was tough because by his own admission he could barely sew a straight line. Determined not to be beaten, Vaughan mastered the craft and three years later, in 1997, graduated top of his class in every subject.
After graduation, Vaughan based himself in Dunedin and launched his namesake label. This was also the year Vaughan won the Smokefree Young Designer award (formally the Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards).
In 1999 Vaughan relocated to Auckland to take a design position with DNA Clothing, later Doris de Pont, a role held until 2007.
Still based in Auckland, Vaughan relaunched his namesake womenswear label with a collection for Winter 2009, which was promptly picked up by retailers throughout New Zealand and in Japan. He also has stockists in Australia and Hong Kong. The label has become known for its original fabric prints and graphic use of colour. Literature, travel and cinema all contribute to inspire Vaughan's collections.
Text by Sarah-Jane Rowland.
Published July 2013.