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In Conversation with Ian Bernhard

With Whanganui-a-Tara once more playing host to the vibrant, intoxicating World of Wearable Arts, we are proud to display 2016's WoW Factor award winner, Incognita, at our Wellington store.  

Created by Deadly Ponies' own Design Lead, Ian Bernhard, Incognita, is a stunning architectural baroque belle, featuring delicate and mysterious hand-painted images.

Join us as we talk inspiration and artistic process with the creative force that is Ian…

Ian Bernhard, Incognita, 2016

Ian Bernhard, Incognita, 2016

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This year you have three pieces being displayed at WOW. How do you source inspiration, in particular - your inspiration for these designs?

My inspiration sources are widespread and varied. I draw influence from literature, history, mythology, and culture around the world, and then I amalgamate it through my own lens. I have a particular fascination with flora and fauna, but viewed with a surreal sensibility.

This year my three pieces draw inspiration from Memento Mori, a concept similar to the inspiration for Incognita, popularised in the Elizabethan period. As well as Greco-Roman mythology, and Heresy & Catholic Persecution.

Does your work see influences from a New Zealand background, or do you look internationally? What does your creative process look like?

As an immigrant to New Zealand, a great deal of influence comes from my home country, South Africa, particularly through an appreciation for bright, intense, and unconventional colour.

When you move countries as a child, I think it gives you a broader appreciation and connection to the world as a whole.

My creative process always starts with imagination. Often my garments are fully realised in my mind, right down to how I want them to move and what personality they will have. From this, it flows through to sketching, solidifying the concept in reality, then toiling and final construction.

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In 2016 you were a WOW Factor Award winner for your Incognita design, how did the piece come to fruition? What was involved in making it?

Incognita was a very organically formed piece, created for the Baroque and Rococo-themed section in WOW's 2016 show. It was moulded over a padded mannequin, boned in the Rococo style, trimmed with satin and taffeta, and finally hand-painted with fine oil colour to create the patterns and images, essentially forming a living and moving artwork.

It is inspired by vanitas still life paintings from the Baroque period. These were created to remind the viewer of their mortality and the worthlessness of worldly possessions, combined with more recognisable references to the fashion history of that period.

Look closely and you’ll see references to this through the paintings.


Is there a creative's work that you are particularly coveting at the moment?

Right now, I'm loving Daniel Roseberry's work for Schiaparelli. It just brings pure art every time.

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What are you currently working on (that you can share)?

Currently a bridal gown for my sister, but it won’t be long and I’ll be onto the next WOW piece for next year!


What advice would you give to young creatives with similar aspirations?

Work hard and get your designs out there. Not only will it give you more confidence and experience, but the exposure to other creatives will bring a tonne of opportunities and connectivity for you in time.


Which are your favourite DP pieces this season?

Cloud Bender Atoll Suede, actually all of the suede styles. Cinch Mini in every colour, but especially Peppercorn Lizard, and the Mini Verne Ember Python.