The spellbinding beauty of Rory William Docherty designs is capturing all the right kind of attention.
Docherty, 42, describes his work as seasonless slow fashion and timeless craftsmanship anchored with original artwork.
Made from quality fabrics, cut and draped in clever and unexpected ways, and embellished with his artistry, Docherty’s designs defy seasons and transcend trends.
His current collection, Iris, is a study in growth – personal and emotional, and reflective of societal change.
It was inspired by irises in his brother’s Bannockburn garden at a time he was questioning everything.
The garden at Bannockburn is his refuge – he gravitated here following his first showing in Paris.
The future looked bright but Docherty was unsure he was on a path that aligned with his slow fashion values.
“I found myself hurtling towards taking the brand international and it didn’t feel quite right,” he explains. “I don’t want to be just another brand in an enormous store. I want to form meaningful relationships with people that are selling the clothes so that I know that the people buying them understand and appreciate that too.”
When the Level 4 lockdown stopped Docherty in his tracks it provided the opportunity to reflect on his true vision.
He planted iris bulbs that he had been gifted in his Auckland garden, and when they flowered, he drew them and made them part of his designs.
They informed the shapes of petal and seedpod-esque sleeves.
His drawings of them are transposed onto silks and silk velvets in multiple scales, and delicately embroidered on the bib of an Egyptian cotton shirt.
Their inspiration is also symbolic – the iris is known to represent faith, hope, courage, wisdom and admiration.
“I wanted to create something personal and new, but still beautiful, unapologetically so, relatable but not of the moment, like a lingering dream,” he explains.
Docherty concedes he tends to get carried away with romance and beauty, though he’s been conscious to add simple foundation pieces too.
This season that is in the guise of locally made knitwear made from New Zealand merino possum and silk.
Some pieces from his collection can be worn in different ways, such as a V-neck silk velvet dress that doubles as a sleeveless coat over trousers, and many styles are unisex.
Born in the UK to Scottish parents, Docherty grew up in New Zealand.
His father is an artist and art teacher, so Docherty grew up with a love of art.
Each year his parents held Hogmanay parties and got very dressed up. “That’s what was happening in the house and I was 13 when I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer. I just knew.”
Docherty trained in fashion design at Massey University and worked in fashion for five years each in London and New Zealand before going out on his own.
He feels slow fashion is a catchphrase that’s currently being bandied about, but it is at the very core of what he does so he has emphasised that this season by mixing pieces from earlier seasons with the Iris collection to remind people that they look just as fresh.
“I’m asking people to invest and my expectation is that it lasts for a long time and that they love it for a long time,” he says.