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Toilet paper dresses—not strictly reserved for Hen’s parties

One glance down the toilet paper aisle reveals that, well, there’s a lot of toilet paper to be had. And so in a bid to stand out from its competition, two years ago Kleenex took its toilet paper and enlisted the help of some would-be fashion designers, asking them to make dresses out of the paper—dresses which were then modelled on the runway of New Zealand Fashion Week. And in 2011, it’s at it again. 

About 25,000 metres of Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper and 22 dress styles later, the concept earned Apollo Marketing New Zealand two awards at the Australasian Promotional Marketers Association (APMA) awards last year. It took home two golds, one for Most Innovative Idea/Concept for the Kleenex Cottonelle Couture Challenge for Kimberly-Clark and the other for Best Sponsorship or Tie-In campaign for the same campaign. 

Come late August, three more paper-light, air-woven toilet paper dresses will debut on the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week’s nine designer selection shows. 

This year’s dresses have been designed by three trainee pattern-makers from NZ Fashion Tech’s diploma classes: 22-year-old Auckland Rachela Duval, 17-year-old Wellingtonian Emily Menzies, and 19-year-old Juvena Worsfold. 

Duval wanted her dress to be fun, young and sophisticated with influences from the glamour of the ‘50s. Her inspiration came from the “gentle foamy waves of the sea.” Duval contoured sea anemone and clam shell shapes into the curved layering of her effervescent paper-fused dress. 

For Worsfold’s creation, it’s all about Elton John, with her dress inspired by the singers  song ‘Your Song’. Just as the song evokes love, Worsfold wanted to express the words ‘I love you’ with the language and symbolism of her dress. Each hand-stenciled shape tells a different part of a romantic story, finished with petals and turtle doves edging an elegantly scooped back. Worsfold describes her dress simply as: “sweet and surprising.” 

Menzies started her fashion education at NZ Fashion Tech at age 15, and saw it as a means of learning the technical aspects of her main passion—car upholstery. Working with 42 lineal metres of toilet paper, she meticulously edged the outer perimeter of 7 layers of cascading under-skirt. 

Jason Biggs, senior brand manager Kimberly-Clark New Zealand, is feeling pretty good about the 2011 campaign, saying the 2009 campaign resulted in direct impacts on baseline sales. But he says there’s always a challenge in converting the attention garnered by the dresses into actual purchases. 

“The key challenge moving forward is how we bring the images of these dresses to point of purchase to create more connections. This year we are trialling a number of different mechanics including striking gondola-end displays, messages on shopping trolleys, aisle fins and floor media. These will give us strong steers on each media device’s effectiveness and how we can amplify our story even further in 2012,” he says. 

As well being strutted down the runway, the dresses will be replicated using real fabric and sold on Trade Me.