Kleenex and Fashion Week bring back the toilet paper dresses

Kleenex and Fashion Week bring back the toilet paper dresses

Back in 2009 and 2011, we saw the first toilet paper dresses from Kleenex grace the runway at New Zealand Fashion Week. Students at fashion school NZ Fashion Tech in Auckland and Wellington were challenged to design and make a dress out of toilet paper, and this year Kei Ho, Kapi Fonua and Tanya Jeffrey are the lucky three finalists.

Dress by Kapi Fonua Marissa Findlay Dress by Kapi Fonua Marissa Findlay Dress by Kei Ho Marissa Findlay Dress by Kei Ho Marissa Findlay Dress by Tanya Jeffrey Marissa Findlay Dress by Tanya Jeffrey Marissa Findlay

Born in Tonga, Fonua remembers admiring the intricacy and symmetry of the lace in the white dresses he saw at church on Sundays. Fonua crafted pohutukawa leaf-shaped lace out of toilet paper, and sewed it into the bodice of a whisper-light dress, inspired by fond memories of Christmases at the beach when he would climb among the pohutukawa trees.
Sci-fi fan Jeffrey cites Blade Runner heroine Rachel and the futuristic sets she admired so much in the movie as the inspiration for her retro-contemporary design. A structured tubular skirt contrasts with a gently contoured bodice and signature ‘Rachel’ collar.
Meanwhile Ho found his design inspiration in cupcakes, and says the playful layering of the skirt on his dress alludes to the silhouette of a lily, the pleating mimicking the paper cases, and the bodice swirls like ribbons of icing. 

A public vote at kicks off on Sunday, where you can have your say on your favourite.

For 2012, Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex Cottonelle, worked with Ogilvy and TVNZ to develop an integrated campaign that would amplify the paper dress concept. 

While the idea did well last year, senior brand manager Jason Biggs says they needed to take it even more mainstream. They wanted people to ‘dress up’ their bathrooms with a toilet paper which was premium quality. And most of all they wanted an execution that would speak to the brand’s target audience across many channels about softness and strength. 

So they created three stages of an integrated advertising, sponsorship, online and PR campaign running from February to October.

That started with sponsoring the final season of Desperate Housewives, leading into a nine-episode campaign featuring the three designers' journeys, culminating in the judging of the three winning dresses. A public vote online will choose New Zealand’s favourite little white dress, followed by runway appearances at the public shows at New Zealand Fashion Week. That will be capped off with the sale of a cloth replica of the winning design on TradeMe, and one final TV ad.

TVNZ’s Jodine Small says content integration is becoming more widely requested and accepted.

"We’re seeing new levels of integration into international and local shows and also creating specific content for brands,"
 she says.

“With Paper Dresses, there was a story to be told. The agency and client came to us early with the concept and we worked together to come up with a series of nine 30-second programettes that followed the highs and lows of three students as they embarked on the challenge. We shot it in a documentary style and drove viewers to longer-form content at a custom built minisite housed within

"The result is an entertaining series where the viewer is engaged with the brand throughout the journey of each student. The team has successfully built a new conversation platform."

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).