fashion | 25 november 2016

Standing out from the sea of neon colour palettes at NZFW’s first ‘New Grads’ section was JPAlm's 'discordia', a brooding black sheep.

words & interview by lara daly

video & photographs by: ted black


Bleached denim, hand-sewn patches and PVC in every shade of black stomped down the runway to the chilling sounds of Dunedin electronic garage band Élan Vital. JPALM’s ‘Discordia’ collection was unapologetically the darkest of the bunch. I went looking for the girl behind the fringing made from human hair and met Julia Palm, Dunners’ own Wednesday Adams.

The emerging Dunedin designer started up her label JPALM an impressive four months after graduating from Otago Polytechnic and hasn’t stopped over-achieving since. A multidisciplinary artist at heart, Julia’s a serial workaholic with her fingers in many pies. As well as a background in illustration, Julia crafts oversized leather clutch bags, she’s collaborated with local jewellery designer Kelly O’Shea and is mastering her sandal-making at Dunedin’s Shoe School. Julia counts herself lucky to be part of Dunedin’s close-knit creative community, and when it comes to inspiration, she keeps it local. After her ‘Discordia’ collection had some well-deserved spotlight at Fashion Week, Julia was already planning her next project as an homage to her Wellington & Auckland punk roots.

I called Julia to chat about her collection and the upcoming launch of her collaborative fashion film, JPALM Presents. While I was several wines deep into my Friday night, I wasn’t surprised when Julia told me she was the last one left slaving away in her shared studio space, The Fax Club.

"I got attracted to the word ‘discord’, and liked how it resonated with so many themes in my collection – inharmonious, uncomfortable, uneven"

What inspired your ‘Discordia’ collection?
The collection is inspired by my involvement in punk culture, and how this effected my use of textiles – bleaching, patching, bondage, leather - elements like this. The patches and text used for this collection are part of a collaboration with friend Esta de Jong. There is this one photograph of hers that I have been obsessed with for a long time! It is of a friend of ours, covered in this draped piece of velvet, and all that sticks out are his legs with 2 tattoos. This is where the collection title came from – his ‘Chaotic Dischord’ tattoo (a punk band I used to listen to when I was younger). I got attracted to the word ‘discord’, and liked how it resonated with so many themes in my collection – inharmonious, uncomfortable, uneven.

You use some interesting materials in your designs - including the coat with hair fringing up the sleeves and shoulders. What lead you to work with human hair?
The hair relates to my mother’s upbringing in The Exclusive Brethren. I did a lot of research into the ridiculous rules that (mainly) women in this faith have to live with – like not being able to cut your hair, wearing a ‘token’ so that God can tell you apart from other women etc. It’s all totally fucked! My mum left when she was 17 and cut all her hair off, as a revolt. Firstly, I was working with horsehair, which is a lot stiffer and so hard to deal with! The process of oiling it and straightening it was far too draining, so I began using human hair extensions that I found on Trademe. 

You’ve collaborated with your partner, photographer Ted Black making the ‘Discordia’ fashion film being released at ‘JPalm Presents’. Tell me about your plans for the launch:
After NZFW, I wanted to do something to show off the collection locally in Dunedin and get all my friends involved. The ‘JPalm Presents’ showcase is a snapshot of an active subculture here in Dunedin, and it presents the mulitiple crossovers and collisions between art, fashion, music and film. The ‘Discordia’ fashion film shows collab’s with Ted, Esta and the band Élan Vital. I had approached the band after working with them styling their music video ‘Janina’, and they were like ‘Fuck yeah!’. They are also playing live at the ‘JPalm Presents’ showcase. Ted and I have been collaborating for years, and it is such a natural process. We have now done 2 fashion films and lots of photoshoots together, and each time it goes from strength to strength. A launch is a good moment to get a bunch of babes involved, and show off our hot work, like why not? Dunedin is pretty amazing for things like this - nothing seems too unreachable and there’s a lot of people willing to help out, collaborate, and support you – which is really refreshing.


"Nothing seems too unreachable and there’s a lot of people willing to help out, which is really refreshing."

Ending our interview, Julia tells me the most exciting thing on her mind right now is “sleep,” although I can’t see her slowing down anytime soon. Jetting off to the U.S with Ted in just a month, Julia’s going out with a bang and isn’t afraid to roll with the next adventure; “The Graduate Visa sounded too good to turn down! Let’s see what happens.” Until then, you will likely find her spending about 16 hours a day at The Fax Club with Kelly O’Shea “going totally insane. Procrastinating, shit-talking, tea-drinking, mess making… and realizing our hilarious 3am in-jokes aren’t as witty when you repeat them to others.”

Quick-fire questions:

What annoys you the most?
Let downs, liars, and energy vampires.

What would 16-year old Julia have been wearing on a typical day?
A ripped patch mini skirt, screen printed hoodie, studded vest, ripped tights and boots, potentially green hair - oh and probably fingerless gloves haha #punk.

Best spot in Dunedin on a rainy day?
The fax club - duh

What’s your fave thing to do in Dunners (or South Island) over Summer?

Drinking cider with bae on the Penthaus balcony/fire escape. House parties and awesome gigs also key. (Penthaus = my dero-chic apartment on Vogel Street)

Describe your personal style in 3 words:

Neo punk-goth chic. (If I hyphenate does it count as one word?)


lara daly @lara.daly

JPalm @_jpalm_

ted black

models: alannah Kwant @whatikwant and oscar bannan @o2k7r

makeup: Jessica Reeves

music: Élan Vital



#jpalm #discordia #fashiondesigner #fashion #feature #video #interview #juliapalm #tedblack #elanvital #photography #inspiration #dunedin #newzealand #loandbehold


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