Lauren Hemens graduated with a Bachelor of Fashion Technology and Design at Ara Te Pūkenga in 2022 and attended the 2023 Spring Graduation not long before her death.

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Lauren Hemens graduated with a Bachelor of Fashion Technology and Design at Ara Te Pūkenga in 2022 and attended the 2023 Spring Graduation not long before her death.

The family of fashion designer Lauren Hemens, who tragically died this year, have created an award in her honour at Ara Te Pūkenga.

Lauren Hemens was on her way to Auckland fashion house Moochi, a job she had been scouted for after completing a 4-month internship, when she was tragically struck by a car as she was crossing the road in June.

“From what I understand, she didn’t regain consciousness, and they couldn’t revive her at the hospital,” Hemens’ mum Sheena Hemens told Stuff.

Since the accident, Hemens’ stepmum Melissa Hanses and father Matt Hemens funded and instigated a $3,000 annual prize in her name at Ara that would be given out at the end of each year.

“It’s to remember her in a way that was going to be representative of her but also the educational pieces of it and to support another student that had similar values,” Hanses said.

“We worked pretty extensively with Kathryn McCully (manager of art and design and New Zealand Broadcasting School), who headed things up and took things back to the department.

“We knew Lauren obviously on a different level, we knew what she was passionate about, but they saw her in the academic sense. We asked them if they could think about somebody who might represent those similar qualities that we could then present a financial award to at the end of their year,” Hanses said.

The criteria for the award in Hemens’ name was drafted by her tutors and inspired by her skills and talent.

Part of Hemens’ award criteria is to demonstrate strong commercial potential and market viability, an understanding of the target audience persona, awareness of current and emerging fashion trends while remaining unique and innovative.

From left to right: Melissa Hanses (Lauren Hemens’ stepmum), Kathryn McCully, Charlie Hemens (Lauren Hemens’ twin), Sheena Hemens (Lauren Hemens' mum) and inaugural Lauren Hemens award winner Annabel Sullivan.

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From left to right: Melissa Hanses (Lauren Hemens’ stepmum), Kathryn McCully, Charlie Hemens (Lauren Hemens’ twin), Sheena Hemens (Lauren Hemens’ mum) and inaugural Lauren Hemens award winner Annabel Sullivan.

The award winner would show a well-developed brand identity and aesthetic throughout their study. Their work should be easily recognised and remembered, and while creative and practical, should also strike a balance between artists’ expression and functionality.

The award will be given out annually to a student who showed similar qualities of Hemens and met the criteria.

Hanses said it felt right to do something in perpetuity that honoured what Lauren loved, and to give back.

“Put simply, this was her jam, and we are grateful to be able to put this award in the department’s hands so you can recognise future designers with the same passion that Lauren had,” Hanses said.

After years of not knowing what to do, going overseas and then studying to become a makeup artist, Hemens decided to do a Bachelor of Fashion Technology and Design at Christchurchs’ Ara.

Lauren Hemens' 2022 first semester collection is on display in an exhibition of work by this year's Bachelor of Design in Fashion Technology graduating class.

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Lauren Hemens’ 2022 first semester collection is on display in an exhibition of work by this year’s Bachelor of Design in Fashion Technology graduating class.

“When Lauren came into it, she brought complete and utter devotion, dedication and discipline. She really put all her effort into the degree and her career afterwards, and she may have been more successful because of that maturity,” Hanses said.

Her mother Sheena is grateful to Ara for making the award happen to help keep her daughter’s name and memory alive.

“That’s all as a mother I want,” she said, sharing that her daughter was destined for design from an early age.

“Her passion was incredible. Even as a young child she was always cutting clothes up and taking sleeves off one outfit and putting them on another.”

Lauren Hemens graduated with a Bachelor of Fashion Technology and Design at Ara in 2022 and attended the 2023 Spring Graduation not long before her death.

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Lauren Hemens graduated with a Bachelor of Fashion Technology and Design at Ara in 2022 and attended the 2023 Spring Graduation not long before her death.

While finishing her degree in 2022, the young designer also made the move to Auckland’s Moochi and worked full time for the label as she studied.

Hemens’ dad and stepmum have committed to funding the award for at least the next 3 years but would like to see it “go on in perpetuity”.

“We want to figure out a way to make it sustainable. It would be a good opportunity for people to contribute and, ideally, we would like to keep it going.”



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