FASHION WEEK FAVOURITES
With help from event founder, Dame Pieter Stewart, we look back on 16 years of New Zealand Fashion Week
A retrospective of NZFW
In 2009, mantilla-wearing fashion matriarch, Diane Pernet, kept organisers waiting at the Hilton hotel for hours with no explanation. “When she eventually arrived, her mantilla was off to the side and it turned out she’d been given the 10 times over by New Zealand Customs. It was just awful!” says Dame Pieter. Years earlier, in 2002, legendary
British fashion critic Colin McDowell kicked up a fuss when he received a ‘Row B’ ticket, not realising that it was a front-row seat. Luckily, all was forgiven. After the event, he commended the work of designers Zambesi and World, and wrote that New Zealand could become known as the home of “really good, directional knitwear.” Of course, by far the biggest coup when it came to coverage was (rather ironically) American actress and model Pamela Anderson, whose ‘A*Muse’ collaboration with New
York fashion designer, Richie Rich, was launched at NZFW in 2009. The pair’s next-to-nothing designs were modelled by the star herself – a spectacle that generated 97 international news stories within two days.
Ever the innovator, Karen Walker introduced us to installations in 2003 with her dual ‘Queenie Was a Dog’ presentation and Karen Walker Jewellery launch. Featuring models dressed in carousel prints arranged on a giant revolving wheel, and arcade-style claw machines bursting with baubles, carnivale never looked so cool – that is, until Project Runway winner Sean Kelly showed up with a sophisticated house of mirrors at NZFW 2015. As impressive as this was, NOM*d takes the top prize in this category for its elaborate 2010 effort entitled ‘Danse Macabre’. A Dickensian-style dinner party replete with raucous guests was the focus of this performance piece; a wrecked car and wrought iron bed completed the creepy picture.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
NZFW is a tight operation, but things don’t always go to plan – just ask Dame Pieter, who recalls the year a homeless man was mistakenly granted access to the Town Hall and proceeded to chase naked models backstage. The following year, she says, the whole venue nearly had to be evacuated after a woman claimed there was a gunman on the loose. Other headline-grabbing hiccups over the years include:
• Models toppling like dominoes on RJC’s Russian winterthemed runway in 2002, proving that stilettos and fake snow are not a good mix.
• Annah Stretton enraging animal rights activists in 2004 by accessorising a ballgown with a taxidermied boar’s head, before reprising the polarising look as part of her retrospective show in 2012. Talk about pig-headed.
• Party girl Aja Rock throwing red wine over gossip columnist Bridget Saunders, pre-Huffer’s 2007 show.
The move overshadowed the main event, as media outlets clamoured to cover the catfight, rather than the catwalk.
EVOLUTION OF AN EVENT
With technology changing the way fashion is consumed and critiqued, there’s much debate about the relevance of the current fashion week model. But when it comes to adapting, Dame Pieter says NZFW has an advantage over larger fashion weeks. “We’re small so we can be nimble” she says. Indeed, in 2008, New Zealand Fashion Weekend was tapped onto the NZFW schedule as a way of catering to designers more interested in showing to a consumer audience than selling forward collections to buyers – futureproofing at its finest. “I think international fashion weeks will survive in their present forms, but they may take on new forms as well,” says Dame Pieter. “I’m thrilled that we’re already doing that.”
The Fashion Quarterly team will be stationed at New Zealand Fashion Week from August 22 – 28. For all our coverage, tune in to FQ.co.nz/NZFW2016