With help from event founder, Dame Pi­eter Ste­wart, we look back on 16 years of New Zealand Fash­ion Week

Fashion Quarterly - - In­side -

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.


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.


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

@nz­fash­ionwk | nz­fash­ion­week.com

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