Belle of THE BAY

For Von­nie Palle­sen of Gus & Fan­nie, fash­ion and fam­ily are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked.

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Von­nie Palle­sen and sis­ter Car­lie Kennedy knew from a young age that fash­ion would be in their fu­ture. They did not know, how­ever, that they would one day launch a la­bel to­gether. In 2013, after carv­ing sep­a­rate ca­reers in floristry and fash­ion de­sign, the sis­ters’ cloth­ing brand Gus & Fan­nie was launched. The wom­enswear range is named after the pair’s great-grand­par­ents Au­gus­tus (Gus) and My­fan­wie (Fan­nie), who was a tal­ented seam­stress.

“We come from a very close fam­ily so it was im­por­tant to name the busi­ness some­thing mean­ing­ful,” Palle­sen, who is now the sole owner of the busi­ness, ex­plains. She fondly re­calls play­ing dress-ups in her mother’s wardrobe and mak­ing fash­ion scrap­books when she was young. “Our mother was al­ways sewing; she taught me about pat­tern-mak­ing and fab­rics. She was a huge in­flu­ence on me.”

Gus & Fan­nie’s lo­cally-made de­signs im­me­di­ately struck a chord with women. “We felt that af­ford­able, qual­ity and easy-to-wear gar­ments that weren’t mass pro­duced were miss­ing in the mar­ket; most of our gar­ments are un­der $200,” ex­plains Palle­sen.

While Gus & Fan­nie was ini­tially launched as an on­line bou­tique, in April 2015 the brand opened its first phys­i­cal store in Mairangi Bay on Auck­land’s North Shore – Palle­sen grew up around the cor­ner in Rothesay Bay. “Open­ing a bou­tique is some­thing I have al­ways wanted to do,” she says, “how­ever, my chil­dren have al­ways come first. I waited un­til they be­came in­de­pen­dent be­fore ful­fill­ing my dreams.”

The store stocks Gus & Fan­nie along­side lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional brands such as Ketz-ke, Coop, One Tea­spoon and Senso, and home­ware lines Ash­ley & Co, Ja­son Home and Kana Can­dles.

Palle­sen hopes to open more stores around the coun­try, but for now she’s busy look­ing after Bri­tish bull­dog Gus, and dreaming up her next col­lec­tion.

Von­nie Palle­sen in Gus & Fan­nie’s Mairangi Bay bou­tique.

Dress, $149, by Gus & Fan­nie. Stella + Gemma bracelet, $30, from Gus & Fan­nie.

Top, $119, by Gus & Fan­nie. Papil­ion clutch, $249, from Gus & Fan­nie. Dress, $169, by Gus & Fan­nie.

Top, $139, by Gus & Fan­nie.

Gen­eral Eclec­tic dish, $17, from Gus & Fan­nie.

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