what you missed at new zealand fashion week
New Zealand designers are creating globally-minded fashion from the end of the earth.
Photography Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images
New Zealand might be thousands of miles away from the traditional fashion capitals of the world, but that’s not stopping the country’s designers from participating in the fashion industry on a global level. A new generation of young Kiwi designers in particular are using a highly-digital and globally-focused mindset to create fashion that also pays respect to its origins. The local industry’s stalwarts are also getting in on the action, while highlighting the pathway they forged for the next generation. At this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week this was on show more than ever, as exciting up-and-coming labels showed alongside veterans who proved that they are as relevant as ever. Here, we take a look back at the week in Auckland and the shows that captivated us with their ideas.
The Paris Georgia label might still be very young (only born in 2015) but from the early days designers Paris Mitchell and Georgia Cherrie have showcased a wisdom beyond their years. Case in point was their NZFW show which was one of the most well-rounded shows of the week. Everything married well, from the thumping and sometimes haunting music, to the collection featuring slick metallics, to the imposing but sleek sculpture that featured on the runway. References to the 90s might be common in fashion now but Paris Georgia’s interpretation of 90s minimalist cool has always been forward-thinking and never a simple imitation.
Iconic New Zealand fashion label Zambesi celebrated its 40th birthday at this year’s fashion week, a huge milestone for any fashion house but especially for Zambesi who have been blazing a trail and consistently pushing New Zealand fashion since inception. The show was held at an Auckland library, which was not classic or grand in style but rather contemporary, with three floors of escalators providing much of the runway for the show. Models acted out boredom and mugged disdain, as if they had spent many hours in a library against their will, while they traversed through the crowd in a collection filled with Mod elements. The zig-zag of escalators and maze of bookshelves were the perfect background to the collection’s tailoring elements and classically minded checks and animal prints, with touches of Zambesi modernism playing the cherry on top. The models might have purposely looked bored for much of the show, but the audience was nothing but enthusiastic throughout.
For his first solo show Benjamin Alexander held his debut in a simple and striped back manner that allowed his collection to breathe and speak for itself. On a beautiful Auckland morning with the sun bellowing through huge windows in an empty attic space, the focus was squarely on the collection. With the colour pallette featuring mostly neutrals, with a few plaid fabrics and metallic moments thrown in for good measure, the designer focused on finishing and construction. Many young designers in their first show can be tempted to try too much and lose themselves in the process — but Benjamin Alexander didn’t fall victim to that phenomenon and instead showed the restraint of someone confident and familiar with their ideas.
Most fashion shows begin with the introduction of thumping music urging the crowd to a whisper as the first look emerges, but this wasn’t the case at Maggie Marilyn. Instead the show began with a rousing call to arms by designer Maggie Hewitt who spoke to the audience about the importance of sustainability all before a single look was shown. It was an important moment for the designer who has always promoted the notion that sustainability must come first. Once the show began the collection showcased the effervescent use of colour that fans have come to expect from Maggie Marilyn but that also wasn’t afraid to play with darker elements and tailoring. The show was held in an indoor garden, not the highly manicured type but one that was overflowing with trees, flowers and fresh fruit, while clothes hung on washing lines above the audience’s heads. It felt lived in and personal, reminding us that this was a lovingly made collection for all the people that it will touch: the people who designed it, the people who made it, and ultimately, the people who will wear it.
This year marked the tenth anniversary of Miromoda at New Zealand Fashion Week, celebrating a decade of nurturing and development for the country’s Maori designers. Each year ten designers are selected through a competitive process to showcase their designs on the runway in front of the New Zealand fashion industry and visiting global delegates. While diversity on the runway is an important issue that continues to be championed, it’s programs like Miromoda that ensure inclusion throughout all levels of the fashion industry. And it’s a program that works, in the 2018 Miromoda showcase one of the highlights was Campbell Luke which then went on to do a solo show this year and quickly became the most touching and talked about show of the week.