the necessity derives from journalists plowing and harvesting the same field of designers, season in, season out. To that
end, we heard the Kiwi cries from Auckland and descended on the city to experience the off-the-beaten-track a/w ’07 Air New Zealand Fashion Week.
Comprising a privately owned fashion week, the events down under are a well-organized affair, with the aim of bringing the
best of New Zealand to a global audience. With the rapidly expanding international profile of Trelise Cooper, and brands such as Karen Walker showing in New York, the timing is right to place a wider vocabulary on the styles from
a region far away from the hemisphere in which our narrow list of influencers is focused.
What New Zealand lacks in a distinct style identity, it makes up for in heavyweight brands with big production budgets and
epic presentations. Kate Sylvester‘s Little Red Ridging Hood-themed collection was one of the week’s best — edgy and energized, Sylvester showed fierce power
girls emerging from the dark forest in hooded contraptions, showing off a procession of strong tailored jackets, focused knits,
cute dresses, and even suits, mainly in a gray palette with tinges of red, black, and gold.
Distilled, the pieces were wearable and smart, but Sylvester kept her runway looks editorial with fake-fur accents, shards
of red leggings, and booties worn with knee-high socks.
Zambesi, one of the more recognizable names outside the country, showed her immense popularity at home with a raucous presentation
set in a huge boatyard at Westhaven Marina. Auckland’s hoi polloi turned out to view her men’s and womenswear collection of
assured looks. Three-quarter-length coats and knit dresses over t-shirts outfitted the women, while men were decked in velvet
suits, slim-cut pants, and low-key tees, and knits. The big story, however, was Zambesi’s brave experimenting with volume.
Sometimes it worked, like in the stout, steel gray, Belle de Jour-type cocktail dress and the variety of tulip sleeves on
simple, striped tops and shift dresses.
Less confident, though, were the drab, slinky silhouettes of unwieldy volumes that overpowered the models wearing them.
Nom*D showed one of the most lucid presentations of the week. Rooted in streetwear with a rock n’ roll edge, designer Margarita
Robertson hit on every beat of the dressed-down trend, with skinny, distressed denim, worn-in pullovers, drippy knits, and
dangling scarves — think Number Nine lite. But it wasn’t all grungy; looking closely, there were also strong, tailored coats and stovepipe dress pants. James
Dobson’s Jimmy D read equally dark, but the beat of this collection had more to do with gloomy ’80s New Wavers than the grunge god of the
’90s. Oversized t-shirts, flowy black dresses, parachute pants, and leggings and tops with circle cutouts defined this quirky
Every city has a marquee streetwear brand, and in New Zealand it’s Huffer, the casualwear go-to for easy pullovers, silk-screened t-shirts, and denim for boys, and cutesy dresses and separates for
girls. The label doesn’t break any new ground, but has established a following strong enough to make its clothes as coveted
as an Abercrombie and Fitch is in America.
Federation is also a formidable brand in the street/casualwear category. It showed its strength in denim, but also served up other crowd
pleasers, such as cashmere cardis and animal-printed t-shirts.
Deborah Sweeney‘s concise presentation was filled with pretty looks, translatable for a host of markets. The Jill Stuart alum didn’t stray far from simple, well-cut frocks, but when she did, she showed dresses with short and long sleeve t-shirts
beneath. Other notables included Cybèle, for its quirky take on the ’80s — think primary-colored dresses and tees with chain prints, worn with leggings and booties
— and Carlson, whose big statement focused on the dress category, from the shirtdress to the cute satin number to the long,
plaid wool version. In the case of Lonely Hearts Club, the brand lived up to its New Romantic-sounding name, showing cape-like
tops with workout gear peeping through from beneath, along with primary-colored accessories, capping off a season and region
steeped in ’80s references.
So how does New Zealand style differ from that of other regions? Besides an extra-dark, experimental gene in the presentations,
Kiwis are accessing the key trends seen on the international catwalks.
Kate Sylvester a/w ’07
Zambesi a/w ’07
Nom*D a/w ’07
Federation a/w ’07
Deborah Sweeney a/w ’07
Cybèle a/w ’07
Lonely Hearts Club a/w ’07