Elizabeth Findlay leading the finale for Zambesi NZFW 2019. Image by Getty Images.
I found some notes I had written to myself when reviewing Zambesi years ago, and I was fascinated how much the observations I made about that year’s collection is true of the current collection. Not in the same-ness of the collections side by side but because the “hand writing” through the collection is the same. It is the same strong hands that handle every season/collection – and is the same with the first collection and is the same for this collection that marks 40 years of designing in the New Zealand fashion landscape.
I wrote that Zambesi were “uniquely consistent and consistently unique” I’m not sure if I had seen that written somewhere else or whether I thought of it myself (I doubt it to be fair) – but it’s very, very true of them. I had made a note for myself that Zambesi don’t have a “theme” for each collection, it just becomes a full formed collection once all the right pieces are in place.
Those pieces are always the fabrics first – with textures and a good ‘handle’ to them. This collection had beautiful mohair and wools, felts and velvets. Faux furs where scattered through the collection in jackets, a sleeveless jerkin and even a hooded sweatshirt.
The tailored aspect of Zambesi was particularly strong with this collection with suits and jackets, floor length sleeveless dresses in aforementioned velvet (my favourite piece of the night) but also in black, shot with silver.
Silver often appears in Zambesi collections – and in this collection is arrived in a brocade flower detail mixed with a deep warm brown. Colour is always present (though we always assume it’s always about the black) – just in more subtle ways. Chocolate brown coats mixed with lilac ruffle shirts. Incredibly soft eggshell blue pants suit. Suit pants were mixed with black jackets and brown boots….
The accessories are always key with Zambesi and for this collection they partnered with RM Williams who supplied the boots. Perfect black boots mixed with dresses and knee length Zambesi socks, chocolate brown boots paired with perfect evening dresses with gold detailing.
I always love the styling with these shows and this collection knitwear was worn backwards, suits where worn inside out with the fabulous silver/white iridescent lining looking so perfect as “outer wear”. Dresses were worn falling off the shoulder, jackets where belted to the body in usual positions.
There is always a nod to previous garments from older collections that are so perfect and so loved by clients that they reappear in different fabrics and lengths. This collection I’m sure I spied the Ballerina dress which was from their 2008 collection. Still as beautiful and current 11 years later.
The models (so many familiar faces from many past years of Zambesi shows) were looking suitably bored as they moved up and down the escalators at Auckland City’s Public Library. Starting on the second floor they moved down to the first and the onto ground level where the walked amongst the books. Then to travel back up to the second floor. All the while checking their phones, carrying books, waving to the crowd and smiling to themselves.
The hair and makeup where amazing with architectural beehives on both the women (and some of the men) with a severe eye detail what just worked together so well.
It felt like an amazing celebration (even with tomorrows retrospective to follow), with so many familiar faces walking for Zambesi and so very many supports and clients gathered in the space. They don’t call us #zamfam for nothing.
Soundtrack: Wishful Beginnings – David Bowie, Just like Love – Perfume Genius, I Am A Very Rude Person – Thom Yorke and Choir – Perfume Genius.
Images by Getty Images.