Family Ties

Three women with New Zealand connections made their presence felt at Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week (MBFWA) in Sydney recently…


KeilanaSkye shoes

Although no kiwi labels showed at MBFWA this year, you didn’t have to dig too deep to find some New Zealanders and some NZ ties at the Spring/Summer 2012/13 event held at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal earlier this month.

Johanna Johnson held one of the glitziest shows of the week, presented by Mercedes-Benz and complete with a gold runway which struck fear into models’ hearts – the slip factor!  Thankfully all heels remained firmly upright and the show was a seamless extravaganza of ‘20s inspired, high-glamour gowns.


Johanna Johnson MBFWA 2012

Johnson was born in Christchurch and lived in New Zealand until 1989, when she moved to Melbourne to study graphic design. Difficulty sourcing her own wedding dress lead her to develop the concept for her bridal and eveningwear label, and she opened her first store in Paddington, Sydney in 2005.  When Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks wore a Johanna Johnson gown to the Emmy awards, Johnson shot to international fame.  She now counts Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, Emily Blunt and Minnie Driver among those who call for her red carpet gowns.

Still working on her own international business is Napier-born and raised Candy Maaka-Stoten, with her KeilanaSkye shoe label.  On leaving high school in 2001, Candy moved to Sydney and designed clothing for a while, before realising that her real passion lay in shoes.


Candy Maaka-Stoten

Imagery Julie Roulston/Sony NEX

2012 finds the designer in her third year in the footwear business, retailing via three stockists and her own online store.  Last year Candy dressed the Top 20 Australia’s Next Top Model contestants in her shoes, and MBFWA 12 saw her showing her Summer 21/13 collection from the swanky Shangri-La Hotel in the Rocks, as part of the event’s official group of exhibitors.

The range is impressive, with a patent leopard a standout in all heel types, alongside remarkably pretty flats – all beautifully detailed.

The final New Zealand connection was Collette Dinnigan.  Dinnigan was named Australian Fashion Laureate 2012 as voted by a panel of her industry peers – following on the heels of Carla Zampatti, Akira Isogawa, Easton Pearson and Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock.  The award recognises outstanding creative or intellectual achievement in the Australian fashion industry, on a global scale.


Collette Dinnigan, Australian Fashion Laureate 2012

Imagery Julie Roulston/Sony NEX

South African born, Dinnigan was raised in New Zealand and studied fashion design at Wellington Polytechnic (now part of Massey University), completing a certificate in clothing and textiles in 1984.

These days she shows at Paris Fashion Week (she was the first ever Australian designer to launch a Ready-to-Wear collection in Paris) and her ranges are stocked in 145 stores in Britain, Europe, Russia, the United States, Japan and the Middle East.

Dinnigan was effusive in thanking her team on receipt of the award – we’ll give that the reverse pavlova treatment, and take it as typically kiwi.

– Julie Roulston

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