FREE|STYLE with Julie Roulston #11



Ruby backstage NZFW 2011

Image: Sam Lee


Seem’s there’s nothing like a New Zealand Fashion Week Designer Announcement to inspire headlines of the hysterical/silly variety.  “‘DESIGNER’ TURNS BACK ON NZ FASHION WEEK” blurts one of the Sunday papers, following less-than-freshly on their 2011 headline “Designers Avoid NZ Fashion Week.”  “NORTHERNERS RULE FASHION WEEK” claims an Auckland (surprise!) publication in its own private epiphany.

Let’s separate the fact from the mischievous and/or under-informed.

There are 40 designers on the New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) 2012 schedule, participating in 20 shows.  Yes, 20 – want to argue that our country is still lurching to its feet post the GFC, anyone?


Zambesi backstage, NZFW 2011

Image: Sam Lee


Zambesi and Trelise Cooper will show for the 12th consecutive year, continuing their run as the only designers who have shown at every New Zealand Fashion Week, since its inception.


Other big names Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, WORLD and Nom*D are not showing in 2012.  In the instance of the first three, this is not without precedent – none of them show every year.  It was hoped that Nom*D’s non-participation in 2011 was a once-off but sadly the brand won’t be on the NZFW runway this September, either.   Designer Margarita Robertson says “New Zealand Fashion Week of course has been a wonderful platform for our brand since its inception, but in the last few years sponsorship has been increasingly difficult to raise…We have loved being part of the event and feel we did bring an expectation of difference to the week, not always understood, but loved by many.  If by some chance we do receive some support in the way of sponsorship we will definitely be showing.  NOM*D Winter 2013 is  being created in Dunedin as we speak!”


Company of Strangers 2011


It’s perhaps ironic that Company of Strangers designer Sarah Aspinall worked for NOM*D before launching her own label – she is showing at New Zealand Fashion Week for the first time this year, stepping straight into the solo show platform.  Aspinall says “I really wanted to do it last year, but simply didn't have the time and resources.  I was being careful to build a solid foundation and make sure we could cope with further growth.  Company of Strangers has been around for four years now, and I really want to show the aesthetic and complete vision of the brand to our customers.  Also, I like to keep busy, I figured a 3 month old baby and 4 labels weren't enough already!”  As a result of showing at NZFW, the designer hopes “to lift our profile and build up our following.  It is amazingly strong in the South Island especially, but we would love more presence in the North Island.  Also, Asia is on my hit list,” she says.


Absent from the 2012 schedule, Helen Cherry and WORKSHOP blew many away with their big show at the Auckland Town Hall last year, but that was just the 3rd time the label had shown since NZFW began.  It’s my understanding the company prefers to resurface every few years on a major scale, rather than show each year in a more moderate way.


Cybèle didn’t show at NZFW last year – one of the very few times she hasn’t since her first outing in the New Generation show in 2003.  Designer Cybèle Wiren is back for 2012.  “Fashion Week  has consistently been the most important (not to mention most fun, exciting, hectic) date in our calendar. Lat year I made the decision not to show because my second child was due to be born three weeks later and I knew I didn't need the stress! This year it's a different story, and I can't wait for the pressure and adrenalin to pile on!”


Image: Julie Roulston/Sony NEX


Cybèle’s Ciel PR stablemate Jimmy D will not show this September.  “I'm a real supporter of New Zealand Fashion Week and it's been a great platform for the label over the years, but it's just the right time to take a break.  A fashion week show is an all-consuming experience, and I'm taking time out from showing to focus on other aspects of my business, including travelling to London and Paris to buy for Children of Vision, and then revealing the Jimmy D AW 13 collection a little later after I return.”


Media darlings twenty seven names will re-up to the runway, as opposed to last year’s off-site installation.  Sponsored by ghd, their show with Ingrid Starnes will be the second in Showroom 22’s Blue Skies concept – as launched earlier this year with a Summer 12/13  event.  Showroom 22’s Murray Bevan says “the format was so popular that we thought it would be worth re-creating for NZFW if the designer fit was right.”  Ingrid Starnes’ Simon Pound is most positive.  “We love what (twenty seven names) do and jumped at the chance. By sharing it becomes a possibility in terms of both a time and financial commitment, and we love to collaborate to do cool things.”


I asked Simon what had driven Ingrid Starnes to return to NZFW after last year’s debut.  “We found NZFW 2011 to be a great experience,” he replied.  It lifted awareness of the label…It's basically just a beautiful way to realise the overall story of a collection.  This year we're really looking forward to being able to show what is a very exciting range. Doing a show serves to support our wonderful stockists around the country and we love that more women come to visit the stores we share with Tessuti having seen coverage around the place.”


Juliette Hogan NZFW 2011

Image: Nikau Hindin


Juliette Hogan, Ruby and Liam, Hailwood, Stolen Girlfriends Club and Huffer will all lend their considerable weight to the 2012 schedule, and Wellington designer Deryn Schmidt steps up, doing her first solo show after last year’s NZFW debut in the New Generation show.  Andrea Moore is using Showroom 22 to PR and wrangle her show for the first time – bodes well. On the downside, Salasai is not following up on its sensational 2011 show – I wasn’t able to reach designer Kirsha Whitcher for comment but the fact that the label has moved its base to Perth may factor.



Image: Julie Roulston/Sony NEX


There’s no escaping the fact that we are a small country and our Fashion Week schedule will always have a little bit of the commercial and a little bit of the less-relevant fringe, to make up numbers.  But for fashion lovers looking for credible newness – Silence Was already has 10 stockists nationwide (they’ll be participating in the New Generation show), and Surface Too Deep’s swimwear – magically both nostalgic and directional – is bound to make great runway in the Miromoda show. Personally, I'm not seeing a lot of back-turning; just business people making responsible financial decisions, and an event management company that can pull together a credible event in a challenging economy.

– Julie Roulston

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