Designer Trelise Cooper. Image by James Yang.
Beloved designer Trelise Cooper is returning to New Zealand Fashion Week next week after a four year hiatus, during which she wowed audiences with her ‘Theatre of Fashion’ shows. The designer is known for her theatrical approach to runway shows and there is a great deal of excitement surrounding her return to NZFW. For many years Trelise did back to back full-scale shows that were impressive for their high production values as well as their mesmerising collections.
This year Trelise is returning with a different approach and we caught up with the designer to find out more about what prompted her return and what we can expect from one of the most hotly anticipated shows on the NZFW 2018 schedule.
Can you tell us what’s behind your return to the NZ Fashion Week runway this year?
We have a few reasons for returning to NZFW this year. One of the reasons was to do it instead of our Theatre of Fashion which was a four day event. We did that because we wanted to show in season and fashion week was only about showing next year’s winter season at that time. We felt our shows were attended by people who wanted to buy now and because of social media and the way ecommerce works people are much more aligned to shopping now. So it gave us a bigger opportunity to show Spring/Summer which is our longer season. We don‘t usually get to show it on a runway.
We used to have another issue with getting enough seating for enough people to come to the show at fashion week. By doing the Theatre of Fashion over four nights we managed to fit in everyone so we didn’t have to say no to anyone.
Another reason was the timing of the season. We are selling our Pre-Fall /Winter collections now as well as putting on a big show. To put a show on top of one of the most important weeks of the year is quite stressful. By doing Theatre of Fashion we were taking the show side away and focusing on the selling side while everyone is in Auckland. Now that we’re doing it again we’re reminded of what a huge undertaking is to do both. We’re dealing with a whole lot of logistics.
We do 16 collections a year. I was at the Alexander McQueen movie recently and he was complaining about doing ten collections a year and I get it. It’s a lot of work.
So we said this year, why don’t we do just one night and do just two shows like we used to do and we know we won’t have quite as much seating. We like fashion week and so we can always construct it around showing what we want to show. It will be Spring/Summer and a peek of Pre-Fall. The fashion week team are really easy to work with and there are a lot of reasons to come back.
Looks from Trelise Cooper’s new Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
What can we expect from this NZFW show?
We’re going to run this one in a different way because we’re using both rooms at fashion week so we’re doing a double runway. Normally we have a little break in between each range – this time we’re going to show a touch of each brand and it will be one continuous show and there will be no gaps. We won’t have as much theatre but there will still be theatre. We’ve gone for something a bit unexpected but we’re sure people will enjoy it.
It will be highlights of Spring, Summer and Pre-Fall because we don’t want people there for three hours! Three seasons and three labels (Trelise Cooper, Cooper by Trelise Cooper and COOP) is a lot.
How has social media changed how you present shows and how do you feel about it?
I like it and I think it’s an important part of the show. It used to be rude to get out your phone and now it’s important. We have that in mind when we’re producing the show. A lot of our retailers are very active on Instagram which is great because they’re traditional retailers. It’s such an important part of the fashion industry these days as it’s important to be using it all the time. It’s great for us to be producing content for them to use on their feeds. What has changed is that instantaneous feed in as far as international business goes has meant that once we did international business we would send them the collection that had sold in NZ and Australia, now we don’t do that as it’s already been visible online for six months. We couldn’t do another 16 collections so we try and make things that work for the Northern Hemisphere as well.
What do you enjoy most about fashion week?
I get the opportunity to show the collection how I see it. What I mean by that is we make selling books and we do lookbook shoots and they are what our customers use and it’s great collateral. But what I can do is show the looks in a more runway vibe than a commercial this goes with that vibe. I get a bit more creative freedom on the runway. Just a little bit more theatre, the makeup can be more over the top and hair. It allows the hair and makeup teams to have that creative edge. I always try and keep relatability in the runway shows. I can also mix up all of the looks whereas the lookbooks are always about the stories and looks together. Once we get the video and photos from the show we can introduce it to people in a way they might not have thought of.