Meet the 20 creative leaders making up Fashion Quarterly’s Power List for 2019

20 September 2019
By Fashion Quarterly

Who’s powerful now, and what does that really mean in 2019?

Earlier this year we, in association with Samsung (which makes phones, wearables and tablets that enable busy people to get more things done on the go), selected 20 dynamic Kiwi women who are helping to shape New Zealand’s thriving creative industries. From film to comedy, fashion and the arts, these are the creative leaders – emerging and established, local and global – who have turned their passions into success, and are inspiring change within their chosen communities.


Angela Tiatia (pictured above)
The NZ-born, Sydney-based multimedia artist with Samoan heritage often works with video platforms to put forward conversations around Pacific identity, the body and popular culture. A former model and presenter for local show Tagata Pasifika, Angela’s work is increasingly being recognised here and in Australia. Recently, she was included in Harper’s Bazaar Australia’s Visionary Women special, won Australia’s Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, and last year was the recipient of Creative NZ’s Contemporary Pacific Art Award.


Alice Snedden
The local comedy scene is thriving, and while there may be more visible faces – Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel come to mind – Alice is one of those hardworking and essential talents behind the scenes. The head writer for recent TV3 sitcom Golden Boy previously led the writing rooms for Funny Girls and Jono and Ben, and also hosts her own webseries Bad News and a podcast with close friend Rose (it’s called Boners of the Heart). She’s also part of the core group of funny and influential friends that makes up popular Auckland improv group Snort.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Director Niki Caro, winner of the award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs for the 'Anne with an E' episode 'Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny', poses in the press room during the 70th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 3, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Niki Caro
The New Zealand-born filmmaker, known for writing and directing the iconic 2002 film adaptation of Witi Ihimaera’s novel Whale Rider, is set to have a major year in 2020. At the helm of  Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan, with its $100-million budget, Niki is only the second woman ever to direct a Disney blockbuster. Filmed in China and locally in New Zealand, the film will be released in March. Now living in LA, Niki has worked with stars including Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand, and last year won her first Directors Guild Award.


Kirsten Paisley
The recently appointed director of the much-loved Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has hit the ground running. Previously the deputy director of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra
and director of the Shepparton Art Museum in regional Victoria, Kirsten sees her new role, and new home, as a chance to support New Zealand artists both here and abroad. To her, the gallery should be treated as a national treasure, and she’s working hard to attract more visitors and more funding to our country’s largest art institution.


Grace Stratton
The founder of global fashion movement All is for All, Auckland-based Grace uses her platform to break down barriers in shopping and beyond. Creating an accessible online store, representing a diverse cast of models, consulting brands on how to be more inclusive in their communications, and openly sharing her experience with cerebral palsy and mobility on her personal channels, the winner of the New Zealand Youth Award for Innovation and law and communications student at AUT is fashioning a more inclusive world for everyone.


Coco Solid
With a new season of her hit animated comedy series Aroha Bridge out now, multi-hyphenate powerhouse Coco Solid, also known as Jessica Hansell, continues to explore contemporary Māori and Pacific culture and identity. Last year she released an acclaimed 12-track album Cokes and was awarded the prestigious Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency. Her oeuvre also includes the event Equalise My Vocals to promote gender equality in the local music industry, and she is a member of Piki Films collective too.


Roseanne Liang
A champion of Asian representation, the director and screenwriter has a diverse CV that continues to grow. With a group of friends, Roseanne was an early pioneer of the webseries format, with Flat3 and Friday Night Bites, and drove the success of local romantic comedies My Wedding and Other Secrets and Banana in a Nutshell. Recent projects include upcoming Hollywood film Shadow in the Cloud, with Chloë Grace Moretz, and involvement in the Pan-Asian Screen Collective, which campaigns for diversity on screen and behind the scenes in our local film industry.


Nicole Colovos
Winner of the 2019 International Woolmark Prize, New Zealand-born Nicole is half of the husband-and-wife duo behind New York-based label Colovos. Launched in 2016, the brand is renowned for its high-end sustainable denim and restrained, minimalist design. Before founding Colvos, Nicole and husband Michael spent eight years as co-creative directors at Helmut Lang. Prior to their tenure at the influential brand, their first designer denim line Habitual won the inaugural CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award for emerging designers.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks at Auckland University on October 08, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte is on a one-day visit to Auckland as part of a wider tour of the region. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)


Jacinda Ardern
In 2014, Karen Walker told Viva magazine that people in power “should understand quality and culture because that says something about their standards”. That perspective resonates with our PM, also the minister for arts, culture and heritage. Discreetly championing our local fashion industry, she regularly wears designs from female-led brands Kate Sylvester, Juliette Hogan, Harman Grubiša and more. In August she appeared in British Vogue‘s Forces for Change issue, wearing pieces from London-based Kiwis Emilia Wickstead and Jessica McCormack.


Donielle Brooke
After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 25, the Aucklander began a Facebook group to sell her clothes and help pay the bills. Six years later, and in good health, she has turned Designer Wardrobe into a digital business to watch while helping shape a burgeoning part of our local retail industry. Having raised nearly $2 million in private equity funding, DW’s new-look website and Auckland store have attracted 120K members. As a platform for buying, selling and renting fashion, it has given 17.5 tonnes of clothing a new life this year.


Cat Ruka
Connected within the local arts scene, Cat was named as the new artistic director of local dance festival Tempo in February and has quickly made her mark by securing the likes of Parris Goebel to perform. Her background reflects her inclusive approach, having worked as a teacher at the Manukau Institute of Technology and mentor for youth organisation Ngā Rangatahi Toa. As well as her passion for growing dance in Aotearoa, she’s currently completing her PhD in Decolonial Practices for the Arts.


Gosia Piatek
While the conversation around fashion’s impact on people and our planet gets louder each day, the founder of ethical label Kowtow has been a passionate advocate for sustainability and fashion with compassion from day one. Launching in 2007 with a focus on organic cotton basics, Gosia has quietly but confidently grown her business to offer a full range (denim, knitwear, wool coats, swimwear and more), now sold in over 200 stores worldwide. Living between Wellington and London, Gosia brings a refreshingly intelligent and global perspective to the local fashion industry.


Pietra Brettkelly
The newly awarded Arts Laureate of New Zealand has worked long and hard to get her award-winning documentaries off the intrepid ground. From travelling through Taliban towns to follow Afghan cinephiles as they try to retrieve precious film footage in A Flickering Truth to entering the elite and celebrity-filled world of Chinese couture with designer Guo Pei for Yellow is Forbidden, Pietra will always find a way to tell the stories that interest her most, often with a complex female character at their centre. At last her home country, and its Arts Foundation, are putting her into focus.


Henrietta Harris
From enigmatic portraits to moody landscapes, Henrietta’s works in oil, watercolour and pen have become well known (and much loved) locally and overseas. Working with a sensitive, muted palette, the artist frequently obscures her subjects’ faces or removes them entirely. Many of her subjects are friends and fellow creatives, including Chelsea Jade and Bic Runga. A recent body of work, Hidden People, was informed by a trip to Iceland for the NES Artist Residency. As well as exhibiting, she has created artwork for brands as varied as Karen Walker, Flying Nun Records and Coffee Supreme.


Parris Goebel
This dance pioneer works with some of the world’s biggest stars, including Ciara, Justin Bieber and Sam Smith; not to mention Rihanna, whose Savage x Fenty fashion show she choreographed last year. But it’s Parris’ work in her community at home in South Auckland, with her Palace Dance Studio and organisation Sisters United, that really stands out. Launching the initiative with her two sisters last year, the siblings work with young Māori and Pacific women to help develop confidence. Some will even perform in Parris’ show at the Tempo Dance Festival in October, fittingly titled GIRL.

New Zealand's ballet dancer and first soloist of the Paris Opera Ballet Hannah O'Neill, poses during a photo session in Paris on June 19, 2019. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

Hannah O’Neill
The premiere danseuse of The Opera National de Paris is a world away from her upbringing in Auckland, gaining praise on a global stage for her exquisite performances. While Hannah has won a string of prestigious first-place awards, including the Prix de Lausanne, Youth America Grand Prix and Benois de la Danse, and been invited to perform as an international guest at exclusive galas, the most rewarding part of being a first soloist ballet dancer, is performing for and inspiring others.


Eleanor Catton
The Canadian-born New Zealander is the youngest winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her second novel, The Luminaries. Having worked on a BBC mini-series adaption of her tale, attracting Hollywood stars to film at an Auckland set, Eleanor has signalled her interest in writing more for the screen, while also revealing details about her hotly anticipated new novel. Birnam Wood is said to be a psychological thriller revolving around a US billionaire who has purchased a New Zealand bolt-hole on the eve of a global catastrophe. She’s a storyteller for our times.


Rose Matafeo
The hilariously frank, Billy T Award-winning comedian debuted her hit show Horndog at the 2018 New Zealand Comedy Festival before it went on to win the Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Award and sell out its London run. Having graced local screens in the series Funny Girls, Rose recently appeared on British panel show Have I Got News For You and performed a set on US talk show Conan in May. Next up for the London-based Kiwi: her TV series Star Struck was picked up by BBC Three and, closer to home, she’ll star in upcoming film Baby, Done alongside Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis.


Harriet Were
A tastemaker and talented creative with a passion for craftsmanship and the handmade, Harriet is a quietly significant part of the New Zealand fashion industry and its current aesthetic. Shooting on film and renowned for her sensitive, honest eye, the Auckland-based photographer has created imagery for brands such as Lonely, Stephen Marr, Karen Walker and Paris Georgia – often collaborating with twin sister Carter. Not only found behind the lens, she also works with local makers to create a range of handmade apparel, jewellery and homeware items.


Chelsea Winstanley
Award-winning filmmaker Chelsea produced global hit What We Do in the Shadows, and her films have appeared at the Cannes Film Festival. Committed to telling Māori stories, she produced the 2018 documentary about pioneering director Merata Mita (since picked up by Hollywood director Ava DuVernay), directed a documentary about activist Tame Iti, and was one of women behind acclaimed drama Waru. Outspoken about her own sexual abuse, she has also vocalised experiences of workplace harassment. Her latest project is producing the much anticipated Taika Waititi film Jojo Rabbit.

The Fashion Quarterly Power List is brought to you by Samsung Galaxy. It first appeared in Fashion Quarterly Issue 3 2019.

Photos: Getty Images, Supplied.

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