Working well past midnight is all in a day’s work when NZ Fashion Week is in full swing. Jessica-Belle Greer recaps a whirlwind day that’s keeping her wide-awake.
I wake up excited for the day ahead knowing a few of my favourite labels are showing, and that there will be more designers to discover at emerging showcases throughout the day, but first I just need a little more shut-eye.
My alarm’s snooze button has been hit a few too many times, but I have the ‘fashion week flu’ – which doesn’t mean I’ve been caught up in the rapture of the runways eactly, but that I have an actual cold. I quickly pull on an orange silk Turet Knuefermann shirt to try and look a little brighter, and I pair it with vintage jeans and my beloved Romance Was Born x Beau Coops slides – I know from experience that ditching the heels mid-week is essential when covering a full NZ Fashion Week.
After a quick check-in at the office, I head to Benjamin Alexander’s presentation in the beautiful Quay Project building. Auckland Harbour is sparkling and the sun is shining through the tall windows and falling onto the restored oak floorboards – this is fashion show heaven. As well as being a talented designer (and winner of Project Runway NZ) Benjamin works on the Fashion Quarterly team and we are all feeling very proud as we take our seats. Although this is only his first NZFW show, it was consistent with his considered aesthetic – featuring striking silhouettes, utilitarian-with-a-twist-pieces and dramatic gowns. The man has great taste. I make a mental note to ask to borrow an outfit for my next evening event, pick up a pair of the blue satin Abbey mules from the label’s collaboration with Mi Piaci, and promise myself to try out the model’s holographic eyeliner that, intriguingly, seemed to wink on its own.
After a quick catch-up with industry friends, and an impromptu interview with Fashion Week ambassador Sammy Salsa, I join FQ editor Zoe Walker Ahwa and features director Emma Gleason to head to PR agency Showroom 22 where twenty-seven names’ Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart are in town and showing their new range this week. It’s a calm and collected catch-up as we share our favourite fashion week moments and look through the racks. I have my eye on the voluminous shirting and colourful prints. Anna of Laing Home is also in the studio and I love her summer range of pyjamas, which she gave us a sneak peek of. In particular, I can’t wait to get my hands on a saturated floral print short-set that reminds us of English countryside gardens.
After checking in with digital editor Kelly McAuliffe at the office and eating a baguette in record time at my desk, I’m off to the fashion week’s main venue located at the Auckland Town Hall. I meet creative director Marcel Gull in the concert chamber to see a collection of shows. My highlights are Ruby & Rain’s plus-size collection, which had the audience cheering, and Rhind’s sleek activewear, which is proudly made in Blenheim.
The Graduate Show (with students from NZ Fashion Tech, Otago Polytechnic and Massey University) gets underway in the Runway Tent and I’m impressed by the talent coming through from this new year group of fashion graduates. Furg’s tactile and tonal collection was a standout for me, and I loved the colour and creativity from Johani Louw and Douglas.
Juliette Hogan’s show was held beside her incredibly chic new office space in Morningside – where we were met by a grand piano and a garden of native plants, no less. With a delicious elderflower, cucumber and rosemary refresher in hand, I feel a renewed sense of calm as pianist Gabrielle Peake starts to play a song she composed for the collection. Ten models walk about the artful maze for us to admire their elegant, organic looks in an earthy colour palette. I start to daydream of a zen Juliette Hogan capsule wardrobe where all I wear is silk blouses, sweeping dresses and streamlined tunics.
After a quick change at the office (same shirt, but silver to match my added layers for the evening) we head back to NZFW HQ for Kathryn Wilson’s ‘Heels and the City’ show. Her models really know how to work and play hard – pairs stomp in synchronisation down the runway, while blowing kisses to the crowd and high-fiving each other. I can’t help but shimmy my shoulders a little to the soundtrack too. The Carrie Bradshaw inspired (and jubilantly overblown) hair by Danny Pato and rosette-inspired dresses by made-to-order New Zealand fashion brand Layplan were brilliant – but, of course, the shoes stole the show. I note that disco platforms are back in a big way, as are skinny-heeled ankle boots and metallic for your toes.
The team and I reconvene over dinner on Federal Street where we catch-up on our social media coverage. Emma comments that this is the first proper, sitting-down-at-a-table meal we have eaten all week! It’s a nice respite, but espresso martinis are still in order for us to make it to the final show of the evening, which we have on good authority is running fashionably late.
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We’ve made it to the Avondale Racecourse for Stolen Girlfriend’s Club’s show. I feel like we are walking into a concert, surrounded by a crowd dressed in achingly cool outfits. After the fire barrels in front of our seats are lit-up in a theatrical fashion, the outdoor show begins in a blaze of black, red and studded leather glory. At the end of the show, the sprinklers in the scaffolding are turned on so the models can show off their new Blunt umbrellas, created in collaboration with SGC, and I’m glad I brought my Kate Sylvester mac.
We’ve been playing FQ’s NZ Fashion Week bingo all week and I see Wynn Crawshaw, the designer behind Wynn Hamlyn, is wearing my/his same cable knit jumper and we snap our ‘accidentally twinning’ moment. The team and I warm up by the fire pits for a bit before calling a taxi home. The after-party inside the racecourse room is well underway – red lights, live band – but I want to make a sophisticated breakfast date with emerging label Mina tomorrow morning, followed by another tightly-scheduled day of shows.
I’m in bed at home with my laptop making notes of key looks and trends to remember for feature ideas in our future issues – as well as typing up this very diary. I can finally feel my toes, following an impractical kitten-heel choice for the evening, and I feel fulfilled, as well as very tired, from a full-on day of fashion. I just hope I don’t sleep through my alarm tomorrow/this morning!