The Diary: Myers joins world class cluster of Kiwi women

Daughter of ill beer baron is in demand on both sides of Atlantic.

Trend-setting fashion designer Laura Myers.
Trend-setting fashion designer Laura Myers.

Move over Emilia Wickstead, there's a new Kiwi designer in London Town. Laura Myers, 34, the younger daughter of billionaire beer baron Sir Douglas Myers, is taking on the fashion world with a new mid-price e-commerce label which the Wall Street Journal describes as "setting itself apart from its trend-chasing peers".

Myers, who grew up in Auckland before attending Brown University in Rhode Island, now calls London home. Last year she set up Atea, a womenswear fashion label based in Knightsbridge but available worldwide via the brand's website.

Myers' aesthetic is simplicity and quality. Her women are not into flash and trinkets, but well-tailored clothes with a pared-back refinement.

"I am always trying to create things that feel relaxed yet elegant and I think I approach things that way because I am a Kiwi," she told The Diary.

Myers returned to New Zealand last month for the wedding of her brother, Campbell, to Audrey Smith at The Church of St John the Baptist in Waimate North. A three-day party followed at the family farm in Matauri Bay where Dave Dobbyn performed in the wool shed.

Sir Douglas is battling terminal bowel cancer and is enjoying a quiet and restful end to the Kiwi summer. He's proud of his daughter for tackling the competitive fashion industry.

"I just spent a month at home and realised how much my perspective on the world is shaped by being a Kiwi. I think having been offshore for so long I had sort of forgotten this," she says.

Wickstead, whose fashion-designer Kiwi mum Angela introduced her to the business, was this week named Red Carpet Designer of the Year in the Elle UK Style Awards, and showcased her latest collection at London Fashion Week.

For Myers, building up a business network took time. She had worked in Auckland, New York and Paris, and moved to the UK where her father, brother and elder sister, Jessica, were living. "When I arrived in London four years ago I knew very few people in the industry. But after following up every lead I did have and cold-calling I slowly built my team."

She saw a gap in the market "for a collection of wardrobe essentials combining beautiful fabrics with thoughtful, timeless design at a price-point above the high street and below designer". The Journal says it's this vision that sets Myers' brand apart.

Actress Leelee Sobieski, a favourite of Karl Lagerfeld, is a fan of Atea - so, too, are the editors.

Myers has been approached by department stores and boutiques on both sides of the Atlantic and will now make the label available for wholesale and retail.

Lorde, a fan of the minimalist aesthetic, too, took to the stage at the Brits in London wearing a black sheath and was awarded the best International Female Solo Artists gong. It's Kiwi women like Myers, Wickstead, Lorde, Lydia Ko and Eleanor Catton who are quietly achieving in their fields and stripping back the view that there's more to this country than hobbits, hikoi and sports hubris.

10 questions of the week

1 Which left-leaning commentator is under the spotlight for allegations of insurance fraud?

2 Which troubled Labour MP is said to be facing a challenge to his or her seat?

3 Which glitzy harbourside eatery did American rapper Eminem and his 14-strong entourage dine at last week - twice? Euro, co-owner Simon Gault told The Diary. In the private dining room, and they were terribly well-behaved.

4 Which poverty-screaming politician is secretly a member of the exclusive Pullman Spa and Gym?

5 Is it time for the ostrich to lift his head out of the sand? Four months on from his public apology and Mayor Len Brown is still facing discontent. He received a cacophony of booing at the NRL Nines, got quacked by duck callers at the opening of the Lantern Festival, and has been told to stay away from a community military event this weekend for fear he will attract protesters. As the city is trying to drive its major events programme, perhaps the council should look at using its Auckland ambassador and councillor Sir John Walker a bit more to positively represent it at high-profile events. The mayor needs to acknowledge things have changed and he's probably no longer the best face to promote Auckland and the council.

6 Chrissy Teigen, the leggy Sports Illustrated mannequin in Air NZ's new safety in paradise video filmed in Rarotonga, can't even swim and hates sand.

7 Who's more popular: Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum or Barack Obama? The triple century scorer, says Prime Minister John Key. "The picture of me and Brendon in the changing room has had over 250,000 views. More views than the 234,000 of me with Obama."

Clicks on Brendon McCullum's Key post have bowled the Key-Obama post.
Clicks on Brendon McCullum's Key post have bowled the Key-Obama post.

8 Is the Keyster channelling Harry Potter? His new black-rimmed hipster glasses drew quite the comments on Wednesday, with 3 News gallery hack Paddy Gower suggesting they're part of a campaign to get the urbane vote ahead of the Internet Party. Key says "they're just a step up from the easy readers".

9 Which artist is Dick Frizzell referring to when he appears in ED on an upcoming episode of Shortland Street? That'll be Van Gogh. Frizzell goes to hospital with an injury to his ear. Geddit? He's a big fan of the soap and was on set for the first episode in 1992. He created a limited edition Shortland Street artwork which he signed and gave to each cast and crew member. And two art works, signed by the entire cast, will be auctioned to raise money for Paw Justice, a charity Frizzell supports.

Dick Frizzell gets a check-up from Shortland Street's Dr Chris Warner.
Dick Frizzell gets a check-up from Shortland Street's Dr Chris Warner.

10 Who, like me, has ab envy? The Black Sticks finished their tour with a 2-1 win against USA in San Diego this week. Richie McCaw's girlfriend Gemma Flynn skedaddled to Hawaii with pals Anita Punt and Emily Naylor to celebrate. We wish they'd put some clothes on. Those bronzed six-packs are awful.

Gemma Flynn, Anita Punt and Emily Naylor flaunt their abs in Hawaii.
Gemma Flynn, Anita Punt and Emily Naylor flaunt their abs in Hawaii.

- NZ Herald

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