Cool runnings: NZ designers share their winter fashion tips

Nine leading labels share their hottest winter looks ahead of tonight's Viva runway collection at the NZ Fashion Festival.

To buy tickets see iticket.co.nz

Carlson velvet and chantilly lace dress, $599. Dries Van Noten satin beaded clutch, $1450, from Mei Mei. Photo / Babiche Martens
Carlson velvet and chantilly lace dress, $599. Dries Van Noten satin beaded clutch, $1450, from Mei Mei. Photo / Babiche Martens

If you had to put your money on what the key trend for winter is, then grown up glamour is a safe bet. It's about celebrating the feminine, with elegant garments that accentuate the positive with a confident edge.

Tonight, as part of the New Zealand Fashion Festival, the Viva Runway Collection brings together nine leading labels which capture this look each in their own inspiring and individual way. In a show that will open with beautiful singer Annabel Fay, 90 different looks will be modelled on the runway. It's the perfect opportunity to discover the top styles that reflect you as an individual.

Here we talk to the nine design houses about their approach to the winter 2011 fashion season.

TRELISE COOPER

For this winter 2011 collection ... I was inspired by baroque grandeur for the Trelise Cooper range, along with sacred adornments and beautiful stained glass windows, which feature as prints throughout the range.

The Cooper collection is a darker, grungier look with bad girl tones and military inspirations.

I have used silk in many of the Trelise Cooper dresses because it hangs so beautifully on the body, along with wool for sculptural suiting pieces, while there is a lot of leather, denim and cotton in Cooper for a more relaxed, younger look.

Shapes and cuts include ... long hooded dresses, structured jackets with corsetry details and delicate dresses for Trelise Cooper. Most of the Cooper pieces have a tighter, sexy silhouette with skinny jeans, shorts and mini dresses along with vests to layer it all together.

The Cooper girl is ... a tough, confident it-girl while the Trelise Cooper woman is unconventional, quirky, sexy and not afraid to take risks.

This winter I'll be wearing ... I always want to wear every piece. At the moment, however, I am living in the "Tail Gate" coat, the "Bo Bassel" tassel front dress and the Cooper "Biker's Delight" leather jacket.

CARLSON, TANYA CARLSON

This collection came about because ... I had just finished reading The Beautiful Fall - Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris, an amazing book that charts the personal and fashion histories of Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld through the 60s and 70s, and was inspired to create a collection that draws on the elegance, flair and style of not only these two iconic designers, but of French women in general.

I always work with fabrics that have a sensual element, with a luxe texture, and a timeless quality - chantilly lace, wool suiting, cotton velvet, and heavy satin crepes feature this season. The silk prints have a 30s art nouveau, almost bohemian, feel to them and so would be right at home in Rue Saint Germain.

I like to work with silhouettes that juxtapose the masculine and feminine, and this season there is much more emphasis on the waist and shoulder lines than in previous collections - almost evoking the post-war celebration and exaggeration of the feminine shape that was Dior's New Look.

When I design I think about ... myself and my staff - women who lead full, active and varied daily lives. The personality of the Carlson woman is independent, a little headstrong, not driven by the latest dictated fad, but by her own finely tuned personal style - someone who treasures the cherished pieces she has collected over a lifetime - pieces that become more than a dress or a jacket, but evoke the fondest of memories.

This winter I'll be wearing ... the Left Bank Dress - with a pair of killer heels for winter cocktail events, and by day dressed down with the essential Cropped Tuxedo Jacket. To me the combination of sumptuous velvet, with the fragility and romance of chantilly lace featured in the dress is timeless.

Always remember ... the most amazing pieces will never work on anyone if they don't fit properly - for me the perfect fit is critical - this along with sharp tailoring and beautiful fabrics always add up to amazing style. A great cropped tuxedo jacket for example can tie together your entire wardrobe - work-day suiting, to party dresses and weekend wear. Accessories are a great way to stamp your personal style on any ensemble - signature antique earrings or heirloom jewellery, great boots and fabulous bags showcase your individuality.

ANDREA MOORE

My winter collection is ... a celebration of blinding neon, exotic florals and a modern safari look. We recently moved from Wellington to Auckland and this reflects the transition to the urban jungle that is New Zealand's biggest city.

The fabrics I've used include ... wool for structure and beautiful textural drape and body, silks for the lush drape around the body - skimming rather than adding volume - in prints that are stylish and full of character.

The silhouette and shape is all about ... manipulating volume yet keeping it structured, which has been really challenging and fun. I strove for draped yet tailored looks with a military bent. Yet floral themes are still evident, with brilliant digital prints on silks and other signature patterns that are so key for the label. These prints are all about style. They transcend trends to be classics with a home in any woman's closet. Many of the styles are named after key Auckland suppliers, along with streets and key places.

The Andrea Moore customer ... loves individuality and colour. A woman who is in colour will stand out from most women in black. Then it is shape, pattern and overall styling that helps. I recommend clients layer patterns or bold swathes of colour together and then pop it with a contrast tone; and to think about their outfits in a more complex way - right down to the nail polish and jewellery. Our customer is a confident individual who is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. She explores her personality through her clothes, loves colour and loves the use of a bold palette which gives the garments a rich vibrancy and a well-balanced mish mash of striking colour combinations to produce a calculated yet random effect "much like life!" - a quote from a customer.

This winter I will be wearing ... the cape, as this is a great piece of versatility as well as being on trend. It has an amazing presence about it. All that lovely wool either cinched in or swirling about the person - wonderfully dramatic.

My top styling tips are ... do the unexpected. I have a pearl necklace that I wear layered up on my wrist, held back with a turquoise Hermes metal cuff my sister gave me - a great colour combo and textural combo. Our photographer is always looking for that cool shade of nail polish that will pop an outfit unexpectedly. I must say that is one of the differences between here and Wellington - toes are more on show here so one must think carefully about the colour of them and how moisturised they are.

THE CARPENTER'S DAUGHTER, SARAH JANE DUFF

This collection is all about ... feminine wiles. While looking at curvy women of our past, the Edwardian era intrigued me in many different ways. This was a time of change, the beginning of this decade saw women's curves and shape as supreme. The art of "feminine wiles" was used to lure the men and the silhouette embraced feminine shape with luxurious fabrics. Women were finding their voice and later in the decade saw revolutionary change in the loss of the corset and the softening of the silhouette. Looking at these two contrasting references we illustrate this by juxtaposing semi-tailored outer layers and the less structured knit garments with silk velvet, fur and sequin figure-hugging pieces.

The fabrics and shapes that feature include ... sumptuous textures like fur, brocades, sequin, lace and velvets, which add depth to the limited colour pallet. Fabrics were chosen as they are sumptuous and luxurious and sit juxtaposed to the wool suiting and the merino knits. Our winter range explores many different silhouettes, long line/tube and A-line with a emphasis on floor length hem lines. Crop jackets and crop cardigans also feature in the range, creating shape and layers.

When I design I think about ... me and the clothes that I want to wear, what I want in my wardrobe and what flatters the body. Relaxed and effortless, but not careless. For this range we have stepped up the design and focused on being more fashion forward. When I began The Carpenters Daughter 20 years ago I was the customer, now that we are about to turn 21, I want to cater to the next generation.

This winter I'll be wearing ... a crop leopard jacket. I will wear this everywhere. I'll wear it with our lace pants and layer it with tunics.

Always remember ... Proportion is key to every outfit, large accessories work the best.

TK STORE, TURET KNEUFERMANN

As a designer, I find inspiration ... from everything I see and hear, overseas trips, Scandinavian design, architecture and from my inspiring friends and collegues around me. It's important to make clothes that are extremely wearable, yet luxurious and I cut to the silhouette of a woman's body, choosing fabrics that fall to flatter her shape. Every piece is timeless and powerfully feminine.

When it comes to fabric and cut ... I love luxurious, high quality fabrics and spare no expense in this area: I choose fabrics for the impact they have when combined with a basic un-worked shape, the way they look and move and create an understated sense of drama. Luxe soft leather, suedes, shimmering sequins and delicate silks combined with the textures that loose knitted wools and cable knit scarves create feature prominently in the collection.

For winter, voluminous shapes are given a body-conscious fit, highlighting my love for draping and simplicity. Sumptuous silks, fine knits, faux furs and sequins reveal a powerfully feminine ideal. Effortless luxury, relaxed sophistication, clean lines - a uniquely European sensibility .

Women who shop at the TK Store are ... women with joie de vivre - a love for life, beautiful things, and who like to spoil themselves and live in the moment. She is confident, refined but relaxed and knows what she wants. Attractive through her energy and not necessarily her looks, but absolutely has her own identity and personal style, and people are drawn to her.

My favourite piece in the collection is ... the Amulet Dress. Great with heels as a super-elegant statement piece, or with flat sandals and a big shoulder bag for a relaxed, effortless look. Always makes you feel glamorous.

My top styling tip is ... less is more: a well-chosen feature accessory creates a wonderful accent for a clean, well-cut garment and can express your personal style without it looking like you spend all day figuring out what to wear.

YVONNE BENNETTI

This collection was inspired by ... the style icon Jade Jagger. I am fascinated by her life and her glamorous bohemian style. While I was designing I was thinking about how she is independent, confident, strong in character and feminine .

When it comes to the garments ... we develop our own fabrications and design all our own prints. This season I have used cashmere wools in dove grey and khaki green, along with jewel colours in silk velvet and silk sateen leopard prints in fuchsia pink and cobalt blue and French chantilly lace and used ostrich feather and mongolian wool. Our silhouette is a fluid shape. I have not made any dresses ultra fitted this season. They skim the body instead. Our jackets and coats are tailored and nip in at the waist.

My favourite pieces in the collection are ... the biker PVC pants, dove grey cashmere coat with faux fox fur collar and cuffs, military jacket in khaki green, and the black sequin dress with our new black leather ankle boots.

When it comes to fashion I believe... investment pieces are best and you will be able to build a great collection over the years. Accessories do not date if you buy quality pieces and can work to change an outfit instantly.

VANILLA INK, SUSAN DUCKWORTH

The look of the range this season ... emerges from chaos as always, when I heard Celo Green's song Bright Lights Bigger City, I thought that's it! It combines sophistication and grunge, all urban.

The fabrics I choose ... are always for the same reason - good colours, they're inspiring, they feel amazing to the touch and they look as though they have a story to tell. Silhouette is probably my highest priority and they vary; there's some hourglass tailoring and draping, soft blousy draping, and combinations of softness with a slightly mannish silhouette.

This is a collection for ... the New Zealand woman, I think we are very comfortable with not dressing the same way every day and dressing to suit the mood we're in.

I will be wearing ... the Sienna jeans in the new Japanese denim, they're skinny in the leg with a tiny bootcut so you can pull them down over your heels to look super tall and leggy. I love the new Smith pants, pleated at the top and tapering down to a large hem which can be cuffed. I love the Milk Maxi in Rust, sure I can make a maxi work at work, and definitely the bias cut check dress, Georgie Girl, easy to throw on and just too cute. Oh, and our new Italian range of chunky soft knits, can't wait for winter. I'll be wearing all of the above with ridiculous heels to school drop-off, work and the supermarket which is pretty much my territory at the moment.

I'm hearing a lot of people saying ... they don't wear belts because they don't know how, a good belt positioned in different places on your body can double your wardrobe, creating different silhouettes, looks and moods. They are essential. We style people here individually, working out the best shapes, drapes, belting positions and colours for that one person. It's really satisfying to work with one person at a time broadening their horizons.

MAX, buying manager REHIA IHAKA

This season ... we have three design directions, one was more bohemian, the second classic English country looks and the last was about heroines of the 40s. We brought all three threads together and wove a story that was all about a return to classic and timeless looks.

The biggest fabric story ... is what we have done with merino this season. Max is renowned for its merino, and this winter we are moving it to a whole new level by embracing new technology and fashion detailing. By taking merino blends and working them into new concepts such as eyelet fabrications, French terry, satin trims and ruching, each Max merino piece makes a statement of its own.

Defining the waist ... in hourglass shapes is both feminine and romantic, and for the more body conscious, there are pieces that hug the curves and flatter your shape with ruching detail or, as in the workwear collection, in ponti fabrication.

The Max customer ... will love the cool sophistication, understated elegance and grown up sensibility captured so beautifully in femmes fatales such as Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall.

On my shopping list is ... For a show stopping evening look, the Dryden feather jacket is on the top of the list, the feather detail on the lapels is stunning. The Sally high neck coat - camel is huge this season, and with its classic cut it will take you from desk to dinner and into seasons to come. We'll be adding snakeskin to the wardrobe with the Ethan dress. And of course, as the weather cools, I'll be layering with Max merino pieces to beat the chill, topping it all off with a chocolate brown Kiera felt stetson hat.

JULIETTE HOGAN

This winter I was inspired by ... the television series Mad Men and 1950-60s housewives - I love the fashion of that era.

I tend to use natural fabrics ... wools, cottons, silks etc. In terms of the prints, I wanted fabrics that reflected the era mentioned above. You can never go wrong with a good polka dot - we had ours designed especially for us and it possibly is my most favourite fabric ever. I also love the vintage ditzy floral and the cotton/wool blend tweed we have used as well. And this season we have tried leather for the first time ... I love it. The way that it wears is amazing. The overall look is clean and classic but with a hit of mischief.

When I was designing I was ... visualising a demure girl who likes to dip her toes into darker waters. The winter 2011 J Ho girl walks a precarious tightrope between naughty and nice with surprising ease.

My favourite pieces include ... the Merina dress. I love the shape of that dress. the tweed trench, the leather Betty skirt in nude, the hand knit sweaters ... all of it. I'm just waiting on it to get cold enough so I can wear them all.

When it comes to fashion ... in my mind, less is more. The precious little bow belts we have had made work so perfectly with a lot of our pieces. And I love pairing my pretty clothes with nude fishnets and ash Chuck Taylors.

COLOUR CRAZY

M.A.C makeup artists will use this zinging lipstick shade called Full Fuchsia on the models at Viva's Fashion Festival show tonight. A strongly coloured mouth is a key look for winter, and is part of the Pop Classics trend the fashion-favourite brand detailed at its seminar last night. To work the look for everyday, pick your hottest hue from pink, red or orange and keep the rest of your makeup pared back.

The M.A.C team mixed two of its popular colours, Russian Red and Neon Orange, for an intense coral-red runway look. Check out M.A.C's limited edition Stylishly Yours collection for other bright options. Whatever shade suits you best, going bright is a great way to modernise your makeup; just make sure lips are soft and smooth to start with.

* M.A.C lipsticks cost $40 and are available at Smith & Caughey's and the M.A.C stores at St Lukes and Chancery, with the Full Fuchsia lipstick being part of the M.A.C Pro lineup available only at Chancery or ph 0800 MACSHOP.

HAIR HELPERS

TRESemme is the official hair company for Fashion Festival and its team of top stylists will empty many a can of TRESemme Salon Finish Extra Hold Spray this week. This essential styling product helps get hair runway ready, but is equally useful for everyday. Frizz won't take hold, thanks to the spray's humidity resistant formula which keeps flyaways tamed and provides natural hold all day long. Plus the non-sticky, water-free spray gives smooth, flexible control.

The festival is also a chance for a team of young stylists to work alongside fashion industry veterans. The eight-member team was chosen from throughout the country and an extra late entry was allowed from a promising young stylist from quake-stricken Christchurch.

Here's a TRESemme expert's tips to getting the most from your hairspray: Spray hair section by section 10-12 inches away from blow-dried hair (any closer will give you wetness). For stronger hold, layer more coats of spray just where you want more control (resist the temptation to spray in closer, this will leave hair scrunchy).

* A large can of TRESemme Extra Hold spray costs $9.29, with a mini spray available for touch-ups on the go. Find TRESemme, which provides professional solutions without the salon price, in supermarkets, department stores and pharmacies.

Stockists: Akie (09) 360 5477, Andrea Moore (09) 360 9640, Carlson (09) 361 2137, The Carpenter's Daughter (09) 624 1715, Juliette Hogan (09) 360 9347, Max (09) 307 3339, Smith and Caughey (09) 377 4770, TK Store (09) 361 2020, Trelise Cooper (09) 379 5005, Vanilla Ink (09) 630 4544, Yvonne Bennetti (09) 361 2388.

* The Viva Runway Collection is part of the New Zealand Fashion Festival and takes place tonight at Shed Five Speed Shop, Wellesley St, City. Tickets $50 from iticket.co.nz.

- NZ Herald

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