VIPs fly in for Fashion Week

By Celeste Gorrell Anstiss

North Shore commerce student Elena Bluhm from Nova Models tries out Andrea Moore's 'high-casual' look. Photo / Janna Dixon
North Shore commerce student Elena Bluhm from Nova Models tries out Andrea Moore's 'high-casual' look. Photo / Janna Dixon

Fashion blogger Alex Catarinella arrives in New Zealand next week, looking forward to writing about NZ Fashion Week, but also excited about following in the footsteps of his childhood idol - Xena, Warrior Princess.

Fashion Week promoters are touting Catarinella as a representative of the authoritative Huffington Post but the freelance writer says he's more likely to file for the niche New York publication Paper Mag.

"I'm not too sure if Huffington is going to cover it," he said. "I'm just coming along for the ride."

Catarinella will fly first-class from New York with friend Yale Breslin, 24, the force behind Jay Z's new website Life and Times.

London blogger Yvan Rodic, 34, says a "Twitter miracle" is bringing him to New Zealand; he was approached by organisers after a fan tweeted they wished he was coming.

The Americans and Brits will be joined by 22-year-old Australian Nicole Warne, who blogs and sells vintage clothes online.

"I see myself as a personal style blogger more than a fashion journalist," says Warne, who is planning to compile a guide to shopping in Auckland.

Warne and Emily Fang, another Australia blogger, will stay for only the first day-and-a-half of Fashion Week - before flying out to the Big Apple, where she says they hope to wangle access to New York Fashion Week.

Also among the VIP delegates are buyers from Hong Kong, New York and Sydney's Paul Maloney Fashion Agency and Australian department store David Jones.

Tourism NZ and Auckland Council's Tourism, Events and Economic Development are contributing about $35,000 to shout a group of journalists and buyers a trip down under.

New York-based Kiwi Gala Darling, 27, whose blog attracts thousands of hits every day, will be one of those on the trip.

Darling says she is excited to get a trip home to Wellington, and to get the chance to see the Zambesi, Trelise Cooper, Stolen Girlfriends Club and World Fashion Week shows.

The final of NZ's Next Top Model will be broadcast live from the World show.

The lineup of media has divided New Zealand designers, who pay tens of thousands of dollars to show their wares at Fashion Week.

World designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet says she has not invited any of the bloggers from the international VIPs list to her show.

"They come down here and have a great time and then they go home and that's the last you ever hear from them ... I'm not going to bump a New Zealander who's supported me over the past few years off their seat."

But Stolen Girlfriends Club designer Dan Gosling says mentions on popular blogs often result in a huge spike in traffic on their website.

"The results are immediate. The number of hits some of these blogs get is quite phenomenal," he says.

KIWI STYLE TURNS HEADS

No longer are we known just as a nation of Swanndri-wearing, gumboot-clad sheep farmers: Kiwi designers are creating an international stir with their "high-casual" designs.

The look, a cousin of "smart-casual", can take its wearer from the school drop-off to a client meeting to evening drinks at a trendy bar. The clothes are practical too - easy to wash and comfortable to wear.

Auckland designer and mother-of-two Andrea Moore said bright tunics, tailored denim jackets and pants that tapered at the ankle were key.

"It's about looking well-groomed but not wearing a party dress," she said.

Fashion Industry NZ executive officer Mapihi Opai said international buyers at Fashion Week were drawn to New Zealand's take on high-casual.

- Herald on Sunday

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