Fashion Plate: Michele Hine

By Zoe Walker

Actress Michele Hine talks Twiggy-style nail polish, costumes and buying New Zealand made.

Michele Hine. Photo / Babiche Martens
Michele Hine. Photo / Babiche Martens

Michele Hine is an actress with an extensive CV in theatre and television, and recently played Carol Duff in Go Girls. Next up, the elegant Grey Lynn local will perform in the premiere season of A Thousand Hills, a play based on the real-life survival story of refugee Francois Byamana during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

If I wasn't acting ... I'd go a bit nuts. I feel most stimulated and alive when on the rehearsal floor creating within an ensemble cast. I am lucky that the cast and crew of the two projects I've worked on recently - A Thousand Hills on stage and Go Girls on TV - are such nice people.

The most treasured item in my wardrobe is ... at the moment, a velvet coat by local designer Sharon Steed. I have a few of her garments because she designs and sews for smaller people. Often clothes swim on me so to find someone who creates stylish gear that fits is fantastic. I found her clothes at Romantique on Richmond Rd.

My love for fashion began ... by watching my grandmother.

Red, black and white were her colours and she always looked amazing in stylish, and dramatic, hats coats, dresses and gloves which were always colour co-ordinated.

My style evolution ... made a sudden leap in the early 1970s. I went from mini skirts, multi-coloured platform shoes and Twiggy-style nail-polish and makeup to long hippy dresses, embroidered Tibetan boots and no makeup all in the space of a few months. Being in theatre I've always loved a good "costume" but often couldn't afford labels when I was young, so enjoyed getting creative with vintage gear. I've always kept my grandmother's and mother's jewellery, coats and a few dresses. I've even had clothes made out of fabric from their old garments as the fabrics and designs are so gorgeous and unique. Once I could afford to buy designed clothes I found I still loved fashion that echoed the elegance of the 1940s. A friend called my current wardrobe "quirky classic". I'm ok with that, I guess.

I love New Zealand fashion because ... it's never conformist, always interesting and often a mixture of all the wonderful cultures we have here. When I got back from living in London for seven years I was blown away by how unique the clothes were here and have, wherever possible, bought New Zealand-made from then on. I'm lucky that where I live, in Grey Lynn, I can buy from a number of great shops which stock local designers - Minnie Cooper, Moa, Vanilla Ink, World, Cybele, Widdess, Dalston - all within walking distance. I also love NZ fashion because it's made by New Zealanders and I really want to support our local designers and craftspeople.

My first NZ fashion purchase was ... in 1985. It was a bright turquoise and royal blue silk suit designed by Alison Hutton Design. Shoulder pads jutting high, blue bustier with baggy, checked, high waisted trousers. I hoard good clothes and am old enough now for things to come back in fashion - so the trousers are actually very much back in! All my clothes rotate from my cupboard to the costume rack in my studio, then a few years on, back out again. However many of them go to my daughter who can make them look fantastic, whereas if I wore some of them I'd look like a bag lady. My costume rack is regularly raided by the neighbourhood for parties as I have clothes from every decade since the 1920s (some of my grandmother's).

The designer I respect most ... is Elizabeth Whiting. She is just an incredible costume designer. She has me in a natty little safari suit for the German Red Cross worker I play in A Thousand Hills. She obviously still has such passion for what she does and clearly enjoyed incorporating African designs, colours and garments into this production.

My approach to beauty ... is pretty haphazard. I spent so many years in hippy "natural is beautiful" mode that I've never really got an organised "approach". Cleansing and moisturising is vital, however, especially after stage makeup. Other than that it's done in as short a time as possible, enough to look presentable, before rushing out the door.

The most memorable costume I've ever worn was ... when I played a wheeler in the Disney movie Return to Oz. It was amazing - from the multi-layered suits, that covered us, right down to the wheels on all four limbs, to the head-dress which incorporated a mask so that we could terrify people even when we were "wheeling" forward with our heads down.

If I could have anyone's wardrobe ... it would be my Go Girls character Carol. Designer Sarah Voon calls it "Art Gallery owner" and I often want to just walk off set and take the clothes home.

* A Thousand Hills, October 20-30, Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre. Tickets $28-$35, from 0800 BUY TICKETS .

- NZ Herald

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