Behind the scenes news from NZ Fashion Week 2012

By Zoe Walker

Zambesi at New Zealand Fashion Week. Photo / Babiche Martens
Zambesi at New Zealand Fashion Week. Photo / Babiche Martens

* It was a night of fun and tequila at the Huffer party and show on Friday night. But wait, controversy! Someone stole the sculptured cactus artworks by Priscilla Hunter that were on display.

* Not all designers are about partying into the night to celebrate: Twenty-seven Names' Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart celebrated wrapping up their great show by watching the The Block, tweeting a delightfully sarcastic: "Look out - the party label of the NZ fashion scene celebrates wrapping up their show by watching The Block. She's been a big night."

* There's only one thing fashion people love more than free alcohol, and that's free coffee. Two very big enthusiastic thumbs up to Ingrid Starnes, who organised Atomic Coffee Roasters to serve coffee at her morning show. Also appreciated: drinks from Six Barrel Soda, friends of Twenty-seven Names.

* Acknowledgement must also be given to the goodies at Ruby and Liam; one of the best of the week - a copy of a Penguin classic book, including Great Expectations and Jane Eyre, a wee corsage from Sugar Snap and pastel marshmallows from Bluebells Bakery. Adorable. Juliette Hogan's bag of muesli, from her Ddd's venture, Grandpa BB's muesli, was also very sweet.

* Sign of the times: A dedicated bloggers area inside the venue, and a media "room" relegated to a rocking boat docked by the venue. By the end of the week, many had jumped ship due to sea-sickness.

* Sign of the times #2: The stereotype of NZFW is of a week of champagne and parties. Well, that's kind of true: in the past the week was much socially lubricated by alcohol sponsorship. But not this year. Stolen Girlfriends Club's Thursday night show was the first that really had the "buzz" of a Fashion Week show, no doubt enhanced by the free alcohol (the 1200-strong crowd probably helped too). One delegate from New York commented that most people were going straight back to their hotel rooms after shows, rather than partying into the night.

* Sign of the times #3: In most runway images you'll spot most people in the front row looking down at their phones, desperately tweeting and Instagramming photos. It's a shame, as watching a show through a screen, whether a phone or camera, is different to sitting there and taking in all the elements. One stylist I spoke to was horrified when she found herself watching a show through someone's tablet. Social media was an issue backstage too: some were disgruntled that people were posting images of the collections from backstage before they were shown. At one point it felt like there were more photographers than models backstage. This was probably the most visually covered Fashion Week we have had. I'm unsure as to whether this is a good or bad thing: is it quantity over quality?

* There was a lot of talk and debate over the future of the event, as there seems to be every year, but the whispers have become roars. Viva hopes that it continues. Though the Old Guard was largely unrepresented - Trelise Cooper and Zambesi were the only two really "big" names - the week did feel like a stepping-up of the future of NZ fashion. Our fashion industry isn't just made up of World, Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester et al, and for the likes of Stolen Girlfriends Club, Juliette Hogan or Ingrid Starnes, Fashion Week is relevant. It did, admittedly, feel a little flat, but that's a reflection of the local fashion industry right now: everyone is producing very commercial collections that people will buy.

What's the solution? Designers shouldn't be afraid to edit, and do smaller shows with a smaller guest list. The Twenty-seven Names and Ingrid Starnes presentation was small, but lovely. I'd also like to see some young designers - recent graduates or those newer than those who I now consider to be the "New Guard" - stirring the pot a little and doing small, off-schedule shows.

- NZ Herald

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