Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Surgeon shares fashion prize

Julia Jack (left), head of product and marketing for Vodafone, and Belinda McKenzie joined Richard Wong She at the fashion show yesterday. Photo / Dean Purcell
Julia Jack (left), head of product and marketing for Vodafone, and Belinda McKenzie joined Richard Wong She at the fashion show yesterday. Photo / Dean Purcell

Richard Wong She is a self-confessed fashion flop but that didn't stop him inviting 80 of his friends and colleagues to a private showing of the latest offerings by Dame Trelise Cooper.

The plastic surgeon chose the fashion-show prize from a Vodafone Christmas draw so he could share it with colleagues at Middlemore Hospital's burns unit.

Mr Wong She has been a plastic, reconstructive and burns surgeon for nine years, leading the National Burn Centre for seven years after a stint in Seattle.

Despite claiming to have no fashion sense, he opted for the fashion event over other prizes because of its broader appeal.

"I work in a public hospital so my team is rather big. I looked at something that would appeal to the maximum number of people and of all the options this was it," Mr Wong She said.

He knows of Dame Trelise's work as a patron of the Breast Cancer Research Trust but had never taken an interest in her fashion designs until last night.

"I am the most fashion-handicapped person you are ever likely to meet so there's a certain degree of irony there," he said.

"I chose a specialty where I could come to work in pyjamas and walk around in pyjamas because that's what scrubs are, right?"

Guests at the private viewing of Dame Trelise's 2014 winter collection, held at the designer's Parnell store, included many of the doctors and nurses in the national burns team, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, and family and friends.

"What this is, is a very unique opportunity for me to say thank you to essentially my extended family.

"The people who as a team, I think, achieve great things, yet when teams do well typically only one person or a small group get the credit. But in fact there is a huge group here," Mr Wong She said.

Belinda McKenzie, who received burns to 60 per cent of her body when she fell asleep reading by candlelight as a 12-year-old, has had years of plastic surgery with Mr Wong She.

One of the most recent operations was to take a piece of Mrs McKenzie's rib and insert it into her nose to help straighten the bridge.

"He's just so amazing," she said. "He's a very clever man."

A seamstress and designer, the 31-year-old mother of one was ecstatic to be invited to see the collection and is a big fan of Dame Trelise.

"It was totally unexpected. It's really cool. I think her designs are amazing."

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- NZ Herald

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