As well as the earthquake's human toll, Christchurch's retail heart has been particularly hard hit by the earthquake. Both the Cashel St Mall, which houses damaged department store Ballantynes, and the designer fashion precinct centred around the historic High St area, with its adjacent laneways, cordoned off.
Retailers such as World, where a staff member was lucky to be dragged to safety from a collapsed building, say it will be months before they consider whether to re-establish in the city - and where.
Assistance to Christchurch is coming from businesses big and small, many of whom have staff in the city. The Food and Grocery Council is co-ordinating efforts to ferry supplies in for relief efforts, everything from pallets of water from Coca-Cola to non-perishable food from big food distributors. Johnson & Johnson has sent medical supplies, beauty distributor BDM Grange has sent hand sanitisers and many others are contributing.
The Cosmetic Toiletries and Fragrance Association is biding its time, with one member saying sending a pile of lipsticks at this stage would be inappropriate, but members are keen to chip in later on. L'Oreal has pledged to match donations from staff into a fund it has set up for the Red Cross, with money being deducted voluntarily from the wages of its staff in both New Zealand and Australia.
Many businesses have organised collections with the likes of cafe tip jars going to earthquake relief. Cafe Melba is donating 50c from every cup of coffee sold in its four Auckland cafes this week.
In the coming weeks, community networks will be a valuable way of delivering targeted help. We know of the likes of tennis clubs, schools and individuals who are pulling together to help counterparts in Christchurch so ask around. Person-to-person contributions of good quality items will be most welcome. Women without water will welcome cleansing wipes (nappy wipes are ideal), dry shampoos and basic toiletries.
Happy birthday Gucci
Fashion house Gucci is celebrating 90 years of glamour this year, with a beautiful show at Milan Fashion Week last week inspired by Anjelica Huston in the 1970s and modern-day Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine. It also has a new three-part campaign that reflects the brand's history and traditions, dubbed "Forever Now", featuring original black and white photographs of Gucci artisans at work in Florence, taken in 1953. The campaigns reflect Gucci's history as well as the future, with creative director Frida Giannini saying, "My vision involves a certain stylistic marriage between past, present and future. I am totally committed to Gucci's incredible, nearly 90-year history and its excellence in luxury goods that I can constantly tap into. However, I like to think that my collections blend these traditional values with a very modern perspective of contemporary fashion. That is the real interpretation of 'Forever Now'."
Closer to home Gucci is also celebrating its second year as part of Auckland Cup Week, with the Gucci Sprint race on Auckland Cup Day on March 9, and an exclusive VIP private suite on course. The partnership reflects the brand's long association with the glamour of the equestrian world.
Brand new tees
Check out new local label Keep the Change, dedicated to the humble T-shirt. The label was launched last month by Aucklanders Hans Pronk and Allan Wrath, who create the artwork that appears on the tees. They like things to have a hand-made, DIY feel, printing their own tees with their quirky designs.
Tees are $65, from kthec.bigcartel.com.
We love flats
These shoes are at once sensible and special: perforated lace up brogues that will become a key piece of your autumn wardrobe. They're from Melbourne-based brand Soles; shoes they say are made for stepping, dancing, prancing, running, skipping, kicking and toe-tapping. Soles "full stop" brogue, $184, from Texas Radio, ph (09) 360 8181.
Clever Auckland company The Aromatherapy Company has a new range out for mother and baby. Aroma Newborn and Aroma Mother products are priced from $13 to $25, making them perfect for gift-giving and priced reasonably for regular use. With lavender essential oil and soothing chamomile, the products won't upset the skin's pH balance. Available from Smith & Caughey's and selected gift stores and pharmacies.
Fashion and beauty go together like bras and knickers so it's no surprise that a collaboration between the London College of Fashion and The Body Shop is a good fit. It has led to a limited edition range of cruelty-free, ethically sourced makeup called a Brush with Fashion. Portable products, including cheek and lip tints, and an illuminating face base, come with in-built brushes and there are mascaras and an eye palette. Package illustration is designed by a German student, Katarina Voloder, who won an internal competition. The range is in store now, priced from $25, with a mini brush kit costing $48.