Talking Fashion with Zambesi's Dayne Johnston

By Amanda Linnell

Zambesi's Elisabeth Findlay and Dayne Johnston on the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia earlier this year. Photo / Getty Images
Zambesi's Elisabeth Findlay and Dayne Johnston on the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia earlier this year. Photo / Getty Images

Each day this week Viva editor Amanda Linnell will talk fashion with key people at NZ Fashion Week.


People come and people go, but Zambesi goes on forever at New Zealand Fashion Week. When the iconic label sends its models down the runway tonight, it will be the 13th year in a row that it's been involved in the event.

"We've been a part of Fashion Week since the very beginning," explains Zambesi's menswear designer Dayne Johnston. "We feel it's important to endorse what Fashion Week is working to do for the industry as a whole."

Johnson and Zambesi womenswear designer Liz Findlay, only decided a few weeks ago to put on a runway show for their autumn/winter 2014 collection. "Doing a show gives a collection relevance," says Dayne. "I think it pushes you further as a designer. It gives a collection meaning, feeling and a strong identity.

"The times we haven't done a show, we've always felt afterwards that it's a shame and there's never quite the same emotional realisation of the collection."

"It's good to validate your work and put it on the runway and tell a story and to make it cohesive. It pushes you to your limits because you know you're doing a show, you know that lots of people are coming to look at it. It definitely challenges you more."

It's been a hectic week for the Zambesi team, casting models, finishing garments, completing the seating plan, finalising hair, make-up, music... Once the show is over (and even before), there are meetings with buyers from throughout New Zealand.

"When we are selling to wholesale clients, it helps if they have seen the show, then they've got a buzz about it, they're talking about what they liked - so it all creates a real feeling around it. It's kind of better than doing just a look book. A stagnant look book is great to showcase the clothes, but a show gives it more of an emotional and strong identity."

Once Fashion Week is over, the Zambesi team then hit the road - taking the collection to their showrooms in Sydney and Melbourne and meeting with Australian buyers. "Again, having the photos, the video footage, the press - it helps to tell the story, and people look to it all for inspiration for next season. We play the video in our stores. People are constantly looking at it, it's great publicity for the collection."

* Zambesi shows this evening - check back for runway and front row highlights.

- VIVA

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