Fashion walking a wine line

Fashion and wine have always gone hand in hand, but these days the relationship is increasingly viable for both.

A glass of red thrown in the face of gossip queen Bridget Saunders at a past New Zealand Fashion Week may be one of the more striking ensembles of wine and fashion. However, recent years have also seen the two become more positively connected, with cross-industry collaboration currently taking fashion to the wine labels and the wine labels to the catwalks.

Fashion designers have increasingly been employed to shape the look of a number of high-profile wine labels: from the figure-hugging, corset-clad Piper-Heidsieck Champagne bottle dressed by Jean-Paul Gaultier to Veuve Clicquot's La Grande Dame draped in Emilio Pucci.

This year jewellery designer and rock star offspring Jade Jagger ventured into the traditional and largely visually conservative region of Bordeaux. Following the success of her revamp of Guerlain's Shalimar perfume bottle, Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou got her on board to revamp their second label wine.

Another recent unveiling was new wine label for the 2009 vintage of Bordeaux's Chateau Rauzan-Segla, designed by Karl Lagerfeld for the property's 350th anniversary. The fashion/wine connection for both these two luxury-associated names is strong: Rauzan-Segla is currently owned by the fashion house of Chanel, while Lagerfeld has already worked with prestige cuvee Champagne Dom Perignon, on a campaign for its Oenotheque Vintage 1993, for which he recreated the bol-sein (literally "bosom bowl"), modelled on the attributes of the champagne house's adopted model, Claudia Schiffer.

With their high-end associations, champagne and fashion have unsurprisingly been hand in glove for some time now. However, there are some less likely partnerships that have turned heads in recent years, such as the hook-up between the designers Basso & Brooke and American wine giant, E&J Gallo. The British duo, known in the past for their controversial use of pornographic images on their digitally printed fabrics, were appointed designers-in-residence for spring/summer 2010 to the mainstream Californian Turning Leaf brand.

Here in New Zealand, Trelise Cooper and Marisco Vineyards got together to produce, the joint venture wine, Entente. This initiative grew from the Marisco label, The Ned having sponsored Cooper for some years, before deciding the synergies between their alliance of fashion and wine could result in something potentially exciting.

"I think wine and fashion go hand in hand - just as fashion is all about the creation, so is wine," explains Marisco's sales and marketing manager, Siobhan Wilson.

"On another level wine is fashion: we have a wide range of consumers who like to be seen drinking the 'in' wine of the moment whether it be a variety or label."

In the case of Entente, the wine came first, an unusual aromatic blend of viognier, chardonnay gewurztraminer, pinot gris and riesling, which Wilson identified as "the perfect match to Trelise and her style of design".

Cooper went for a characteristically French style in Entente's label artwork, which was inspired by the ornate cover of some 1930s French sheet music. Marisco's own graphic designer, Chris Thompson, then went on to work the flavours of the wine into Cooper's design, adding hand-drawn fruits, such as the pears and peaches that can be detected in the wine.

Another heavily fashion influenced local wine label is Soho, which takes it's the inspiration for its "contemporary, stylish and a little risque" style from fashion designer, Tom Ford. It's named some of its wines after designers, which include the McQueen pinot noir in homage to the late British couturier, Alexander; a Valentino Syrah, after the Italian designer, Stella Sauvignon Blanc after Ms McCartney and Westwood Rose as a tribute to the punk doyenne of British fashion, Vivienne.

"Each wine varietal reflects the designer, their personality and style," explains fashion forward, Soho boss, Rachael Carter.

Some fashion names have even gone so far down the wine path that they've launched their own wine ranges. One of these is the designer and entrepreneur Christian Audigier, who, after popularising the likes of trucker caps at Von Dutch, established his own champagne and wine range. It comes as little surprise that Audigier has taken packaging to a new level with his own wines, which sport his stunning tattoo-inspired art.

The owner of the jean giant Diesel, Renzo Rosso has also turned his hand from textiles to winemaking after purchasing a 100ha estate in Italy's Veneto region. From this, he's released a chardonnay, merlot/cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir under the Diesel Farm label.

Unfortunately for us here in New Zealander, the Audigier and Diesel Farm wines are not currently available in the country.

Wine on the catwalks

Wine is not just being seen in glasses at today's high-profile fashion events either. As well as being the official champagne for London Fashion Week and associated with fashion weeks including ours in New Zealand, a brand such as Moet & Chandon - already from the same stable as Louis Vuitton - has actively celebrated fashion through its annual fashion tribute. Past years have seen this dedicated to the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson.

At fashion weeks throughout the world, wine as well as champagne is starting to move more to centre stage. At one of Spain's fashion weeks a few years back, top international designers selected 11 wineries to inspire their new lines of clothing.

Here in New Zealand, marketing manager for the local Kim Crawford label Nina Stojnic thinks there are many crossovers between the country's style scene and wine. This is something that's seen label support local designers such as Huffer, Kathryn Wilson and Stolen Girlfriends Club and informed its decision to be the official wine of this year's New Zealand Fashion Week, following on from being an official wine partner in New York Fashion Week earlier this year.

"Kim Crawford Wines has always celebrated personal style and inspirational people that help shape our ideas and that's why partnering with New Zealand Fashion Week was natural fit," explains Stojnic.

"Self-belief, vision and perseverance are also core to the Kim Crawford brand, values synonymous with the New Zealand fashion industry, which is full of people who have overcome adversity, taken risks and challenged themselves and because of this found success both here and abroad."

Stojnic was keen that the Kim Crawford wines were not only enjoyed by fashionistas at the event, but to see the label engage more widely with fashion fans. This led to the brand launching its competition in conjunction with Viva and style bloggers Four Eyes to find New Zealand's most stylish person.

So put on your glad rags and raise your glasses to more stylish and scrumptious associations.

- NZ Herald

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