Designer, fashion historian and the founder of the New Zealand Fashion Museum Doris de Pont steps into the Canvas Confession Box
You say shoes are your weakness. What sort?
All sorts of shoes, wearable shoes primarily - they have to be comfortable. I like something that's a bit unusual, with an unusual colour or pattern. My favourite is a boot with cutaways. It's got a closed toe and then it's got strapping across the top like a roman sandal and tucks up to the ankle. It's in a gold snakeskin with a little kitten heel. They're made by Sarah Riley and they are at least 10 years old but they are still always a huge hit, just gorgeous. They do everything, they dress up a look. I work from home, I am often in clothes that are comfortable and if I pop those on, I am dressed up.
How many shoes do you own?
I am very modest at the moment, I only have 40 pairs. I do a cull every now and then and sometimes they wear out, too. I've got a beautiful pair of snakeskin cowboy boots, cowboy shoes really, and they can't be repaired anymore. I haven't thrown them out yet, they are in a cupboard somewhere waiting to be thrown out.
I am guessing fast-fashion is not your bag?
My shoes are old and I look after them and that's what made me love them. If they were cheap shoes that were just the latest thing and didn't have those qualities of design and longevity, I wouldn't have built up a relationship with them.
Do you have quite a pared-down closet?
I work out of a reasonably limited wardrobe, for a season I might have 30 pieces in rotation. I have more, items are edited in and out. I still have a lot of Doris de Pont which still does very good service. My husband wears a coat I made for him in 1985 and never ceases to get a comment on the street when he's wearing it. I buy New Zealand designers because they understand what it is to be a New Zealander and to dress like a New Zealander.
Who are your favourite New Zealand designers?
I am a very big fan of Jimmy D, I have a number of his pieces in my wardrobe. I am an absolute fan of Zambesi for their staunch adherence to hand-making and the craft of garment construction and for sticking to their design aesthetic. I love beautiful young people like Maggie Marilyn, who has her finger on the pulse of her client, who are gorgeous young things. I don't have any of her clothes in my wardrobe but I admire what she's doing.
What makes a garment recognisably Kiwi?
We like our clothes to be comfortable, so even when we have got to do formal occasions there is a tendency to leave that top button undone or have a dress that's not quite so fitting, those sort of strategies, so that not only do we look good but we feel comfortable.
The museum celebrates local fashion. Why is that important?
We have a unique style in New Zealand. We're very much in touch with what's happening in the world but we have our own way of interpreting it. But the very important thing that the Fashion Museum does is that people understand clothing and we can look at all sorts of things in society, our interactions, our demographics, our art and technology - all those things can be seen and talked about in terms of what we wear.
Why did you choose pride?
I don't like to ask for help, I consider myself pretty self-contained. I had a fall earlier this year when I was in Seattle to present a paper. I broke my hip. That made me dependent on people to look after me and to help me out and made me too tired to do the things I normally do. I'm a mother and a grandmother and I am used to doing things for other people. It's harder to accept help from other people.
What happened with your hip?
My husband calls it my Colin Meads moment because I fell and I didn't realise I had broken my hip, I just thought I had a lot of pain from the fall. I got up and walked on it, and it was quite painful, so I rode home on a Lime scooter and had a good night's sleep and the next morning cycled down to the venue and presented the paper while standing on my broken hip. We went to Vancouver to see my sister and went to the hospital just in case and I had to have surgery. That was my drama for the year - Eleanor Black
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* The next New Zealand Fashion Museum exhibition, Moana Currents: Dressing Aotearoa Now, is on at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery from September 7 to December 1.