With the announcement last night of who will be showing at next month's Fashion Week, Viva looks back on 10 years of parties glamour and gossip. It's all good fashion fun.
Forget the clothes. Didn't you hear about the two blondes fighting? The fashion designer who fell off the stage and had to be carted away in an ambulance? The VIPs who were locked out and had tantrums? It's all true. Since New Zealand started it's very own fashion week, the event has changed a lot. And there have certainly been some interesting highlights along the way. Which is why this might just be the perfect opportunity to do a short recap of the best - and sometimes the worst, depending on who you happen to be - moments of the past few years. Ever.
Most Memorable Fashion Faux Pas
Exhibit one: the designer label, long since expired, that thought it would be cool to send models down the runway wearing one gumboot. Exhibit two: the lingerie label that dispatched a well-tanned hunk to dispense flyers, wearing nowt but a nicely decorated, over-sized G-string. And exhibit three: that boar's head in the finale of an Annah Stretton show that was so odd some of us will, unfortunately for the designer, never forget. And though some would say that the winner must be the day that several television celebrities brought their screaming baby accessories to a fashion show - no babysitter, ladies? - nothing beats the sight of about eight different Karen Walker fans all wearing the same, uh, signature print to said designer's fashion show. All looking slightly horrified, all trying to find their own corner to hide in, in a room that only had four.
Most Fascinating International Guest
Every year, the organisers of Fashion Week fly over a VIP guest or 10. These come in two distinctive flavours. The first kind are those who can actually help the New Zealand fashion industry in some way, whether they work for an internationally distributed magazine or they have contacts within the clothing industry. The second breed are the highly strung poodles of the fashion world: flamboyant, fascinating, flashy and probably a little odd after too many years in the industry. They may be there strictly to attract media attention and may, in many cases, know as much about fashion as your Aunty Sue in Tauranga. But they are very interesting to look at - and over the years there have been so many strange and interesting individuals arriving in the front row at Fashion Week. Socialite Cozmo Jenks with her silly hats, Brian Long with his headband and hand holding in the front row, Bryan Boy the camp blogger, Britney Spears' stylist Britt Bardo who insisted on painting one fingernail on every hand she liked the look of at a fashion party. But possibly the most visually arresting individual was Diane Pernet, she of the huge black Spanish mantilla, blood red lips and big black sunglasses. The woman keeps a blog that her followers consider influential but mostly she was just an awesome, and very different sight.
There are a few to choose from: Jaeha, Lonely Hearts' first solo shows, Cybele Wiren's first outings. All of these made an impact when they started out. But the winner must be Alexandra Owen. Maybe it's because she waited until she was really, really ready. Maybe it's because she is the proud possessor of both lashings of confidence and ambition. But when the Wellington-based designer sent corset-wired coats that looked like big woollen bubbles down the runway into a glacial soundscape and chilly white surroundings, a few fashion writers nearly dropped their pens. Pinch me, am I in Paris? The collection was beautiful, adventurous and very well made. Owen is now heading for offshore shows. But before all that, it was a solo show by a relative newcomer to remember, a designer bound for great things.
The Most Scandalous Scandal
There was the time the celebrity VIPs were barred from a Little Brother show and had tantrums at the door. And then there was the time a designer glued paper to models' faces only to draw blood when the decorations were removed, causing one girl's father to threaten legal action. But really we all know there can be only one winner. While one would never advocate actual physical violence, when an angry Aja Rock threw her red wine all over hapless gossip columnist Bridget Saunders at a Huffer after-party, it was probably the most exciting thing that had happened at Fashion Week for, quite literally, years.
Way back in the day, when Fashion Week first started there were some very naughty fashion designers who did not want to, or could not afford to, get on to the event's official schedule. So they put on their own DIY shows in odd corners around Auckland: warehouse spaces, garages or bars. Those days are long gone - most of the errant labels have been coaxed or co-opted onto the official schedule. But it sure was fun while it lasted.
This is a little different from the scandal because it's only hearsay. The scandals actually happened, the gossip you just wished had. And it's a tie! Firstly, there was the editor who tried to leave a show that was running late to relieve her babysitter but was barred from leaving by the fashion designer, who demanded she take her seat. The rumour that went around later was that said editor had been so annoyed at her second row seating that she tried to leave. Not true - but the gossip made it onto national television news anyway. And the other one that was just too good to resist? Karen Walker flew Paris Hilton over from Australia for her show. Also not true. And then there were the rumours about Pamela Anderson and her entourage last year ...
Most Theatrical Theatrics
Zambesi may have had the longest runway fashion fans had ever been seated alongside, and Kate Sylvester some of the cleverest staging. But the crown must go to the biggest drama queen of them all, Trelise Cooper. And that is meant in the best possible way. Over the years Cooper has consistently put on the most spectacular of spectacles - everything from monks and angels and flame throwers to lingerie-clad cabaret dancers to, these days, the most enchanting childrenswear shows complete with gingerbread houses and adorable kiddywinks.
Year of the Stylist
It goes to show how much New Zealand's Fashion Week has changed. At one stage, everyone thought stylists were the people who did your hair. Since 2004, local stylists have been recognised as an integral part of the fashion show production. They make sure the stockings are on straight and the hats are on crooked. They add their own inimitable ideas to the mix. Additionally some of them, like Karen Inderbitzen-Waller, have become industry "names" in their own right.
Year of the Blogger
Once upon a time, covering Fashion Week was easy. You wrote a few notes, drank a bit of Champagne and at the end of the week, you might have to put together some sort of story. But then the internet came along and ruined all those good times.
In 2006, now-defunct website Runway Reporter started running reviews straight after every show. New Zealand fashion fans couldn't get enough and now every man, woman and handbag-sized dog is blogging, running from runway to computer or using their mobile phones to send frock-tastic information back to adoring masses. Indeed, many of the visiting international press are solely bloggers with dedicated followers across the globe.
There's nothing like a little rock 'n' roll after a hard day of glamour and frocks and although Nom* D and Huffer have put on some excellent parties, Kristine Crabb's devotees know how to party in a sexy dress and heels down at the lap dance club and Stolen Girlfriends Club like to feed their guests drinks in jam jars (how punk!), the ultimate award must go to Little Brother, if only for year-on-year consistency.
Mix free beer, male models and some good ol' fashioned rock bands and you have a surefire recipe for success.
Best Fashion Show
This is a trick category. After all, it's subjective. Those who love Trelise Cooper or Karen Walker - and there are many die- hard fans for both brands - would say one of these guys did the best show.
Others would say Nom* D's 21st birthday show complete with a giant, glittering mound made from 100kg of salt. Or Zambesi's show in the boatyard where models emerged from a cloud of smoke at a runway so long you couldn't see the end. Or the Kate Sylvester show with the lupine theme for the Wolf collection.
It's all comes down to individual taste really.