New Zealand Fashion Week has a focus on diversity and the event next month will conclude with a catwalk show featuring garments from various top designers worn by 15 models with intellectual disabilities.

Founder Dame Pieter Stewart has partnered NZFW with Dance for Abilities, offering the space for a closing-party show on August 31.

DFA is a not-for-profit organisation helping people with disabilities to aspire to mix more and for non-disabled people to get in and mix with them.

The show — called Living Colour — will be the feel-good show of the week and a stellar way for NZFW to finish.


This is the fourth event for DFA in Auckland. The events are put on by brothers Callum, Daniel, and Jonathan Hopkirk who were inspired to make a difference because their little sister, Rosa, who has Down Syndrome, didn't get the opportunity to go out partying with her brothers as she grew up.

Lauren Jayne Mills, Dance for Abilities. Photo / Herald on Sunday.
Lauren Jayne Mills, Dance for Abilities. Photo / Herald on Sunday.

In 2017, Jonathan launched the idea in Bondi and Daniel brought it to Auckland last year.

"Rosa loves to dance and party, no different to the rest of us, however the opportunities were sometimes limited," Daniel says.

"We wanted to create events that were inclusive, exciting, fun and gave people with intellectual disabilities a safe environment to experience what we all do on any given night out."

Zambesi was the first to support the Living Colour show. As well as hosting the label's 40th birthday show during Fashion Week, Zambesi designer Elisabeth Findlay will join Dame Pieter as judges of Living Colour's best dressed, best dancers and best on the catwalk categories, which will all be done in fun.

"Dance For Abilities is all about having fun and adding colour to everything that we do, so this will be no different, the contingent have a true love of fashion, Daniel says.

The Hopkirk brothers have been inundated with interest from around New Zealand about the event, including from many people with intellectually disabled friends who love the idea of the chance to do things they otherwise wouldn't be able to.

The show will seat 350 and the brothers have set up an online page so those who really need to come to the event can attend free of charge.


There is also an online fundraiser where kind-hearted Kiwis can donate the $35 it would cost to host each member of the 350-capacity crowd. They are also on the hunt for a naming rights sponsor.