I recently re-read Undressed by Stacy Gregg – to my knowledge the only book ever written specifically about New Zealand fashion and the designers who create it. Published in 2003, it’s slightly outdated now (a few of the designers have dropped off – Nicholas Blanchet and Marilyn Sainty – and current big name designers who weren’t around back then obviously aren’t mentioned), but it still gives a fairly holistic overview of our little industry. Most interesting for me, was the section on Zambesi, Nom*D, WORLD and Karen Walker’s show at London Fashion Week in 1999, dubbed the ‘New Zealand Four’.
“At London Fashion Week, the international press, always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing, instantly latched on to New Zealand’s talents. In their enthusiasm for our designers they labelled us the ‘New Belgians’ and ‘dark and intellectual’.”
Which got me thinking. We’re a country known for wearing black. Lots and lots of black. Dark – yes, intellectual – maybe, moody – definitely, but always black. Why?
So I had a look through the last few collections of our most prominent designers. Zambesi and Nom*D were the first to come to mind – both are well known for their dark, intellectual, gothic, moody designs. Guess what – both had plenty of colour in their previous two seasons. Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester – both had much more colour than black. I could go on and on. So why then, do we see everybody in black?
I have two friends who only wear black. It’s like a uniform. One tells me that he sometimes tries to wear colours then always changes before he leaves the house because he feels uncomfortable if he’s not in black. The other made me laugh the other day when he responded to my question, ‘Why don’t you have any colour in your wardrobe?’ with, ‘What do you mean, no colour? I have some white shirts’. Same goes for most New Zealand businessmen. Always black. Go to just about any other country in the world and black suits are reserved for weddings, funerals and the courtroom. Here in New Zealand, it’s always the first suit guys seem to buy.
Besides three black tee shirts I sometimes wear to bed (and a black suit I sometimes wear to weddings or funerals), I don’t own a single black item of clothing. You could say I’m anti it as a shade. Not out of principle, but more because I don’t think I look very good in it. I’d much rather wear navy blue – in my opinion, a far more interesting and flattering colour.
So my questions are:
Do you predominantly wear black? If so, why?
What’s your beef with colour?
What is it about New Zealanders that makes them gravitate towards black?
Do you think black is an easier colour to wear?
Is black really more flattering than other colours? (As far as I’m aware navy blue is a much more forgiving colour to wear if you’re of a paler complexion.)
Gentlemen – why wear black suits instead of navy or grey?
Is it lazy to wear head to toe black?
I LIKE YOU!