#1179 The first book of New Zealand fashion

New Zealand Fashion Design gets released today. It’s essentially the Encyclopedia of New Zealand Fashion, published by Te Papa. New Zealand Fashion Brittanica if you will. Containing profiles of 25 designers, a catalogue of imagery and a couple of essays about the industry – important moments, the ‘New Zealand look’ (though I don’t think anybody actually believes in that anymore) and the key players – the book is big. Five kilograms big. It’s a tome.

It covers off all the usual protagonists – Karen Walker, Zambesi, Nom*D, WORLD, Kate Sylvester, Trelise Cooper, Workshop, Tanya Carlson, Adrian Hailwood; but also devotes a good section to the older guard – Marilyn Sainty, Doris De Pont, Liz Mitchell, Sabatini White; the off-the-beaten-track names – NG, Sakaguchi; the up and comers – Stitch Ministry, Cybele, Beth Ellery, Deborah Sweeney, Lonely Hearts, Juliette Hogan, Jimmy D, Camille Howie and Alexandra Owen; and one menswear designer – Murray Crane.

I haven’t had a good chance to look at it (about 15 minutes in the flesh under the watchful eye of a publicist), but it seems like a fairly comprehensive snapshot of the last 30 years of New Zealand Fashion. There are, however, some fairly obvious labels missing. Where is Huffer? It might not be high fashion but it is an incredibly prominent and important New Zealand brand. How did they decide on Stitch Ministry but leave out Huffer? Seems a little odd. Where is Stolen Girlfriends Club? Maybe the label hadn’t been going long enough to qualify. Where is Working Style? Besides not having a ready to wear collection a la Little Brother, Working Style is a very similar business to Crane Brothers, selling made to measure and off the rack suits. Where is Miss Crabb?

But I guess that’s the difficulty in producing a work like this. There will always be somebody left out, or somebody who people feel aren’t good enough to have been included. You can’t please everybody. Especially here in New Zealand.

The book is worth reading for the stories of how everybody made it. And for the photos. The photos are classic. Like Helen Cherry and Liz Findlay in Tokyo in 1985. Or a very young Trelise Cooper wearing those Paul Holmes-esque specs. Or Ilona Rogers as Maxine Redfern in Gloss dressed in an 80s Liz Mitchell power suit. Good times.

I say buy the book. Save up first, it’s about $120-$150. But it’s worth it.


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  1. Anonymous says

    ‘…the New Zealand look’ (though I don’t think anybody actually believes in that anymore).’

    Is that a fact?

  2. Anonymous says

    This is not a “NZ” fashion book for me as this book doesn’t contain all of NZ fashion designers. This book should be a historical reference to future of Nz fashion but pitty it has a few flaw.

    Other than this, the size and a presentation is great.

  3. says

    In regard to the comment above, I think it is very much a NZ fashion book. It would also be nearly impossible to include every fashion designer.

    A publication like this was needed, and there is nothing wrong with providing an edited list of designers. Not having had a chance to read the book yet, im unsure as to how much of a critique it will offer, if any, but hopefully this will encourage more people into an intelligent and well considered discourse on NZ fashion.

  4. Anonymous says

    I too feel that several important designers are missing, but to include everyone would make the already 5kg book far too heavy to carry let alone read!

    Design and presentation of the book is fantastic though, I look forward to reading it.

    The fabulous photos from the book and posted above are by Michael Hall of Te Papa.

  5. oldgirl says

    waiting for my copy of the book, then I will tell you what i think,but just have to say got the new remix mag I think it is the best fashion mag in N.Z loved all the photos and the free c.d., it is top of the pile at the moment and I am fussy with mags

  6. Anonymous says

    “Design and presentation of the book is fantastic though”

    Spotted some crucial Rags and Widows. Also having body copy set justified with that much text is questionable.

  7. Anonymous says

    I’m disappointed by NZ Fashion Design. Too much puff not enough punch. And hardly a pantheon of NZ fashion greats: ever heard of Sakaguchi Orignal of Christchurch? And how long have James Dobson and Camille Howie been in business?
    And where are the generations of designers who laid the foundations for today’s high end clothes? Gus Fisher, Vinka Lucas, Di Jennings, Kerrie Hughes, George Hall,’Babs Radon’ etc.
    As I said, disappointing.

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