WORLD’s Sydney factory of ideas and experiments – photo: Patty Huntington
I wasn’t able to make it to the FINZ lecture on Tuesday, but Paul Blomfield very kindly said he’d cover it for me. Here’s what he had to say:
When listening to the conversation between WORLD’s Denise L’Estrange Corbet and fashion historian Angela Lassig at the first of the FINZ Historical Lecture Series on Tuesday at AUT, I was struck by how many of New Zealand’s great fashion events have been influenced in some way by WORLD.
From the duo’s early days working with other great fashion companies, through their early years in High Street and on to the fame they’ve now achieved with multiple stores, an Order of Merit award and several museum retrospectives, WORLD’s impact is undeniable and they’ve brought the same flamboyant irreverence to everything they’ve done.
Just a quick walk through some of the highlights Denise rolled out included:
Francis committing them to a High Street lease for a shoebox of a shop and filling it with the works of their artist friends, a format that made them unique at the time, with several of those early compatriots also going on to great things.
The next great landmark was their win at the Benson & Hedges, a design award that was so influential at the time, with an origami (paper!) garment. This apparently was nearly thrown out at Te Papa by a new curator who thought it was just cardboard.
Next they shocked the fashion fraternity by being the only designers in New Zealand history to put drag queens on the runway during the Wella Fashion Collections – which was predominantly made up of commercial brands. Denise told guests that they were warned that their collection may be edited for prime time television because of their choice of models, but in the end it did go to air and caused a sensation.
Soon after, WORLD was one of four Kiwi labels invited to the 2nd edition of Mercedes Australian Fashion Week with Sanderson furnishing fabric suits for the boys and chicken father dresses for the girls, again causing a sensation and exciting that international doyenne of fashion, Anna Piaggi herself.
Then, off to London Fashion Week where they were one of the New Zealand Four, thereafter winning a contract to supply Selfridges.
And finally New Zealand Fashion Week, where the duo held a number of outrageous shows – several of which have been undisputed highlights of the week during the past decade.
The talk was punctuated by three great pieces of video; that first MAFW show, their most recent NZFW show and the most interesting, the 60 Minutes piece on WORLD’s Fashion Week show held in the Ara Hall in 2005 – the one that Stacey Greg famously walked out of because of her designated second row seat.
This fascinating insight took us backstage both before and during the show, with cameos by the duo’s great friend and makeup genius Brett Lawler, the (then) model Anna Fitzpatrick and a schoolfriend of Pebbles Hooper’s being taught to walk by a defrocked Drag Queen.
Denise was engaging and relaxed. The achievements of WORLD needed no punctuation, and she didn’t overstate them – in a pleasant conversation well directed by Angela Lassig, the evening was brilliant; informative and thought provoking.
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