From Crane Brothers

For their summer offerings of ready-to-wear, Crane Brothers have produced a range of suits using Escorial wool. This is the wool derived from a centuries-old flock of sheep which was once a treasure of Spain, but in recent history, now exists as flocks in Australia and New Zealand. As a fibre, it is supremely lightweight, but with a resilience which means it doesn’t crease. It also has a remarkable, satisfying sheen quite unlike any other wool.

In styling, the Crane Brothers summer suits embrace a world of three-piece ensembles, and a mathematical precision of pattern-making and cutting. With joyful spirit, the collection is based on the character of Dickie Greenleaf, the errant son from the 1955 novel The Talented Mr Ripley, so well turned into the sartorial visual marker in the 1999 film.

Old Bank Arcade

A hundred years ago, every big city had a ‘bank corner’ where major banks built landmark premises. The Wellington branch of the BNZ, had a pride position on its site shaped like a ship’s prow negotiating the intersection of Lambton and Customhouse Quays. 

The building went up in 1900 – a confidence-inspiring confection of cement ornamentation on the outside with a huge banking chamber inside rich with woodwork and polychrome tiles. Thousands of people transacted business inside this chamber each day, so it was worth putting on a show. Yet such finery hadn’t always distinguished this piece of real estate. In the 1840s it was little more than a finger of gravel jutting into the harbour: the settlers called it Clay Point.
Then the hull of a wrecked ship – the Inconstant which had been on its way to Peru – was towed into the harbour and set onto this gravel. Stabilized with beams of wood, the hull became the basis for an eccentric emporium known as Noah’s Ark, full of imported necessities like china, glassware, clothes and ironmongery.
Then came huge land reclamations in the 1860s which pushed the harbour’s edge blocks away from Lambton Quay. Noah’s Ark was levelled to make a building site for the newly-established Bank of New Zealand. The bank’s first building here was wooden, but thirty years on the bank built its landmark which we know today as the Old Bank Arcade.
Old Bank Arcade is home to boutiques and eateries, all accessible from promenades and flights of stairs fitting into the original volumes of the banking chamber. It is a walk through quality, surprise and engagement.

Trelise Cooper Interview

Deco from Phoenix

Phoenix Renata, founder of Phoenix Cosmetics, has produced a brilliantly-crafted collection of makeup under the name Dollface Baby. Immediately evident is a cinematic spirit of Art Deco – encounters with movie star posters, the first use of neon lighting, and porcelain figures on heavy alabaster bases.

In this photo, Renata’s notions of the ‘face-as-canvas’ and ‘makeup is fun’ are carried through with a verve any Deco practitioner would have appreciated. Colour graduations are smoothly magical. The eye work is crisp and balanced – the little butterflies which have alighted are cut paper. And the lipstick, called Berry, is a long-finish, substantial work of architectural colour.
The Deco era has always fascinated Renata. Covering the entire mood scale from delicious fun through to the sombre of black and white movies, Deco also relies on exacting lines and technical precision to produce masterful works. This range from Phoenix has all the material available for such mastery.
Terence H

Ruby’s Boardwalk

The shirt is the ‘Boardwalk Shirt’, done in a silk-cotton mix. The pants are the ‘Holiday Runners’, done in a heavy cotton drill.
The garments are from the summer collection of Ruby boutique, titled ‘Boardwalk’. Here we are invited into a youthful, warm take on beachwear, big skies and leisure. It is a stylish boardwalk that Ruby has designed for, and frequently delights in a confident use of colours drawn from the interiors of mouth-watering fruits.

Terence H

Into the Light

The garment is the ‘Phedra dress’, done in a crepe-textured silk. An application of ruffles, and the use of multiple panels for the skirt allows the colouring to appear both filmy, as well as in solid blocks depending on where the light falls.

Phedra is from Kate Sylvester’s summer collection called ‘Into the Light’. It applauds the emerging into summer light after months of sombre winter. Summer light brings brilliance, radiance, and a feel of expansiveness. For the designer’s campaign, the notion of light is not just that provided by the sun, but also the light of theatre spotlights and banks of floodlights. The collection is a celebration, and lyrical at that.
Terence H

World Man

There is an assuredness about World’s summer collection of men’s garments. Fun, unexpected materials and jazzy compilations make this showing a wardrobe of possibilities.

Done in a rich, harbourside-blue brocade, this is World’s ‘Perfect Beat’ blazer. Excellent pattern-making and tailoring has turned what was once deemed the fabric of an occasional adventurous cushion into a parading piece of modern couture.


Like a work of abstract art from a Manhattan studio, this jacket proclaims its paint-drip patterning with no explanation. It’s pure take it or leave it.

Threading through this collection are references to music – particularly the world of 1980s Bronx-based hip hop performers. Many of the garments’ names celebrate such recording artists as Tone Loc and Afrika Bambaataa. These references are not strident, but exist in their own underlying layer. Such themes and vibrations also feature in World’s summer collection for women.

The Halo Dress

Halo Dress is from Derryn Schmidt’s summer collection. The fabric is a tightly woven silk-cotton, providing a background for colourful print work and some subtle details like the run of pin-tucking down the spine.
The print is a tumbling design of big peony/chrysanthemum blooms among cascades of cool coloured petals. It is serenely suggestive of oriental lacquer work and the imperial colours of oriental hand painted porcelain.
The name of Schmidt’s collection is Around in Circles. The phrase carries with it the idea that in creating something new, the spirit can often go around in circles, looking at things seen in the past, and techniques learnt, and then, behold, something fresh appears.
Terence H

Fun from Cooper

The dress is the ‘Frocktail Shaker’ -- a work in silk with four fringed belts done in soft gold cotton threads. Taking a cue from its name, it is indeed like a quenching built-up cocktail full of citrus curls and zests, topped with opaque lemon fizz.
The jacket is called ‘Kiss my Asp’. The pattern of reptile skin is done in leather, then overlaid and heat-set with a thin plastic skein. Here is a stunning replica of the fine textures and flashing iridescence of snake skin – both charming, and alarming.
The garments are from the summer collection of Cooper; a sub-collection of Trelise Cooper.
Cooper is a label dancing with the jazzy, the youthful, and the irreverent. It is a label of spirited collectables.
Terence H

Bird in Cage



The sheer amount of invention shown by a new
wave of New Zealand jewellery designers is
stunning. Here is the work of dedicated individuals
following their own paths of imagination, themes and
choices of materials.

One of the many trends to captivate designers is the
enjoyment of working on a small, almost microscopic
scale. These are the pieces of jewellery you get close
up to; they become the objects which carry the patina
of heirloom about them.

This delicious work, titled the Bird in Cage locket, is by
Rebecca Fargher and revels in minute execution. It is
modelled in sterling silver which has been oxidised, then
the surface highlights have been polished back to give
the gleam of silver. As a locket, it is a charming sphere
which opens to reveal a bird swinging from a collar against
a background of finely-etched trees.

For much of this jewellery, it has been the rise of specialist
dealer galleries offering featured artist exhibitions which have
allowed such works to be viewed and sought after by a
global public. In this case, the dealer gallery is Quoil of
Willis Street, Wellington.

Captivated by WOW

The World of Wearable Art as an event began as a fascinating idea in the mind of Nelson artist Suzie Moncrieff. It was an idea which took art from the walls and wrapped it around models. It was in 1987 that the original show was presented in a community hall with prize money donated by a local cafe owner. It soon became a fixture on the local calendar, then moved to Wellington where it has now become its own fabulous machine.

The show is now a brand, and an international event. It is a two-hour performance full of dreams, surrealism, humour, the macabre and the fantastic. Upwards of 170 creations are shown and a crew of 400 attends to all the details of lighting, sound, choreography and stage management.
It is seen live by 50,000 people, and a press contingent ensures the world can partake in the magic as entrants come from over twenty different countries including Germany, India, Israel, Korea, the UK and USA.

A Certain Brilliance

In 1892, young Czech entrepreneur Daniel Swarovski patented a machine for cutting and polishing lead crystal. While the machine vastly reduced the time taken to polish, it also allowed a precision control over faceting so that crystal could now really dazzle. The present-day heirs of the Swarovski founder still pursue this experiment-and-patent mindset, yielding a fantastic array of products – especially in their business of providing stones for jewellery designers. 

In 1985, Danish designers Gitte Dyrberg and Henning Kern established their jewellery design house DYRBERG/KERN in Copenhagen. Their particular attention to clean lines and quality, flawless construction have become absolute baselines from which their collections of jewellery, watches and eyewear emerge. Their sourcing of materials is global, as is their retail reach with outlets in more than forty countries including their concept store at 1 Grey Street, Wellington.

Fashion Week Approaches.

For designers, Fashion Week allows collections to be shown with all the glory of models, hair, makeup, set design, music, lighting, and an audience with purchasing and publicity power. Although there’s an underlining sense that this is a preview of upcoming ranges, it is not necessary that everything shown will go into production. 

For some, the event is there to keep a label’s followers attentive, even if this is done with a helping of anarchy. Stolen Girlfriends Club’s fanciful ‘wedding’ was unexpected drama – as was their display of an in-house designed fabric printed with an uneasy mix of hydrangeas and cigarette butts. Memorable, also, have been a number of exhibitions both ‘main venue’ as well as ‘off-site’ which have sparked acclaim by their high standard of vision and execution. 
Starfish have used the event to preview fabrics which had a back-story of eco-friendliness which was anything but lip-service. Kathryn Wilson was the first show devoted to footwear with a runway set up at eye level. And the spirit of the Miromoda showcase for designers of Maori descent focused the international media.

For media, Fashion Week is nothing short of compelling. Through broadcast TV, a huge audience shares in the reporting of ‘behind the scenes’ where crews record, say, such details as the placing of sparkling diamonds on a model’s face with tweezers. We are given glimpses of the organisation of stylists as they ensure the designer’s visions are crisply presented. TV also knows it has an audience for the big stories like Pamela Anderson’s steamy sarong-twirling presentation, or the visit of America’s Next Top Model winner Krista White – many of her winning assignments having been shot in New Zealand.And broadcast TV is no parochial endeavour, as film crews from many different countries arrive to cover events for show on station from Tokyo to New York.

Photos courtesy Sam Lee

On First Meeting with Trelise

On first meeting with Trelise, the new Eau de Toilette from Trelise Cooper, we are immediately in the fragrant world of vanilla pods, and the glossy caramel developing under the heat of a brûlée torch. These are big fragrances: welcome home fragrances suggesting relaxation after a long walk through brown, fallen leaves.
And, spend some time in the perfume’s company and quietly revealed are other scents: the invitation of sandalwood, the enveloping, heirloom-quilt of lily of the valley, a sinuous thread of Janis Joplin patchouli. There are many components in this work.
Structurally, the component juices are sourced from the world’s spiritual 
home of perfume: Grasse in Southern France. Here is the cultivation of 
thousands of plants yielding their petals, leaves, seeds and barks to a 
centuries-old alchemy of extraction and distillation. Here, also, are 
stringent testing and verification certificates issued by the industry to 
assure a global market of quality. For Trelise, upwards of 18 separate 
juices were used to develop this perfume—one of the industry’s most 
complex orchestrations.

Greetings, Miromoda

In 2008, a marketing board was set up to promote the many designers of Maori descent working in fashion. Knitting together the Maori word miro (the weaving of fibres) with the Italian word moda (fashion), the newly-minted term Miromoda became the masthead for the board. It set out to encourage and promote and has enabled many designers with commercially viable output to come to widespread notice.
This year, Miromoda will have its third show at New Zealand Fashion Week. One of the designers to show is Adrienne Whitewood. This photo, courtesy of Miromoda, shows three of her garments as a capsule collection which Whitewood calls Te Aho Tapu: the Sacred Thread. These are strong works, and a sympathetic eye may well see a modern interpretation here of the photographic portraits taken of Maori in the 1850s and 1860s. These are the decades where traditional Maori garments meet European pattern making and materials. There is the use of tartan cloth – tons of this arrived in ports in these years for the use of clothing shops and dressmakers. 
There is leather – in Whitewood’s work this is the soft, silky leather of lambskin rather than the tough bullock hide used for raincoats and ammunition belts of the period. And there are bold echoes of the swift Maori adoption of woven materials like wool, cotton and linen into their spirit of folding, wrapping and cloaking where coloured borders stand out with drama. In Whitewood’s collection, this delight in bordering is strikingly apparent in the black cloak where the cerise borders are done in rough, raw silk.
For New Zealand Fashion Week, Whitewood will show a collection of six looks. Such an occasion is, of course, the result of a journey and along this path has been the support and interest of Miromoda.

The garment is the red Fencing Jacket.

It is from Alexandra Owen’s Autumn-Winter 2011 collection.
It is construction done in a high quality wool-cashmere, and revels in the architecture of quilting, padding and buttoning. For this collection, quilting is a motif running through all the garments like a melody. It is encountered in all colours and weights from the Prussian blue of a dress, the burgundy silk of a blouse, to the clean white of cotton.
Some of the collection’s blouses carry the title Tullio, and here we are in the world of Luchino Visconti’s 1976 film L’innocente. There is obvious homage to the film here and although Visconti’s character Tullio is a self-serving, overbearing aristocrat, it is much more the film’s visuals of moody establishing shots and lovingly shot rich details of clothes and fabrics which have buoyed Owen’s collection along.

Good as Gold: The New Shop

Behind masked windows, work had been going on for months. Good as Gold was moving their shop a few doors down into new premises at 120 Victoria Street, Wellington. And on opening, it was obvious the fit-out was not a hurried piece of retail standardisation, but a singular, crafted work of story-telling done with vast amounts of wood.
The new shop has all the hallmarks of being styled like a tree fort. It is this back story – this reminiscence of vigorous childhood – which purrs away throughout the place. The shop has three levels, not architecturally precise stories, but stages joined by sets of steps as if fitting around tree trunks too huge to remove. The top level, like that of a tree fort, feels siege-like with hinged windows you swing open and hurl missiles through at enemies: old food, perhaps slippers left behind by a distant relative.


The wood is macrocarpa, sourced from a specialist sawmill in the Wairarapa. It is the wood of farm construction – sheds, pens, fences, storage bins – and carries the honest smells of resin and circular saws. In places the wood is kept rough-sawn, but where used for display shelves it is polished smooth.
And, like whimsy, the dressing rooms for the ground floor stand in a row showing off their architectural heritage of part boat-shed, part outhouse, and a hint of dovecote.
The new Good as Gold is a visual draw card but also an astute marketing envelope. It is so appropriate for the business which showcases designers working in the orbits of the bold, the edgy and the wry.

The Look Book says Hello

Many look books are story books. They talk of fables, or recent events,
or places visited, or things overheard. Recently, Starfish looked at the work
of artist Len Lye to create a story-based collection, while Sophie Burrowes
visited a dark, but sometimes silvery, London for her look book.

And, like a sub-genre, the world of nostalgia has increasingly become a big,
warm engine for storyline inspiration. Nostalgia isn't riding back centuries to
epochs we never knew like the court of Eighteenth Century France or the
horse-racing events of Edwardian times. More, it is a brief trip back into our
own memories. It can be a glance at things we're just on the cusp of forgetting
about: psychedelic patterns, quaint sayings, black and white TV, sitting around
a cheese fondue.

With such effort going into the look book, it is great to see print versions still
being produced along with the online presentations. The printed books are
distinctively tactile. We spot them sitting on counters, we take them away for
perusal at our leisure, and we can show them to friends. The print medium
allows for a huge variety of size from the jumbo like a Sunday newspaper
through to a pocket-edition. All types of paper stock are used from newsprint
to heavy gloss, and there is scope for typographical swish.

One such pocket-edition look book is the Voon Winter 2011 collection: "How to Make a Bath Bomb". Immediately we are in the realm of story-telling (the 'how-to' manual), and nostalgia 
('I haven't heard of that for ages'). Voon's book takes us through instructions of how to make these scented tablets which fizz when they hit water at a delicious, illustrated pace. Oh no, we won't be rushed.

This image is called 'Sprinkle with Dried Petals'. We are about half way through the recipe, and illustrated is the collection's Bow Wow jacket and skirt. This is a fine weave of polyester/wool, with the white cotton bows being felted and weaved into the bolts of fabric. The bows are arresting and fanciful; not unlike the black tips of ermine tails seen across the dazzling white of coronation robes.


We are now ready to deliver the bath bomb to a friend. Illustrated here is the Cupcake Dress -- its confectionery pink colouring and glorious rose blooms done in velveteen. Over the dress is the Frosting Jacket. Although entirely synthetic, the material has exactly the same texture and feel as the Astrakhan wool used for centuries as collars, hats and facings.

Finding Old Wool

Deep in the cupboards of hundreds of houses lie jerseys and cardigans mostly unwanted, or at least unused. They are considered old-fashioned and a little ‘home made’. They have patterns which today are considered ludicrous, and some of the colours might make us run a mile. But for some this is treasure waiting to be reworked – upcycled – into exciting new presentations. It is a resource to be extracted from friends and swept up from thrift shops.

Coromandel-based Emma Churchill, a 2009 graduate from Massey University, loves the wool that nobody much wants. She has a keen sense for recycling based on both an ethical sense of abhorring casual waste, and also the artistic spirit of ‘this is still useful’.

She unpicks garments, surrounds herself with yarn, then re-knits this into lengths of cable. This is the hobby-like, unhurried, technique of French knitting. The cables are all lengths and all colours, sewn together side by side. The cables stand out like paint squeezed straight from the tube. The result is bold, painterly, and visceral. Further, the garments possess the decided patina of being art pieces; it is not necessary that they are worn. The works shown here come from her collection titled ‘Consume This’ – a title whose subtext says consume this instead.

This balaclava is a tea-cosy hilarious accessory with its meandering lines of confectionary colour. It would, of course, be superbly rejected as an item of camouflage for a Special Operations unit.This work of garment/art retains its spool showing how a single thread ends up being a thick cable. It’s like an instruction manual attached to the finished item. And, stitched in white, is the ‘designer label’ – Churchill’s brand name and web address // 

Welcome Home

The materials for this piece called Welcome Home are enamel fused onto copper, set around lengths of found chain. The work is both a necklace and also a work of pinned-up art which you go up to from time to time and simply peruse. The tags read of actual places – Ealing, Rangitata, Hinds, Tinwald – and sayings like ‘hook, line and sinker’ as well as depictions of items like an axe, a milk bottle, a fishing hut and a magpie. 

The lettering is done in big capitals; the informal typeface we might find down rural roads warning us not to trespass or dump rubbish. The locale of these place names is the countryside around Ashburton, and up into the headwaters of the rivers of the Canterbury Plains. We read the tags, but the tags are saying more than just the words. For this piece is a protest. 

The tags recall a clear, unhurried time full of childhood destinations but now, on revisiting, pollution, overcrowding and bulk farming practices have spoiled the land. The name of the necklace has now become wry and cynical.The necklace is by jeweller-artist Kay Van Dyk whose childhood years were spent in the district. Now based in Nelson, Van Dyk trained both in New Zealand as well as at the Guildhall University in London where there was great attention paid to the art of silversmithing. 

Her accomplishment in techniques, coupled with a spirit of wishing to memorialise recent events and nostalgia, gives her work a great presence as both jewellery and one-off works of art. Van Dyk is represented in Wellington at Quoil gallery at 149 Willis Street

Into Wonderland: Trelise Cooper in Wellington

Since it went up in 1906, the old Public Trust building on Lambton Quay has always fascinated with its Florentine-Edwardian architecture. Here is a full display of the polished granite, marble, limestone and red brick so beloved by the period’s best architects—the delicious Baroque notes, the little decorative surprises, the feeling that here is something special.
The new Trelise Cooper shop for Wellington is in this building, and serenely complements the old architecture with its own fresh wonderland offerings of Baroque notes, surprises and feelings.

The shop is like a long gallery. This is the architecture of fantastic first impression, followed by a thoughtful voyage through it, pausing and noticing. Overhead, skylights and wooden ceiling trusses add flavour, and escort us.
The design is the work of Penny Barnett whose long association with Trelise Cooper meant there was a deep understanding of what the brand stood for; what its story was. A Baroque spirit presides. 

This is no suddenly decided-upon notion, as the brand has had this spirit for many years. In this shop, the baroqueness appears in a wealth of bloom-and-tendril motifs. These appear in framed drops of vintage wallpaper, the moulded ormolu on the French furniture, the painted rondels on the floor and the copper and iron work which dazzles along the way. Particularly stunning are the peony-big blooms fabricated from copper sheeting left behind by a previous tenant of the space.
Garments are displayed both on racks set into shallow bays, and as styled mannequins. This styling work is exceptional: the mannequins show the exuberance of each individual piece as well as combining pieces so the visitor can really absorb the Cooper love of layering, colouring and embellishment.

Towards the back of the shop are the dressing rooms – big, glorious tents of bronze-flecked material jutting out to soften, and excite, the view. They hint at the lavish campaign tents that Napoleon used on his way to Russia. Such a military hint is also occasionally encountered in some of the garment designs where there is the use of braid, epaulettes, pipings and facings done in regimental gold and cord.

At the rear of the shop stands a magnificent mirror, so generous, and bordered by metal tendril work. On top of the mirror, like a coronet, stands the Trelise Cooper cipher, a lower-case ‘t’ beautifully engulfed with vines. It is the same cipher used for the signboard on the building’s exterior which signals Here Is Wonderland.
Terence Hodgson
Photos courtesy Trelise Cooper