New Zealand Fashion Week announced its lineup about an hour ago in Auckland and, thanks to Kiwi operative Paul Blomfield, frockwriter can reveal the biggest news: Kirrily Johnston is the first Australian designer to join the event. Not only that, Moët et Chandon has jumped on board as champagne sponsor.
Now heading into its eighth year, this is the first year that New Zealand Fashion Week has opened its doors to Australians. In May, NZFW creative director Myken Stewart told me that should enough Australians in fact be interested in showing, then they might consider adding another day to the schedule.
Both images: Kirrily Johnston AW08 collection/kirrilyjohnston.com
So far Johnston is the only Australian to head to Auckland and the schedule remains a 4-day only affair, which runs from 16th-19th September down on Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. To be followed by the Fashion Weekend event – a public showcase of collections highlights and season previews.
The news is interesting in light of the demise of the Transseasonal – nee autumn/winter – showcase of Australian Fashion Week. This year IMG finally canned the struggling event, in order to focus on its consumer-nosed Sydney Fashion Festival. Interesting, because if designers aren't willing to cough up funds to show their winter collections on schedule in Sydney, it is presumably going to be a lot more expensive to schlep a show over to NZ.
"It’s worked out honestly to be less expensive for us than shooting a campaign, which is what we would normally do for winter" Johnston told me on Friday afternoon, adding that "there's not a lot of difference" in the show comparison shots, beyond the fact that she needs to fly a team over. She hopes most costs will be covered by sponsorship.
Johnston said she had in fact been planning a trip to NZ at the exact moment NZFW approached her to do a show. Like other Australians, Johnston recently decided to devote more attention to the Asian market.
A Hong Kong trip earlier this year proved to very successful in terms of media coverage, she said.
Noted Johnston, "For me its about New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan [at the moment]. You're there in one day, you don't suffer the hideous jet lag. This is where we getting our strength from at the moment".
So far only names of the key participating brands, and not the official schedule, have been released. They include:
• Kirrily Johnston
• Trelise Cooper
• World (great to see these guys back after four years)
• Stolen Girlfriends Club
• Lonely Hearts
• Stitch Ministry
• Yvonne Bennetti
• Paula Ryan
• Juliet Hogan
• Deadly Ponies
• Annah Stretton
• Michael Pattison
No Kate Sylvester this year. Karen Walker will stage some kind of presentation/party.
In the current economic climate, in which everyone seems to be trimming the PR fat, the Moët et Chandon move is also interesting.
Especially in light of the news that in Australia at least, Moët is dropping its long-standing Melbourne Cup Carnival Birdcage marquee this year - in favour of an exclusive, inner-city, club-type venue. The latter is bound to cost less than the 500K Moët reportedly ponies up for its Birdcage spot.
Several years ago Moët also pulled the plug on its sponsorship of Australian Fashion Week.
“AFW went from Moët to Rosemount – New Zealand Fashion Week has gone from Deutz to Moët” noted one wag of the Kiwi bubbles upgrade.