For the second year in a row, I gladly skipped out on the first half of New York Fashion Week in order to screw up my internal clock by hauling ass across the globe to the tiny little country of New Zealand. When I received my invitation, I initially thought: Fuckkkkk that. But then I found out I'd have free Wi-Fi, which would allow me to afford to eat this time around. So I said OK, and before I could even think twice about what I was doing, I was on a 13-hour flight to the southern hemisphere, chugging as much red wine as I could before the plane left the gate. Then I gave out all the Ambien I'd brought for the trip to the passengers around me so they wouldn't hear me frantically chanting "4 8 15 16 23 42," Lost's Oceanic Flight 815 doomed number sequence under my breath out of fear our plane was destined to fall out of the sky. Who cares I wasn't going to Australia, same shit. Planes suck, and I'm not trying to die or end up stuck on an island where all of the native creatures could easily kill me.
And yet, despite my crippling fear of flying, earthquakes, and my nonexistent personal spending budget that prohibited me from purchasing items from the designers I'd seen and contributing to New Zealand's dwindling economy (Do you know how much a sweater can cost in a country full of sheep?) I actually had a good time... AGAIN. Everyone was friendly, treated me as if I were hot shit, and had me do all of these interviews for TV. They even let me sit front row at shows I’d totally trashed just a year before. Pretty epic. It’d be impossible to tell you about everything I saw as I’ve arrived home from the trip completely brain-dead with a mouth full of cavities from all of the free chocolates, but here is what I do remember vaguely and still feel comfortable saying nice/bad things about...
Crystal @ N Model Management
Best Models - Crystal and Kelvin, a.k.a. Ksenia
One of the unique things about seeing shows in a country as small as New Zealand is that they don’t have that many great models to work with. Everyone uses the same girls, which is wonderful if those girls are attractive. But the paucity of models can be a terrible thing that'll make you want to blow your brains out multiple times a day when you’re stuck seeing the same stupid faces at every presentation. Surprisingly this season I was blessed with seeing two faces I loved—the fact that I am choosing to bestow the title of Best Models on two completely different girls is extremely rare.
Sometimes all it takes to prove to people that you’re a good model is to show everyone your tits. Most girls fidget and try to fix a nip slip, and as a result end up drawing more attention to their wardrobe malfunction. However, a truly seasoned model just keeps on walking and smirks devilishly as she strides down the runway giving onlookers the kind of look that says, “Chill. I got this!” When I saw Crystal walk out in a dress reminiscent of the type of gown a classy Joan Chen might have worn on Twin Peaks not once but twice with a fully exposed nipple I literally had to hold back the applause. I loved it so damn much, and clearly I wasn’t the only fan of her boobies this past fashion week because designers kept putting her in outfits that showed them off. It was such a delight!
Kelvin, a.k.a. Ksenia @ Clyne
Another really amazing way for models to grab people’s attention is by having two different names. Double the points if you also look like you might not speak English and you were genetically manufactured in a test tube in a Russian science lab during the Cold War. Kelvin or Ksenia was by far the hottest girl I saw all week. Both tall, blond, and with sharp features that made me want to die and be reincarnated as a Barbie doll, she was the most beautiful thing to grace the runway. Also the fact that she’s 24 years old, much older than most models these days and still looks to amazing kind of made me hate myself but, just a littleeeeeee bit.
Worst Designer of All Time - Annah Stretton
Having seen Annah Stretton’s show the previous year I knew I was in for an annoying 15 minutes of the worst designs ever created. She’s one of those “kooky” designers who probably wishes she was as original and crazy as Betsey Johnson. But she simply fails to deliver. This year her show was a totally unoriginal homage to Alice in Wonderland complete with stupid performance art. Her designs are for sad woman who still collect books on fairies and own multiple Anne Geddes baby calendars. Her world is a world of unicorns, pastels, and watercolors; it truly makes me wish I were never born. I know people in New Zealand respect her and whatever but I really can’t stand people who constantly have their heads in the clouds. I hate designers who never seem to grow up or evolve artistically. I don’t care if writing this shit ensures I’m never allowed to step foot in the country again, the woman played Dido for crying out loud. I think my hatred is justified. Like the cupcakes that decorated the runway proclaimed... EAT ME!
Runway decorations at Annah Stretton...
Best Designers in New Zealand - Stolen Girlfriends Club
This is going to sound redundant (it is), or like I’ve been paid to say nice things about these guys (I haven’t), but Marc Moore and Dan Gosling’s label Stolen Girlfriends Club is easily the best label in New Zealand (they are). When I went down this season I promised myself I would be a much harsher critic, but I knew this was all going to be hell when I received the invite to their runway show called Dirty Magic.
Their presentation was the usual shit show you’d expect from the most anticipated show of the week, everyone wanted to get in, there wasn’t enough space, and they ran out of Dan Aykroyd alcohol shortly after the runway portion because that’s what happens when cool kids are allowed to attend a fashion show. But no complaints on my end because the show was magnificent as usual. They designers always cast the most attractive models each season, the styling is always perfect, and although I don’t typically dress as hot as the guys and girls they generally design for, I’d have worn all of it in a heartbeat. Would possibly even consider withholding sex from a significant other if they refused to let me dress them in their clothing as well.
Most Amateur Collection - Lela Jacobs
No Fashion Week would be complete without some kind of weird artistic interpretation of a young up-and-coming designer's deepest, darkest emotions. Lela Jacobs (who I'd heard a lot of really good things about) unfortunately ended up being this designer at NZFW. Although other attendees at the show were excited to see her new line of Winter attire, I immediatly could tell her collection was going to be a total disaster when the first drugged-out model wearing some bullshit Where The Wild Things Are gown awkwardly shuffled down the catwalk. All of the models had a painted-white index finger complete with an oddly manicured “coke nail” at the tip, and if that wasn’t terrible enough, they also sported old lady pantyhose on their heads. I couldn’t help but think of Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona when he tries to steal baby diapers from the supermarket and the guy at the front desk screams, “Boy you’ve got a panty on your head!” Good job trying to be different Lela but go back to art school you’re not going to make any money in fashion.
Best Makeup - Trelise Cooper
One of the very few shows I went backstage for was Trelise Cooper's. I stood around in the back corner pounding Red Bull waiting to watch all of the girls get dressed. Then I heard that Trelise, who is notorious for being late, was missing an entire truck of clothing and it’d be awhile until anyone started getting naked. Before I threw my hands up in disappointment and ran back to my seat I spotted a girl with full-face piercings and asked to take her photo. I fanned out so hard and was extremely pleased with myself thinking I had just landed a pic of the coolest girl at New Zealand Fashion Week. But after a full hour of waiting crossing and uncrossing my legs because I had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t since “the show was about to start” the same girl came out along with 10 others in the exact same look. About 150 looks later, I had tears streaming down my face as I laughed in disbelief that models were STILL coming out, plus I still had to pee. Even though the show was so insanely long and that Trelise just said “Screw it, I’m going to rip off Vivienne Westwood and also make one of EVERYTHING this season because I don’t know what else to do,” it was all saved because she actually took a risk with the makeup. Shout out to the tiny girl who couldn’t walk in her shoes and was bleeding all over the runway. I prayed for you.
Best Runway Show - Zambesi
Designers Elisabeth and Neville Findlay probably could have sent models totally naked down a runway and I still would have said it was the best show of New Zealand Fashion Week. Thankfully for everyone’s sake and my journalistic integrity they actually put people in clothing. It’s really hard for me not to obsess over the duo. They run the kind of fashion house that’s so chic and well made that it reminds you why you love fashion in the first place. They’re so cool I seriously even sat there questioning myself as to whether or not I was cool enough to even be allowed at the show and if the outfit I was wearing looked stupid next to all of their designs. Did I wear enough black and leather? Am I lame for not wearing creepers? Surely their intention isn’t to make anyone feel inferior to their clothing, if anything their show this season which featured a slew of gorgeous models getting ready right on stage, was a tribute to their Kiwiana roots. Zambesi is the kind of brand that any country would be proud to call their own because they’re proud of their people and where they come from. But in all seriousness... Did my shoes look OK? I only hope I added to the live stream of your fashion show and didn’t fuck it up. Let me know.
Most New York Presentation - UNDERGROUND
Of course I’m not going to say anything bad about a young, edgy designer presentation that takes place in the basement of a building; that would be hypocritical. This “hipster showcase” that featured designs from Jimmy D. Maike, Underground Sundae, Otsu, Blue Blank, Jessica Grubisa, Eugnie, Kowtow, and Thistle Brown was just as everyone initially described to me, “So VICE!” That each of the designer's pieces displayed a more Bushwick-warehouse-afterhours vibe than the next was actually impressive. I was able to walk through the installation a full two times before the customary behavior at most fashion events kicked in, where my body is uncontrollably yanked toward the bar. I even took the time to take photos of every single designer booth, but I was so overstimulated by all of the glitter and coolness that I couldn’t pick proper photo filters. So only half of them made the ol' Instagram. Typical.
Thanks again to Anna Jobsz PR and the rest of the team at New Zealand Fashion Week for taking a risk and inviting me back!
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