Moody Antipodean Dreams of NZ Style


I feel like talking about style geography for a couple of posts. What is New Zealand style? My overseas friends ask me, sometimes. I think of breezy, pure-faced beauties, I give them names and imaginary lives.

Angela lives in central Auckland and transposes a clean, minimalist beachiness onto rich-girl dressing….

Aroha lives in West Auckland or Waiheke and drapes her lanky limbs in avant-garde merino, feather-trimmed woven-flax, and large jade or bone jewelry…

Winona lives in Wellington, her hair chopped into an artful bob against the Wellington gales, and is delicately quirky in hand-made hats and brooches and clever sundresses…

None of them wear enough lipstick. But the clothes dreamed up by New Zealand designers fit their straight up-and-down, tubular-belle  bodies beautifully.

Oh, how I dream of edgy New Zealand fashion. Of drifting around and hanging my Bill Hammond paintings while draped in a Cybele tunic. Wearing radical Ricochet or strapping Minnie Cooper or Minx shoes on my feet. But I am confounded by fit. They don’t make clothes for hourglass figures here. For a petite hourglass, Ricochet pants gap at the waist and the extra ankle length slumps on the ground. Minnie Cooper stopped making shoes in my foot size, and Minx never did. Cybele’s stuff – on my imaginary beautiful frenemies Angela and Aroha, it looks like a moody Antipodean dream, but not on me.

The white tunic top with the twist in it makes me especially sad.

Oh elegantly draped Antipodean casual-expensive style. WHY DO YOU TORMENT ME SO.

I sat down to think of an NZ clothing supplier that I like, that suits me. And the one I came up with is Australian. I rather adore Cue, because the beautiful clothes, for once, fit me reasonably well. Somewhere in Australia, saying “Crikey, mate” over her Foster’s and a kangaroo steak, is an hourglass fit model hired by Cue.

Once in a while I’ll thrift up something from a Kiwi designer that works. From Workshop, or Kate Sylvester, or defunct designer lines like Glory and DNA. Short and hourglassy, I have luck in Wellington at Tempt, at Duncan and Prudence, and at Good Score. When I lived closer, Moa Boutique in Auckland let me live the dream of a modicum of NZ style and good fit.

I’ll go back there again someday. In the meantime, I’ll dream an Antipodean dream…


  1. Yes, yes yes! I’m petite, but have an incurable sway-back. My best fitting pants are all vintage, and jean shopping is a nightmare! Cue is brilliant for its tailoring alone – am always garantueed a good fit.


    • Cue is a stealth petites designer! In there today trying on a coat that…fitted perfectly? What is this sorcery?


  2. Which brings the question, why does Cue advertise on skinny, tubular models that look dreadful in their clothes!?!

    For NZ designers who do curves, what about WORLD? I know that Denise made that dreadful comment about hiring models to be skinny so she doesn’t have to, but really, the clothes look best on size 12 and up beauties with distinct thighs. Which is why I own so many WORLD pieces.

    And, as dreadful as it sounds, Trelisse Cooper’s drapers may not cut for curves, but they do cut for the thicker, middle ages NZ female – not the catwalk model.


    • WORLD, eh? I’ll check them out and see what’s hiding behind the avant-garde. A friend of mine fell for a pair of WORLD trousers a few years ago – she was out $399, but she still has and wears the trousers.

      Trelise Cooper’s drapers are forgiving, but also cut for that taller NZ female. I remember the time I modeled for your corsetry show, and when we models were all lined up, I was markedly shorter than everyone else – in my 3-inch heels! 😀


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