New Zealand Fashion Week
26 August 2019 - 1 September 2019


Meet The NZFW Ambassadors w/ Sarah Stuart

Tell us a bit about you, your story and why you’re excited to be an ambassador for NZFW 2019

I’m so looking forward to being a NZFW ambassador as it’s such an important platform that supports the industry I work in and it’s my favourite fashion week of the year. I first got to experience NZFW when I was a dresser backstage my first year of AUT and I loved the excitement and chaos of it, it was addictive and I’ve been involved in some way most years since then. I enjoy people watching and I always check out who is in the front row, and which international buyers and celebrities have taken the time to come and visit and see NZFW. My many experiences in  London attending and working backstage with Masha Mombelli for Ekaterina Kukhareva as well as attending Australian Fashion Week has given me an international perspective on it and I appreciate how hard our team in NZ work to deliver an event that’s on such a big scale for our local designers and brands.

What is your favourite NZFW memory?

It’s pretty hard to choose as I have so many but my favourite show that really wowed me was Jaeha Kim’s impressionable and polarising show in 2008 staged in the packed St Matthew’s in the City. It was not only memorable and well put together show but for Jaeha’s first year out of university he hit it out of the park. I also loved NOM*d’s installation for their Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, Danse Macabre. It was a clever installation with couples smoking, drinking, kissing and singing on a staged bed scene that was highly memorable. Installations were a new thing at the time so I remember thinking how innovative it was.

Most recently I loved styling the Carlson show at NZFW 2017. It was Tanya’s 20th anniversary so it was pretty special and it was held in the stunning Mason Bros. building by Warren and Mahoney. It was such an honour to work so closely alongside someone with such talent and for her to trust my concepts and run with any crazy idea I came up. Usually Stylists are brought in once the collection is complete but we worked together on the development of it as well and I was thrilled with how it all came together and the fantastic reception it got on the night.

Who are you most excited to see show this year, including any New Gen talent?

Zambesi are celebrating their 4oth anniversary this year which is amazing and I can’t wait for their show as I know it’s going to be brilliant. I’m also looking forward to seeing what Hailwood does to celebrate his 20th anniversary as his shows are always so glamorous. I really enjoyed watching Project Runway last year so I’m excited to see what Benjamin Alexander brings to the runway, I loved his sophisticated aesthetic on the show. I’m always on the lookout for new talent and I can’t wait to see what Havilah and Olli do this year as I enjoyed their debut presentations last year. As always I’m looking forward to Kate Sylvester’s show as she always delivers something thoughtful and beautiful that makes me want to buy every piece. 

Sustainability, inclusivity & business success are at the heart of the event this year. Do these themes resonate with you and why?

As part of my job I dress a diverse group of humans of all sizes, genders and body shapes so I’m all about being inclusive and it’s what I look to from fashion brands as well. Sustainability is so important and it’s great to see the industry focusing more on it. I love supporting NZ designers and it’s wonderful to see them embracing sustainability if it wasn’t already part of their brand ethos. Personally I support Dress for Success as they give new life to clothes helping women who need workwear get back into the workforce. I’m all for getting clothes altered and amended to give them more wears and another life.

Because I dress a range of presenters for television I’m able to support NZ designers by giving them exposure on tv and it’s important to me to support local brands as much as possible. 

What inspires you about the New Zealand fashion industry?

I love that this industry is so passionate, hardworking and supportive of each other. Creative fields aren’t easy but the people that are in fashion usually really want to be there and bring their talent, ideas and strong work ethic to everything they do which makes the industry exciting and inspiring. It’s also challenging and the closures of some great local brands makes us realise how important it is to support NZ designers.

What key fashion trends are you anticipating seeing on the catwalk this year?

We’re only halfway through the year but as I pay attention to the international fashion weeks 2019 has been “peak” everything: peak maximalism, peak celebrity, peak influencer, even peak minimalism as a reaction to all of that. I noticed at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia that the hem lines are getting shorter, there was neon ( the Prada effect), detail has moved from the sleeves to the shoulders, think Orseund Iris Princess top. I also noticed a lot of pastels coming through which we’re also seeing in some of the spring collections at the moment. On a recent trip to the US along with the shorter hemlines I  noticed a rise of animal print; tiger stripes, python, zebra, you name it. Also, lots of mini accessories like the mini Jacquemus Le Chiquito bag which I love. 

What are your thoughts on the new event location? 

It will be great to revisit the birthplace of fashion week, it was such an amazing first event in 2001 (not that I was there but I remember hearing about it when I was in school). The Town Hall is such an intimate venue full of heritage and I love the history of it so it will be interesting to see if the change of venue informs any of the designer’s shows.

During the week on social media what are you wanting to spotlight on your personal platforms? 

My own social media is a mix of work and play and I’ll be documenting interesting things that catch my eye and using my platforms to showcase the talent of the designers. I’m interested in seeing what the big names do and also young and up and coming NZ talent. I love street style so I’ll be curious to see what looks people are wearing and documenting my favourite outfits of my own too.

What inspires you?

I love the creativity and individualism of street style and seeing how people put things together and the unique touches they add to make a look their own. We live in such a visual world now and getting to see so many different people’s points of view on the likes of Instagram is fascinating. I look to some of my favourite designers every season for inspiration as well as the cool things I see on my travels. For 2019 I believe the only real “trend” is dressing for yourself and doing it with authenticity.

What are the go-to items that get you through the hectic week that is NZFW (your survival kit)?

Tonnes of water and as much sleep as possible are key as they’re long days with lots going on. A good eye cream is important as are regular hydrating masks in the evening once I’ve taken off my makeup. I don’t drink during fashion week as I want to stay fresh. I carry Vitamin C, a mini lint roller, clear eyes, battery charger, nuts, protein bars, mints, powerbank, hydration spray, notebooks, pens, my diary ( I am old school and like a written one) sewing kit ,wet wipes, hair comb and make up for touch ups. It’s a bit of a list but trust me they’re all essentials as I don’t spend much time at home during fashion week.

 Anything else you want to tell us?

Fashion week is a great way to connect with other people in the industry and make valuable contacts. They can be unplanned and organic connections but can lead to great things. I know for my profession I am always looking for new designers and contacts that will be useful for my job. If you are looking to get into fashion then this is the week to try and attend, whether it be volunteering or on the weekend. I met my amazing predecessor at New Zealand Fashion Week years ago and it was one of the key catalysts for the career I have today.

Megan Cunningham