Culture

Miss Crabb’s loyal celebrity customers share their favourite memories of the brand

Article by Fashion Quarterly

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Miss Crabb will close its doors at the end of March, leaving behind a legacy of irreverence and creativity.

Over 15 years, designer Kristine Crabb developed a cult following among Kiwi women who were drawn to her independent spirit and respect for their bodies and tastes.

Some of her biggest admirers – and oldest friends – pay tribute:


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 Noelle McCarthy, journalist

“Miss Crabb has been making my life better on a daily basis for the past 15 years. I try to wear a Miss Crabb dress or camisole or coat or scarf or something every day – just a little bit of beauty to help me feel powerful and face whatever’s on.

I first met Kristine back in the Rip Shit and Bust days, when she was doing Non, a perfect name for a label – “elegance is refusal” as Coco Chanel said. Rip Shit and Bust was such a cool shop, like nothing I’d ever seen before, a whole top floor of a building, with stucco frescos on the ceiling and views out over K’ Road. Kristine was an amazing chatelaine – incredible looking, with perfect geometric eyeliner and her short red hair in kiss curls. She blew my mind. The clothes were so cool I was nearly too scared to buy anything.

Eventually, I got a lilac top that you could fasten a few ways and a pale pink skirt with the most amazing long train, both of which I left too long in a Ponsonby dry cleaner; it closed down and I lost them. I still think about that skirt and top way too often.

Her garments are an absolute reflection of the singular way she sees the world. They made me unafraid to be different, and feel like myself even while I was still growing into myself.

Thankfully, there was Miss Crabb a year or so later and a new shop on Ponsonby Road. I still have every stitch I bought in there, except for a few pieces I’ve given to friends (and reserve the right to take back at a moment’s notice). These are clothes that have travelled through life with me, moved countries with me, carried me through the most important moments in my career, been there for the happiest times, and given their splashes of colour and comfort during the hard parts. They’re constant because they’re beautiful and classic and made with ingenuity and integrity.

Kristine is an artist and a rare one – a woman who does what she does entirely on her own terms. Her garments are an absolute reflection of the singular way she sees the world. They made me unafraid to be different, and feel like myself even while I was still growing into myself.

I’m so happy that Kristine is moving into the next chapter of her life and grateful for all our collaborations over the years. (And for the dresses! Especially for the dresses!)

Here’s to Miss Crabb and its genius celebration of creativity and femininity. Here’s to Kristine: designer, artist, mama, fox, friend. You da wheels ’n’ heels, baby. Thank you for showing me how to wear silks in New World and bring flowers to every single event. You’re amazing. I can’t wait to see what you do next.”


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Bic Runga, musician

“My admiration and respect for Kristine started when I first visited Rip Shit and Bust 20 years ago. I remember going there and thinking it was unlike anything I’d ever seen; everything was a one-off creation, handmade, cool and irreverent. At a time when there wasn’t a lot of stuff around, it made me think of Auckland as a burgeoning exciting, creative city.

When Kristine opened the Miss Crabb boutique on Ponsonby Road, while keeping its punk pedigree it morphed into this ultra-glamorous and luxurious brand – or more than a brand, maybe a way of thinking, that you could feel free and glamorous and original right here in little old New Zealand.

With her love of music and her support of local musicians, Miss Crabb seemed like our answer to Vivienne Westwood. I always think of Kristine as an artist and punk-spirited visionary first, and then a fashion designer. She’s always been dressing musicians and underground bands and helping us achieve our dreams; there’s a consistent thread to her philosophy, one of dreaming and fantasy.

When I got to know Kristine better over 10 years or so, I also loved how savvy she was in business – so practical and confident. As someone who had to marry art and commerce, I just loved how strong she was – how good she is at all of it.

Miss Crabb has made Auckland a better place, in my opinion. Everything she offered us was always cool, always artistic, always sexy and beautiful.”

In a world heaving with too many clothes and fast fashion, Miss Crabb’s handmade ethos and utter uniqueness will really be missed.


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Anika Moa, musician

“Bic Runga introduced me to Miss Crabb back in the early 2000s when we were touring around Aotearoa, and sometimes the UK and Ireland too. I used to buy clothes from Glassons and think I was so flash, so it was a huge step up, believe me.

Wearing a Miss Crabb creation is like wearing her art, ideas and womanhood around you. Her designs are always sharp but blunt, full yet so bare and glam – but you somehow feel like you’re still part of the earth. Like an earth mother or something – hippy drippy without the drip! She’s basically every woman in Aotearoa. Her creations always make me feel sexy as fuck and you don’t have to take your body apart then put back together again to wear her gems. It’s just a full shrug on, then you’re off to some awards ceremony or to the beach. Ya dig?

I’ll miss her work but because she’s my friend, I’ll force her to dress me even if she moves up north and starts a lemonade popsicle business. We love you, Kristine Crabb!”

Keep reading: These are the Miss Crabb pieces our editors are stocking up on before the brand closes down


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Tiffany Jeans, Curionoir founder

“I’ve worn Miss Crabb for many meaningful moments in my life: my wedding, my 30th and other birthdays, straight after giving birth to my babies. I love swanning around in my Miss Crabb robes. My eldest daughter had a piece custom-made by Kristine for her first dance, and my staff at Curionoir all wear custom-made uniforms.

I always felt like ‘we’ who wear Miss Crabb have an opinion.

Over the years, Kristine consistently developed her own signature, never following trends. Her philosophy has always been strong and graceful, and the detail and construction of her work is unlike any other. I always felt like ‘we’ who wear Miss Crabb have an opinion.”


This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly, Issue 1, 2019.

Images: Supplied

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