NZFW 2014: Review – Zambesi

Zambesi NZFW 2014. Photo/Joanna Suciu

By Fiona Hawtin.

Forgive me at the outset if I become overly sentimental. I’ve been a long-time fan of Zambesi and the show, which closed the second day of New Zealand Fashion Week, was celebrating its 35th year in business.

Down on the schedule for an 8.45pm start you always know the real start time will be 30 minutes later give or take. This was an hour, through no fault of their own. Earlier Andrea Moore was 30 minutes late and Juliette Hogan, the show immediately prior to Zambesi, was an hour behind. Rumour has it Juliette’s finale dress split and emergency repairs were carried out on it. All of which sharpened the anticipation for what would come.

And while I’m going to go down the sentimental track, Zambesi did anything but. The show may have been called XXV but there the indulgence ended. Instead, the family label – Elisabeth Findlay firmly at the design helm, Neville all over operations and daughters Marissa and Sophie show producer and music designer respectively – looked to the future as all the best designers do. Two large doors parted spaceship-style, the Flash Gordon theme started up and out came the brave new Zambesi world.

“Flash – a-ah – saviour of the universe, Flash – a-ah – he’ll save every one of us.” Make that “Liz – a-ah – master of the universe, Liz – a-ah, she’ll dress every one of us.”

Yes, there was plenty of the signature tailoring, amazing fabric and beloved black for both women and men, as Elisabeth and menswear designer Dayne Johnston feed creatively off each other. The Zambesi loyalists who want to buy beautiful pants season after season will be very happy.

But they weren’t resting on their laurels and simply reprising what has gone before. So, boiled donkey brown wool became a slouchy dressing gown. There were futuristic sharp neoprene dresses and tops, a little fringing, the odd matt sequin, shot green parkas and want-it-now lilac angora slouchy knits.

The real scene-stealers though were the luxe two-tone blankets across the shoulders of some models and the indigo men’s and women’s precision suiting. To. Die. For.

When our fashion world is becoming more global and about fast, disposable fashion it is reassuring to see Zambesi has faith in beautifully constructed clothes that are made to last.

Runway: Zambesi NZFW 2014