Thursday, September 17, 2009

Belt tightening at Fashion Week

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NZPA

Times are tough in fashion and Air New Zealand Fashion Week will reflect that. Belts are being tightened to save money. STACEY KNOTT of NZPA talks to two designers who combined forces to drastically cut costs for next week's show.

Fashion Week is a glitzy affair, but it is expensive. For a designer to put on a show to get media and buyers attention, it can cost upward of $20,000.

For the first time, Juliette Hogan, designer for her self-named label, and Anjali Stewart, one half of Twenty-Seven Names, have decided to combine forces and next week share the Auckland runway.

Though sharing something so crucial to commercial success is no easy feat, both said they could not do it with anyone else.

With Hogan in Auckland and Stewart in Wellington, there have been plenty of phone calls, emails and visits to organise the show.

They have had to decide on the models, hair and make-up, lighting, music, who they would invite, then send out invitations.

It has taken months of planning, thousands of dollars, and plenty of sleepless nights to put it all together.

Hogan likened the preparations to writing an essay at university.

She started vaguely thinking about her show three months before the event, but it was always a mad rush in the last minute to pull it together.

"Like writing an essay, you do the research in the two months but actually start writing it in the last two weeks when you have done all the research and looked around and it's all there in your head," she told NZPA.

"It works for me but it's a horrible way to work and I hate it but there's no way of getting away from it."

The designers said the recession has made them think about how they run their businesses.

Hogan started her label when the fashion industry was experiencing a boom. Her first Fashion Week show was in 2006 and she had the luxury to spend a lot on her it, whereas now she was trimming costs wherever she could.

Simple things like invites can save hundreds of dollars, she said.

"This year it's all about email invites so we don't have to pay for envelopes and stamps, being really cost conscious.

"When I first did the show it was expensive. You do the budget at the beginning and realise it costs $800 to put out tickets.

"Last year I made stupid big invitations because I thought they would look beautiful, then they cost $1.50...and you just don't think about it."

While both designers were coy over what to expect next week, both said their collections would evolve from their summer ones.

"We are looking at a musician again, it was Jimi Hendrix for summer, and this time we are looking at another notable musician and a performance artist.
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"It's not like we have intentionally decided to use a major musician for the last few seasons, it just happened," Stewart said.

Hogan said she was sticking to her "well-mannered girl" look.

Apart from the 15-minute show, they are most looking forward to it all being over.

"It becomes your world; this show at Fashion Week is what my life is about, you put it on and the people see the clothes for maybe 30 seconds then in two minutes it's over."

Despite that, they both said it was worth in it terms of the media coverage and the chance to show the story behind the collections.

"It becomes addictive, when you are putting on a show you are showing the collection and your brand story with music, hair and make-up and lighting you really get to portray how you want it that's the only way you can say `this is what my brand is about'," Hogan said.