Designing a fashion revolution

RACHEL WATTIE
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012
Abigail Moir
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Mixing it up: Abigail Moir in her Design Cartel, in Willis St, Wellington.

Miss Abigail
Miss Abigail: Royal Velvet Jacket $329.
Miss Abigail
Miss Abigail: Poppy top ($185), and scallop lace skirt ($219).

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Fashion designer Abigail Moir launched her debut collection and a novel fashion shop in Wellington this week.

Moir's fashion label Miss Abigail evokes a feminine, Victorian feel - its summer collection featuring dresses with Peter Pan collars and scalloped hems, fringe-hem shawls, high-waisted skirts and velvet fabrics. Garments come in pretty colours like orchid purple, olive green and red.

Her store, the Design Cartel, opened on the Willis and Manners St corner this week, stocking clothing and accessories for sale, including her own. The 29-year-old rents out shop floor space to a bunch of other designers and artists, all Kiwis, some of whom will be working in the Design Cartel, too, to take the load off running it alone.

"I wanted to do it with other designers so it's not such a massive thing on me, and to meet other designers because there were lots of other local designers that I knew," Moir says. "And I just thought it would be a good thing for Wellington to have all New Zealand-made designers, and to have a lot of upcoming designers."

She has leased out the building for three months to trial it out, but hopes to extend the lease and stay there long term.

After moving from Australia to Wellington last year, Moir won the Museum Art Hotel's Collection of Garments Award at Wellington Fashion Week 2012, earning $3000 plus the right to design the hotel staff's front-of-house uniforms.

Born in Britain, Moir moved to Sydney when she was 6. She studied for a diploma in clothing production at Sydney's Ultimo Tafe. Before she shifted here, though, she worked as a fashion designer in Sydney, designing for the surf and skate brand, Volcom Australia, and for Grip Australia's surfwear range, among other brands.

She also did contract work, designing the promotional girls' uniforms for marine electronics company Navico Australia, and global vehicles and engines company BRP.

"That's something I'd like to expand on - doing more uniforms for companies. I just worked from home, designing their stuff and then I got it made for them."

Moir decided to open a shop because designing for other people's stores means having to make things a year in advance, which is difficult as there are no fabric suppliers in Wellington.

"When I'm making summer stuff they're selling winter fabrics. So that's why I wanted to have my own shop, so I could just make things when I want."

Miss Abigail's prices range from $60 to about $400, and styles in the summer range include beachy and summery, casual, workwear and party dresses.

The winners of this year's Kirkcaldie & Stains Buy New Zealand Made New Designer award for their label Love Hotel, sisters Harriet and Ella Garland-Levett will work in the shop every Saturday selling their collection, which was inspired by the French Queen Marie Antoinette's style and by the Japanese kimono.

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Also stocked in Kirkcaldie & Stains, their range features chiffons, sheer dresses, kimono-style layers, Parisian lace pieces and garments screenprinted with images hand-drawn by the designers. The sisters recently added a new colour range of pink, blue, cream and black to their collection, which initially only came in muted colours. The sisters met Moir at Wellington Fashion Week.

Says Harriet Garland-Levett: "We are really inspired being around a group of people doing the same stuff as us in Wellington, and we want to push New Zealand-made as well."

The designers of Twelve Jewellery, Miss Philly and Jinx in the Sky, and artist Steph O'Shea will also work in the shop at 109 Willis St.

Other designers' work will be sold in the shop without the designers themselves present, such as clothing labels Artery, Desiree, Millicent, jewellery brands Danielle, Black Agnes and Etiquette Pony Show, and other boutique labels. Artists Becca O'Shea and Lucy McIntosh's work will also be sold.

- The Dominion Post

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