Real Housewives of Auckland: Just how glamourous and well-connected are they?
As the Real Housewives of Auckland were finally revealed in billowing clouds of dry ice, after months of rumours and speculation, the collective question among TV viewers was who?
Six Auckland women - two former models, a socialite, a broadcaster and several businesswomen - have bravely put themselves forward for public scrutiny, to be goggled at by their peers, a notoriously hard-to-please bunch.
The PR material accompanying their unveiling is hardly flattering, mentioning their "enormous egos" and warning that "one stiletto out of place could shift anyone on to the blacklist and trigger social suicide".
Who knew Auckland society, such as it is, could be so cutthroat? And just how "elite" and well-connected are these "luxury-loving" housewives?
Top ranking has to go to Gilda Kirkpatrick, the producers' best get. She is the former wife of rich-lister James Kirkpatrick, and still lives in the "wedding cake" mansion they shared on Paritai Drive. It would make a great set for any girls' lunches or parties to be filmed for the show, if producers can convince her to play hostess.
Born in Iran, Kirkpatrick runs the advertising consultancy Rascals and is a fixture on the Auckland social scene. Mothering a toddler and seven-month-old baby doesn't seem to have really slowed her down.
Her neighbour, former journalist Louise Wallace, is a curious choice for the Housewives.
The longtime host of 60 Minutes has tried her hand at acting, established a theatre company, and of late has been a reality television "field director". As such she will know exactly what is required to make splashy, "talkable" television, but how real will it be?
In any case, Wallace can be relied on to bring drama. Remember her terrifying turn as the host of The Weakest Link? "You are the weakest link, goodbye."
Stylist and former model Angela Stone was the first Housewife revealed, when she told Stuff she had been cast back in January. She said, "I think the show is going to showcase the glamour of our lives, but also the hard work ? and we do work very, very hard."
Her partner is the very dapper Business New Zealand chief executive Kirk Hope. It is understood they recently moved into an apartment together in Freemans Bay.
Stone, a mother of three, runs a styling company and splits her time between Christchurch and Auckland. Her business website describes her as the country's "leading personal stylist and lifestyle guru". In addition to giving people tips on personal presentation, she offers a business coaching service.
Her website says, "For decades, Angela Stone has built her empire on one thing. Angela Stone = Success."
Presumably Champagne importer Anne Batley-Burton, who brands herself the "Champagne Lady", throws a good party. She and her husband, the delightfully-named Richard Burton, own a home in France and an olive oil estate in Huapai.
A former champion ballroom dancer, Batley-Burton is also verging on crazy cat-lady with her devotion to feeding and caring for strays. She established the New Zealand Cat Foundation, which houses older strays in a facility called the "Pussy Palace for Pensioners" and de-sexes cats.
Julia Sloane, former wife of Dunbar Sloane - the man behind storied auction house Dunbar Sloane - runs a business providing hospitality staff to restaurants and bars, called Bestaff. She recently remarried and is living in Parnell.
She has written five books for children, including Dad Takes Me Camping and Farmyard Chorus, and is working on her sixth.
The last housewife, former model Michelle Blanchard, comes from London and is a serious high-fashion shopper. She lives with her businessman husband and two teenaged children in Coatesville. In 2012 she told The NZHerald about shopping for her fashionista children, and the importance of buying quality clothing.
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