Model remembered at NZ Fashion Week

FOUNDER: Director of New Zealand Fashion Week Pieter Stewart opened the event.
FOUNDER: Director of New Zealand Fashion Week Pieter Stewart opened the event.

A moment of silence for the late Charlotte Dawson was held at the beginning of NZ Fashion Week tonight.

A former model and television presenter, Dawson was found dead in her Sydney apartment  in February.

Dame Pieter Stewart opened the fashion event by saying Dawson had always been a supporter of fashion week, and had walked several times herself. 

‘‘Like many of you here, we knew Charlotte and are very saddened by her passing.’’

Designer Kate Sylvester used her speech at the event to encourage more Government investment  in young fashion designers to make the industry more viable.

‘‘I look around and I see incredibly talented young designers who could do with a helping hand to show first here in NZ and then further  afield.’’

New Zealand was facing a ‘‘global tsunami’’ of international brands flooding the market, and the Government needed to be supporting the industry rather than placing all their trade focus on ‘‘mutton and milk’’, she said.

Her speech gained the loudest applause among hundreds of fashion  followers at the Viaduct Events Centre last night - including Auckland Mayor Len Brown, designer Dame Trelise Cooper and television stars  Petra Bagust and Colin Mathura-Jeffree.  MPs  Nikki Kaye and Jacinda Ardern also attended. 

Earlier, a designer took the unusual approach of leaping - attached to a harness - from Auckland's Sky Tower in an elaborate gown.

At least no-one could argue Wendy Jerard is not fashion forward - her sequinned, pink party dress caught the eye of spectators this morning.

"She's going to go far - she's got cheek, she's got charisma, and some of her frocks are just stunning," said friend John Robertson, who had travelled from Jerard's home town of Christchurch in support. 

"I'd be proud to take a girl out in those clothes, even at my age."

Her orchestrated drop was the first glimpse of glamour in New Zealand Fashion Week, which officially began with an opening party at the Viaduct Events Centre tonight.

Jerard, who used to be an air hostess and is also a trained nurse, said the jump had been more frightening than expected.

"I said I wasn't going to scream, but I did."

Her sewing skills had been put to use for a last minute dress alteration at the top of the Sky Tower to allow for the harness. 

Jerard would show her label Frances Gerard in the New Generation section of Fashion Week, along with emerging designers Amber Whitecliffe, Desiree, Wilson Trollope, Inhale Apparel, Nomsa Mabuto, amd ITZME.

The week is bookended by designers Nom*d and Kate Sylvester, who will show at 11am tomorrow and 8.30pm on Thursday night respectively.

Designer highlights in the middle will include Trelise Cooper, Stolen Girlfriends Club - whose offsite show will be held at Western Springs Stadium - Andrea Moore, Juliette Hogan, and Zambesi.

While celebrity models are being kept under wraps, five All Blacks will strut in Jockeys at the Resene Designer Selection Show on Thursday.

From Friday, the public can attend shows for Fashion Weekend, which includes the Miromoda Maori designer showcase, the New Zealand Weddings magazine collection show, and the Underground fashion installation in Silo Park.