Paula Bennett struts her stuff

BLUE STEEL: Paula Bennett makes it work on the catwalk.
BLUE STEEL: Paula Bennett makes it work on the catwalk.

Paula Bennett has never been known as a shrinking violet and stayed true to herself when she trod the catwalk as part of Wellington Fashion Week.

The Social Development Minister was modelling clothes by The Carpenter's Daughter, a company which specialises in ''curvy'' women, in a show at Shed 6 on the waterfront.

The firm's founder, Catherine Marr, has known Bennett since before she entered politics.

Seizing the chance to be the centre of attention outside the grey confines of the Beehive or the raucous halls of Parliament, Bennett did not disappoint the assembled fashionistas.

The minister walked out in a burst of pumping techno music wearing a black dress with cheetah designs on it.

As a variation on leopardskin, the designer had chosen to use drawings of cheetahs, singularly and in pairs.

Next outfit was a flouncy technicolour pastel design, the Bon Voyage Dress, worth $239.

Her third appearance continued the animal-print theme, with a ''Floral Zebra'' black and white striped jacket picked out with colourful floral designs over a dress in the same pattern. The dress sells for $255.

Seeming to grow in confidence as the show went on, Bennett began to play for the cameras at the top of the catwalk and winked and waved at audience members.

The fourth design was a striking pink patterned jacket over a black dress with yellow, red, blue and green splodges.

 For her final look she wore a black dress with diaphanous lace over the top. Fashion insiders in the crowd named this their favourite.

Fellow National MP Alfred Ngaro went along out to see his colleague.

''My favourite was the one with the [pink] jacket which had a paisley sort of design,'' he said. ''If it was for a good cause I definitely would have a go [as a model].''

Fairfax Media