Unseen heroes of Hokonui Awards

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2013
Helen McCurdy and Frances Michels
LOUISE BERWICK/Fairfax NZ
BEHIND THE SCENES: Hokonui Fashion Awards long-serving volunteers Helen McCurdy, left, and Frances Michels know how to keep a show running smoothly – they have been volunteering in wardrobe for about 10 years.

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Backstage at the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards can be a hectic place - something perhaps no-one knows better than behind-the-scenes volunteers.

However, long-serving volunteers Frances Michels and Helen McCurdy said the fast-paced atmosphere and the opportunity to see up close what aspiring designers had created was what kept them coming back year after year.

The two women join a team of 17 volunteers and nearly 40 models that form the backbone of the Hokonui Fashion Awards, held every year in Gore.

Mrs McCurdy, an interior designer, has been volunteering for the awards for about eight years, and said it was exciting seeing what young up-and-coming designers created each year.

"It's really enjoyable seeing how they use the theme each year," she said.

Fellow wardrobe volunteer and Fashion Awards alumni, Ms Michels, said seeing all the designs was "certainly the drawcard".

But the role was not all about admiring garments backstage - the life of a volunteer also required keeping an eye on the daily running of things, they said.

Part of their responsibilities included co-ordinating fitting days, the running sheets, liaising with models and ensuring garments were worn correctly, Mrs McCurdy said.

"We don't actually get to see the show until three weeks later, on DVD," she said.

Hokonui Fashion Design Awards executive producer Heather Paterson said that without the help of volunteers, running the awards each year would be "impossible".

"The team I have is vital to the success of the awards, as they all work well together as a team and give so much of their time to the event.

"They work in a very calm way so we have a happy atmosphere behind the scenes - stress-free."

Most of her volunteers had been involved for more than five years, some much longer, travelling from all over Southland and Central Otago, she said.

The Hokonui Fashion Design Awards will be held at the Town and Country Stadium in Gore on Friday and Saturday.

bridget.railton@stl.co.nz

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