Zambesi’s 40th anniversary show

Zambesi is marking 40 years at the leading edge of the fashion scene with two must-see shows at New Zealand Fashion Week.

A retrospective show on the runway at Auckland Town Hall on August 30 will present four decades of favourites from the Zambesi archives, modelled by members of the extended “Zamfam” and styled by the Zambesi team including former staffers Tulia Wilson and Terzann Elliott.

The show opens with a special performance from Anika Moa and models include singers Stan Walker and Moana Maniapoto, DJ Half Queen (aka Shaki Wasasala) and Danielle Hayes, who is making this her last-ever runway appearance before retiring from modelling.

The show, which opens NZ Fashion Weekend, offers a chance to reflect on the development of a uniquely New Zealand brand which has never strayed from the fundamentals – fine fabrics, expert tailoring and clever design.

Co-founder Elisabeth Findlay says customers make an emotional connection with Zambesi, which has remained consistent and original throughout its history, meaning pieces from decades past can be mixed with contemporary ones.

Customers are renowned for their loyalty, with some wearing nothing but Zambesi and passing much-loved pieces from one generation to the next.

“Clothes from 40 years ago can still be worn now – the Zambesi wardrobe is timeless and still relevant,” says Elisabeth. “Like old friends, people hold on to their Zambesi pieces.”

There is a New Zealand attitude apparent in Zambesi clothes too. They are beautiful but not at all fussy. And while they are recognisable to those in the know, Zambesi clothes never shout. There is a subtlety and effortlessness to them.

“The clothes are comfortable, they give you confidence,” says Elisabeth. “You can rely on Zambesi clothes.”

While the retrospective show takes a look back at the brand’s journey from a handful of designs to the thousands now in its archive, the Winter 2020 collection show at Central City Library on August 29 provides a glimpse into the brand’s future.

“It’s a challenging and rewarding industry, you never feel like you’ve nailed it,” says Elisabeth. “That’s what attracts us to it, it’s an ongoing journey. It’s a beautiful thing in a way.”

As always, the new-season show is a family affair, with the couple’s daughters taking leading roles. Marissa Findlay will direct the show and Sophie Findlay will direct the music.

Zambesi Winter 2020 invitation-only presentation is being held at Auckland’s Central City Library on August 29 at 8.30pm.

Zambesi Since 1979: 40 Years of Fashion show will take place on the runway at Auckland Town on Friday August 30 at 8.30pm. Buy tickets here.

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