The Mirror has two faces - Annah Stretton introduces BLACK
The 26th of August will mark the 14th time that Annah Stretton has showcased her ready-to-wear collection on the New Zealand Fashion Week Runway. A long term supporter of NZ Fashion Week, Annah sees it not only as the opportunity to celebrate the very best her brand can be, but also a way to say thank you to the loyal following of customers and partnerships that she has built up during the course of her almost 25 years in the fashion industry.
This year’s collection, titled ‘Mirror Mirror’, comes straight from the streets of Japan – both past and present. It takes the sophistication and structure of ancient Japanese culture and contrasts that with the colourful rebellion that plays out on the streets of Japan today through the Ganguro style dresser. Taking to the runway with her recently launched Black label, alongside her trademark Pink label, Annah is able to demonstrate the perfect harmony that can exist among the diversity of human life.
Her collection juxtaposes different generations, styles and patterns to celebrate contrast and individuality. Images from the Mirror Mirror collection will be available online immediately following fashion week.
How did you arrive at the theme for the show – Mirror Mirror? It’s a reflection of me wanting to consider why we show, rather than what we show. I keep coming back to the pumping heart of the company and the social change that we are driving daily for so many women. Mirror Mirror is a show illustrating that what we see each day when we look in the mirror is not the only dimension to who we are - the mirror will always have two faces. Who we are comes from within, and from our behaviours. The chameleon personality that most of us showcase daily has a pink and a black side, hence the two collections will take to the catwalk under the one theme - MIRROR MIRROR - to show that harmony can be achieved through difference.
What is the over-arching message that you are trying to convey through the entire production - the collection, the set and the music? We have used a Japanese flavour to the fashion and displayed it in a mirror enhanced setting, to reflect the absolute juxtaposition of the two collections living in harmony, just as they do in Japanese street style. The mirror will always have two faces, just as the Annah Stretton Brand has, with the two themes of the collection becoming available in store under the Black and Pink labels. After almost 25 years in the market, so many women think they know the Annah Stretton brand and what the design flavour is. I challenge them to take another look, as all is not as it seems with the two new redefinitions of our labels.
Similarly, is there a deeper message that you are wanting to convey that extends beyond the show and the collection? The importance we place on self (and the mirror is symbolic of this) relative to the importance that we place on the others that we live among who are different to us. Do we have the balance right? I think not. What would our world look like if we simply joined together to advance each other, to celebrate our differences, just as they appear to do in Japan? Perspective is a great thing and respect for each other is another.
How would you describe each collection that you are showing at Fashion Week? BLACK - is all about timeless investment clothing. Clothes that you want to wear year after year and that say ‘I know what I want out of life’. The Black Collection is influenced by ancient Japanese masculine traditions. PINK - Prints, prints and more prints. Colour and prints that create a space for independent, spirited women. The Pink Collection is influenced by the colourful, modern day Japanese street fashion.
Where has the inspiration come for each collection? The fashion influences are Japanese past and present. We have submerged Black in the traditional tailoring of the Japanese past, drawing style influences from the masculine jacketing and knitwear. The collection reflects the wonderful styling that was very structured, disciplined and male dominated. Pink is a modern day take on the extreme colour and print mixes worn on the streets of Japan by young women - Ganguro style. There is nothing else quite like this in the world and it sits in perfect harmony with the traditional fashions of the past and present that are still very apparent in the streets of Japan today. Here the mirror truly has two faces that work in perfect harmony together.
Is there a signature piece or hero piece within the collection that really sums up what you were trying to achieve with this collection? Black has its signature piece in the incredible back jackets that dominate the collection. Pink is a potpourri of clever print mixing that truly has a ‘Ganguro’ Japanese street flavour, enhanced with incredible sophistication. The signature pieces here are the wonderful dresses that have been created .
Why are you bringing both labels to the runway? The relaunch of the Pink and Black brands across July/ August this year has really given clarity to what, in the past, was a very crowded collection that caused some confusion amongst customers. The winter 2016 collection and the fashion week platform is a great way to showcase the polar opposite design brief that attaches to each label and at the same time, show the synergies that exist between the collections - opposites attract! We are now very much a fashion house that has two very strong faces - just like the mirror!
How much of what we see on the runway will make its way into the store/online? With this collection possibly 80 % of each collection will make its way in to the market. We always want to design and add ‘catwalk only’ pieces as this gives the absolute, and very necessary, elevated presence to the show.
When can we expect to be able to buy it? From February 2016.
You have been a regular exhibitor at Fashion Week, why do you keep coming back? Yes I have. Fashion week provides a wonderful platform to showcase and celebrate the very best the brand can be. It also enables me to thank all those wonderful VIP customers that have supported us throughout the years and celebrate the corporate collaborations and relationships that I have developed. The show also creates images for the media to use that drive interest in the brand both internationally and nationally.
How do you measure your success for the investment in time, energy and dollars required to put this production together? I don’t. I simply see it as an investment in the brand. It provides a fabulous window into the brand and a feel good factor for our VIP customers and corporate supporters. Is it something that you will continue to support going forward? At this stage yes, but as with any investment of this magnitude, I review it on a year by-year basis.