The fashion icon quit couture to focus on charity
When fashion mogul Dame Peter Stewart launched the first New Zealand Fashion Week in 2001, her goal was to provide a massive platform for homegrown designers.
Since then, Fashion Week has become a must-see event in Aotearoa, launching countless careers and brands, and showcasing Kiwi talent to the world.
Twenty years after selling the event to businessman Feroz Ali in 2021, Stewart is leaving couture for charity.
“I would like to take on some governance roles, and I am also looking for charities where I can help,” she says.
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“But I’m mostly just waiting to see what happens, because it’s been a while since I stopped running the business.”
The 76-year-old was involved in numerous charities and community service organizations, especially in relation to childhood cancer, before becoming a fashion week headliner.
вЂњWhen I got hooked on fashion week, I had to stop all of them.
The last Fashion Week took place in 2019, before the pandemic canceled all large gatherings.
Stewart says designers felt “up in the air” during this time, but the ability to sell and market digitally changed everything.
“Most designers have very strong online stores and for many it has been their lifesaver during Covid.”
For the upcoming fashion week scheduled for 2023, Stewart is looking forward to taking on the role of consultant.
“I am looking forward to speaking with Yasmine Farley, our new general manager, for some time.
She says she doesn’t spend much time in this role and is free to pursue other interests.
For fashion week aficionados, Stewart said: That’s right, we start working towards it. ”
Looking back on 20 years of fashion week, she wants to honor everyone who has been involved in the event over the decades.
“Twenty years is a long time and I couldn’t ask for more. It’s so important to thank everyone who made the brand what it is.”
Julia Luchars, designer and director of marketing and communications for Trellise Cooper, said it’s hard not to miss Fashion Week for three years.
“We were familiar with this beautiful platform to showcase our story and brand, and then we added a little bit of theatre, and all of a sudden it was taken away.”
She says brands have had to find ways to adapt, and the already established digital platforms have come to the rescue.
“I oversaw all the different digital interactions.Especially during the initial lockdown, there was a 14,000% increase in engagement across digital platforms.It was amazing.”
But she added, “There will always be a place for that amazing catwalk extravaganza.
Rookers hopes Fashion Week under new owners will bring not only fresh eyes, but new energy and excitement.
“It’s not about replacing, it’s about building on, especially pre-pandemic conditions. For those in the industry, Fashion Week is a showcase of hard work with a mix of theatrics, excitement and levels of passion.”
Margi Robertson, founder of fashion design label NOM*d, says the pandemic has exacerbated the need for a digital presence.
But it’s the atmosphere, she says, that can’t be recreated digitally.
“I missed the runway show. Fashion week was an opportunity to do our own show, to our own music, with our own models.”
Hats off to Stewart for having the courage to “stick with it” for 20 years.
“What is she [Stewart] What was achieved in her time was incredible. I think she was learning along the way, like everyone else.
“But I think it’s also great to let go and embrace new ideas. We’re entering a new era, not just in fashion, but globally.”
She said she’s looking forward to seeing what happens at the next Fashion Week event, “like everyone else.”
Dame Peter’s daughter, Miken Stewart, hopes next year’s fashion week will be bigger and better than ever.
“I hope Feroz continues all the great work we have started, making it more relevant and continuing to grow on what we have built.”
She acknowledges my absence at the event and for over 20 years many people from all parts of the industry have worked together to create New Zealand’s thriving fashion scene.
“Everyone here, the designers, the security, the hair and makeup team, they’ve been in this since the beginning.”
Of her mother’s accomplishments, Stewart said: She was a visionary. ”