Monday, April 25, 2011

Zambesi girl

The closest I've come to a sartorial love affair is with New Zealand's established designer label, Zambesi.

There was a time in the mid to late 1990s - a period that looks increasingly as if it might have been my hedonistic zenith - when Zambesi pieces were my staples.  I was single, on a career track, and financially independent.

I was so devoted to one particular boutique that carried Zambesi and other favourites Helen Cherry, Marilyn Sainty and NOMd, the owner would buy with me in mind.

It astonishes me now.

On a whim - it's been a while - I viewed Zambesi's  A/W 2011 collection online.  If I was in my 90s phase, I would have snapped these three up, no question. Zambesi has always had a distinctive look and collections flow into one another, but these pieces could almost have been plucked from my wardrobe back then.

(Photos: Zambesi, a/w 2011 runway via

The New Zealand design aesthetic has long been synonymous with a dark, utilitarian mood.  Edgy black and loads of it.   It's no longer the case, with a blossoming, diverse design scene, but I have struggled to broaden my palette - colour and direction - even if circumstances and desire dictate I no longer fill my wardrobe with Zambesi and NOMd etc. 

I still tend to look for clothes that best reflect (on my pared down budget) designer influences from fifteen years ago.  I think it's partly because it represents a time when I felt I had it going on.

But my tastes have evolved; a little less uncompromising, softer, more inclusive.  I adore Richard Moore's draped, feminine dress below.  (He showed at iD Dunedin Fashion Week earlier this month.)

                      Photo: Richard Moore dress via
                     iD Dunedin Fashion Week
Frankly, though, as much as I admire it, I simply couldn't wear it well for many reasons; not least of which, it's white.

Perhaps I should just embrace my anxiety about wearing colour or block white and the post-children fear of svelte clothes, and explode into a new style direction.  I'm thinking vintage Zandra Rhodes, seen here at iD Dunedin Fashion Week 2011 (private collection).

Photo: Vintage Zandra Rhodes via iD Dunedin Fashion Week

Then again, if I focus on confidence, maybe my lack of imagination will be considered a signature rather than a style rut.  Here's hoping.  

In the meantime, I think I will follow up on Zambesi's Shooboot.  Winter is coming.


Nicola said...

I may be needing some styling support ... feel like lending some of that style knowledge to a friend in need.... I am still waiting for that elusive moment when I realize that all, or even some, of my pre-baby(s) wardrobe again fits...or the moment that I feel so confident in my new ( slightly moresih) skin that I declare I am going shopping - for clothes that actually fit. I am suspicious that re-entrering the 5 day work week may give me the mental push that is needed for such a high style adventure!

Perhaps I too can move away from all my pre-baby life when that happened I later discovered that the majority of my clothes were navy....way out there in terms of a change I know! !Then again - I did grow up in eastern Canada where designer styles are somewhat smothered by conservatism : )

Juliette said...

Darling, I picked up an amazing colourful satiny dress at an op-shop and wore it to lunch with friends today. Hubby said "Ummm." Then, "Maybe if you wear it with Confidence others will believe it is Designer and it will be OK." So I did,and it was. Friends: fab. Hubby: questionable!

Michelle Trusttum said...

Nick - at least navy blue is a colour! You are already streaks ahead. x

Juliette - that's it. Confidence in action. I love it. x

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Michelle, apologies for being a stranger! I am adding you to my blog list forthwith so this doesn't happen again. I have enough trouble keeping up with that so don't really look at my dashboard.

I love everything you've picked here. Isn't the vintage Zandra Rhodes vibrant and wonderful? I'm really into orange at the moment but I have to admit that 80% of my wardrobe is black. I can't seem to get away from that either. Black is just such a great colour to wear xx

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

PS. Go to dashboard-settings-comments and change to "pop up window" and lose word verification. Blogger has a spam filter now. It's much easier for your readers to look at multiple posts that way. Hope you don't mind me letting you know xx

Michelle Trusttum said...

Christina - always lovely to hear from you, and I'm glad you like the pics. Thanks too for the great tip about the pop-up window. I have been wondering how to get that effect (without going to the trouble of actually researching it), so thank you very much. x