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 www.zambesi.co.nz)
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.