Tauranga’s winter fashion on show

I wondered what to wear to the launch of Tauranga’s Fashion Month. I tend to wear black, often buying two of exactly the same item, as it eliminates the need to have to choose on a daily basis.

My approach to fashion has been - if it has pockets and fits me, then I’m interested. 'Can I play piano in it?', 'Can I walk five kilometres in it?' - these are my usual questions.

Despite not inheriting a shopping chromosome, I was pumped and excited to go along to Clarence Bar & Bistro to see the latest season’s designs.

Feeling enthusiastic, I wore shoes that look great but pinch the toes.

“It’s for fashion!” I thought, gallantly.

Clarence, located in the old Tauranga Post Office, has an elegant ambience, with charm and warmth that puts one at ease.

Arriving early, I popped upstairs to see the models and found myself among friends. Laughing and excited, they are also going to be part of Tarnished Frocks & Divas’ upcoming show Xanthia.

This evening though, they would be showcasing fashion from four stores – Annah Stretton, High St Boutique, moochi, and Repertoire; and jewellery from Hammon Diamond Jewellers. The models wearing High St Boutique and Annah Stretton would also be modelling Blur Eyecare.

Downstairs, I picked up a ‘goodie’ bag and settled at a table with others.

“Make sure you fill in your name on the card to go in the draw,” I was told. The draw was for a table for eight to Xanthia. Dutifully I complied.

Soon the bar was packed with women, and one man – Stuart Laing from Blur Eyecare, who was keeping a protective eye on his range.

Millie Newitt, from Downtown Tauranga began the enchanting night.

“I’ve had the privilege of working alongside the men and women behind moochi, Blur Eyecare, Repertoire, High St Boutique, Annah Stretton and Hammon Diamond Jewellers over the past few months, to bring you tonight’s fashion show,” says Millie. “It’s great to have such a collaborative event like this and we thank you for coming and supporting our fantastic fashion houses in downtown Tauranga.”

There was a general murmur as waiting staff brought more canapés around. And a louder murmur when it was announced that Hammon Diamond Jewellers would be giving away a gift hamper worth over $1200 at the end of the evening.

“We are here to celebrate the Look Book Launch and Look Fashion Month in downtown Tauranga,” says Downtown Tauranga’s Sally Cooke. “It’s the second year that we’ve put the book together and it’s something we’re very proud of because it allows us to showcase the amazing brands in downtown Tauranga.”

Over the next hour, Sally interviewed designers, and commentated the ‘pop up’ fashion parades.

“Fashion for winter is exciting,” says Lee Kleiman from Repertoire. “What I’m curious about is how the mega global trends of women’s empowerment are impacting fashion.

“I can see the diversity across this room. There are really no ‘don'ts’ because women are owning their space, owning their right to what feels good. There are no wrongs or right. It’s about what suits your body shape and what you feel confident in.”

She was singing my song!

One of her favourite items was Repertoire’s leather jacket. “You can put it over a floral dress and grunge it down.”

Definitely playing my song.

Lee is full of fashion tips – a timeless classic blazer can look funky teamed with jeans and doc martins, belted in the middle to add an element of excitement. Wider pants seem to have come to the fore.

Mary Borman from High St Boutique has an eclectic range, including marvellous designs by Valentine Scrivener.

Between each collection, I browsed the Look Book. I couldn’t wait to visit the Tauranga stores. I love the Annah Stretton kimono and the Sherpa jacket from moochi. Jewellery from Hammon Diamond Jewellers looks stunning.

I’ve always wondered why models don’t smile. Don’t they like what they’re wearing? The models for the Look Fashion Month launch absolutely glow with delight, immediately making the clothing feel even more appealing.

Anne Pankhurst spoke, promising Xanthia would be ‘a wild mixture of past and future, the visual representation of how music influences our society through the ages, and the breathtaking creation of art on stage’. I hoped madly that I would be able to get a ticket to this 2019 rendition of Tarnished Frocks and Divas, as I’d missed the previous show.

Flicking through the Look Book again, I realise it features over 25 Tauranga city centre clothing and accessory brands. Anyone shopping in downtown Tauranga any time during June and July would go in a draw for a $1000 shopping spree.

I was still making notes about the collections when I heard Sally Cooke say my name.

People around me were calling me.

“What?” I asked.

“You won the draw! You won the table for eight to Xanthia!”

I have nothing to wear to this fab event! I’ll have to go shopping!

Thankfully I now know where to look.