World is one of my favourite shops. In a Warholian way, it is not just a fashion store but a 'Factory of Ideas and Experiments'. Daring, eccentric, subversive - and a bit naughty. World Brand started with Denise L'Estrange Corbet and Francis Hooper. They met in the UK. Denise is from NZ, and was studying at the London College of Fashion & Francis was working in fashion retail & an assistant for up and comer John Galliano. They at a bus stop, they married in Edinburgh and came to NZ to work in Auckland's Fashion HQ, High St, Denise at Zambezi, Francis next door at Workshop. But retail didn't float their boats - they needed more.
They starting out making badges & hats & bits & pieces for the store, then moved to a larger space at 18a High St in 1990 and began designing their own range in. In 1995 they entered the prestigious Benson & Hedges Fashion Awards - with an Origami dress, which won the supreme award! (which was almost thrown in the bin by a curator at Te Papa, years later!) "It was just about wanting to do something different; fun fur, astroturf - just to experiment" says Denise. "When we won the Benson & Hedges award using $10 of cardboard from Whitcoulls in 1995, it put the spotlight on us. It was about an idea - origami - not about the fabric." The Benson & Hedges Fashion Awards were a huge deal in NZ. I entered in 1992, and got a letter of commendation - but not into the final cut or the show - bugger.
World show at NZFW 2011
World's injection of drama, fluro colours and mad designs made a splash on the dark, demure landscape of NZ fashion. They put drag Queens on their catwalks. Dubbed the 'enfants terribles' of NZ fashion, their bold, brash, dramatic designs & warm bubbly personalities captured the hearts and imagination of New Zealanders. Denise says "People loved the humour of our designs and weren’t shy about embracing the colours and varied fabrics we used. New Zealanders have always had an appreciation for eccentricity; beneath our society’s conventional surface is a delightful exuberance. Everyone wants to look good - and a woman wants nothing more than to be told she looks sexy, regardless of her age or body shape," (More here).
In 1997 they among the first NZ designers to show internationally at Sydney Fashion Week, and caught the attention of influential Italian Vogue Editor Anna Piaggi. In 1999 they showed at London Fashion Week with Zambesi, Karen Walker and Nom*D - famously named ‘the New Zealand Four’. World was also the first New Zealand brand to be awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth ll in 2002 for their services to fashion, as well as the first brand to have a solo exhibition at the Auckland Museum in 2004, entitled 'We Fought Fashion and Lost! WORLD 1989-2005'.
I discovered World upon moving to Auckland in 1997, going into their High St store. I remember artist & designer Tracey Collins with her amazing cone shaped hair & and gorgeous stylist Brent Lawler used to hang out there to. Both now longtime collaborator with World.
Styled by Brent Lawler
My friend Reuben used to work there. Reuben is also an amazing artist (see more here) and over the past 15 years has collaborated with World several times, on menswear and most recently 'Icecream and Muscles' - Sex Museum at WORLDman, harking back to the old SEX nightclub days.
World Brand now has 9 stores in NZ. The store at High St is stunning old high ceiling, polished wooden floored building that used to be an old theatre - the perfect home for the glamorous, dramatic brand. There is also World Beauty which is an opulent cornucopia of gorgeous and beautiful things - a Libran's dream. They stock luxurious and covetable items brands such Demeter and Agent Provocateur fragrances, Diptyche candles, Philosophy and Aesop skincare, surrounded by antique fragance bottles, French art-deco flourishes, kitschy curios and taxidermy animals- a Libran's dream!
My fave Rosanaagh (below) unfortunately didn't win, but she looked spectacular with her jet black Geisha-esque hair & glittery blood red lips.
I loved winner Bridgette's shaggy cherry-red coat. Delish!
World has also joined forces with Number One Shoes to a line of fancy footwear inspired by and named after striking fashion icons such as Annie Lennox, Edie Sedgwick & Grace Jones. Check out World made me do it now!