One thing fashion journalists are seldom called on to do is the sort of investigative probing that was best exempliﬁed by the ﬁctional Cal McCaffrey, as played by John Simm, in State of Play. We investigate, but it all seems mundane in comparison. Could we ever be in the middle of an event where we could feel like McCaffrey? Or perhaps the television detective Bergerac, working on an island?
The FedEx Global Access Fashion Award gave us a chance to come to an event where the company behind the awards kept enough secret to make Saturday a mystery journey of sorts.
Keeping some mystery in the fashion business is nothing new. We come across designers keeping mum on locations at Fashion Week, to surprise us when we are driven there. However, I had not come across one that involved a ferry crossing.
Media were asked to travel to Waiheke Island, along with the ﬁnalists for the awards. A FedEx sign was clearly erected and we were issued our tickets to board the ferry, which turned out to be one of the most enjoyable events in the business.
Sitting with Marc Moore and Steve Dunstan of Stolen Girlfriendsâ€™ Club and Huffer, we joked about what might await us at the other end, and those of us in the media who I heard from likened the journey, inter alia, to an â€˜Agatha Christieâ€™ novel. Actor Karl Urban was on board the same ferry, and I took the opportunity to say hello to himâ€”we had not seen each other for 24 years, since our school daysâ€”and caught up on some recent events. Former game show hostess and registered nurse Jude Dobson was also present on the crossing.
Sadly, Urban was not part of our group, and was heading to Waiheke for another matter. But the journey was mostly uneventful save for a journalist and a photographer who asked to take our photograph.
Reaching Waiheke, we were greeted by a bus driver who, we had to surmise later, was hard of hearing. He had had a few details wrong, not least the spelling of FedEx on his board, but it played into the hands of our inner Cal McCaffreys: it was fairly easy to deduce which was the driver for our group, and this contributed to the mystery the event had built up.
Word has it that this proved too difﬁcult for at least one of the media representatives, who gave up after the ferry crossing, and apparently went home. Maybe some of us have had it too easy.
Held at a modernist home on the Island, SiÃ¡n-Pearl Going of AP Group, which organized the event, announced that the ﬁve ﬁnalistsâ€”Nom D, Huffer, Lonely Hearts, Stolen Girlfriendsâ€™ Club and Zambesiâ€”were in the running to win a total prize package of NZ$35,000, which included NZ$10,000 in cash. It was also tied to a 2010 consumer event called Style Series, details of which were promised by Going in January 2010. The designers could, at their option, show at Style Series, scheduled for March.
The prize, by our reckoning, would be the largest given in New Zealand fashion in recent memory, and Denise McCamish, one of FedExâ€™s managers who handed out Wilson footballs (a reference to the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, where FedEx was very present), was delighted to have been part of the mystery tour with the rest of us. Designers were also encouraged to sign cards with pairs of Crocs for a charity event in Fiji in early December.
Guests were treated to Zumwohl cocktails. Zumwohl stepped in when another alcohol brand failed to honour its commitments to the event, and most agreed that this was in fact a stroke of luck. The Schnaps from Zumwohl ranked above, rather than Below, the other brandâ€™s, in the estimation of the guests who had sampled it.
The drinks, and the rather lavish lunch laid on for us, helped create the sort of intimate atmosphere where we could chat to the designers and to our media colleagues. It was the sort of intimacy that is often missing from events. A home, we had to conclude, was far better than any ofﬁcial venue such as a hotel lobby or hall. Provided the home was suitably ﬂash.
The only hitch, it seemed, were our colleagues who were so keen to take our photograph aboard the ferry. It turns out that they were with a foreign-owned tabloid and had not been invited, and made use of a personal, non-transferable invitation sent to someone at their ofﬁce. But at least they lasted a tad longer than whomever had given up at the Waiheke terminal.
Call us genteel and old-fashioned, but snapping photographs inside someoneâ€™s home when you arenâ€™t invited doesnâ€™t rate well in our book, and I seem to remember this is as a no-no in the world of journalism here. The invited colleagues I spoke to agreed.
The mystery solved, the designers enjoyed themselves, especially Nom Dâ€™s Margi Robertson and Zambesiâ€™s Elisabeth Findlay: the two sisters welcomed the opportunity to have a reunion. Steve Ferguson and Amy Farlane at Lonely Hearts, well familiar to readers of our print edition, were delighted that Going was wearing one of their designs, while Dunstan and Moore comfortably looked the part of footballers as they posed.
I will be writing a few more details of recent events, such as Style Christchurch and the Massey University end-of-year show (great photos on the way for both of these), and a recent Sunglass Hut do, but believe the rather entertaining events of Saturday to have made a sufﬁciently lengthy entry. More soon.