I don't enjoy clothes unless there
is a fun element to them.
SHE LOOKS like she has stepped out of a 1920s Vogue. Her shining
black bob and slender frame are reminiscent of art-déco fashion
illustrations, and her long limbs look perfectly suited to doing the Charleston.
But Sophie Voon is a thoroughly modern woman, and she
has even more of an interest in the world of fashion than the flappers
of the ’20s.
Voon, 24, designs delicate, yet durable, clothes for
young, urban, contemporary women, and she has very definite ideas about
‘I don’t enjoy clothes unless there is a fun element
Voon believes clothes should be interesting and different.
She takes inspiration from the art-déco era, when ‘things were
designed to be the best they could be.’
VOON, her boutique on Wellington’s
Willis Street, displays her love of old-world style. It’s like a dress-up
box for grown-ups—fur stoles, bejewelled hairpins, hats and handbags complement
VOON’s retro-inspired designs. Jazz music plays
softly as customers try on empire line dresses and slinky skirts.
Voon herself has a certain glamour. It’s hard to imagine
her slopping around in a T-shirt and trackpants.
‘All my life I’ve loved dressing up,’ she says.
Voon’s designs reflect her graceful style. She has an
eye for fine fabrics and simple shapes, resulting in women’s wear that
is glamorous, but not at all flashy. The overall effect is understated,
yet attention to detail means VOON designs stand
Voon was taught to sew by her mother, and her eye for
design led her to Wellington Polytechnic,
the training ground for many noted New Zealand fashion designers. She
graduated with a Diploma in Fashion Design in 1995.
Tutor Vince Beckett remembers her as a reserved, disciplined
student with a definite sense of style.
‘Sophie always liked classic touches, and accessories.
She used a lot of muted colours—they had to be just right.’
While many of her fellow graduates set about trying
to find jobs in the fashion industry, the newly married Mrs Voon and husband
Douglas created jobs of their own.
In 1996, with a mere $500 invested in fabric, they opened
VOON in Global Tribe, a Wellington city youth venue
with space for fledgling businesses. continued