Abigail Moir, the winner of the Young Designers’ Award at the inaugural Wellington Fashion Week, is waiting at the Museum Art Hotel for her interview. She’s absorbing the atmosphere, probably in anticipation for her prize, which will include creating uniforms for the Hotel’s reception staff.
Among her first remarks as we begin our interview is that she would ‘love to do the restaurant [uniforms, too].’
The Museum Art Hotel isn’t getting designs from the winner of the competition gratis. Among her prize package is NZ$3,000, put up by hotel owner Chris Parkin. And Moir is ready to get started.
‘They have to be comfortable, because the staff need to carry luggage,’ she says. ‘I absolutely love the hotel: it’s exactly my style. I wish my whole house could be like this. So I am going to have a lot of fun designing the outfits.’
Moir, whose Miss Abigail label is newly set up in New Zealand, already has quite a history in fashion. She had worked in the industry for the last decade, primarily in Australia, where she had grown up.
British-born, Moir had worked for various fashion houses across the Tasman, including Volcom. She had designed a range for BMW’s Motorsport team, and a surfwear range for Grip. In 2006, she won a young designers’ competition in Australia, securing six months’ mentoring with Alex Zabboto Bentley of Fashion Assassin. More recently, she designed promotional outfits for Lowrance and Simrad.
There’s more to Moir than fashion. Two years ago, she spent one month homeless in order to raise funds for and to raise awareness about homelessness in Australia.
After departing from Australia, she left her possessions with a friend, whose car was broken in to. While the thieves left her sewing machines, all her clothes, including the ones she had designed earlier in her career, had been taken.
However, after arriving in New Zealand, her luck has changed for the better.
Moir originally applied to be in the main part of Wellington Fashion Week, but ‘got a phone call to do Young Designers’ with three and half weeks to spare. She created her collection from scratch in that time.
‘It was hectic. I did nothing else. I did not cook and clean. My boyfriend did most of it. I was up to 1 a.m. the day before, and made seven outfits in total.’
The win has left Moir feeling positive about the future. Her 2006 win in Australia led her down a path where she was able to set up a small shop and studio, selling to 10 retailers. She describes her 2012 win as ‘perfect’, a catalyst to launching her label properly in her newly adopted home. •