While some designers strive to create an ideal vision of the perfect female customer, others choose to let their customer use fashion to define their own definition of perfection. Annah Stretton, now easing her way into to the US and other countries’ markets via her jaunty online boutiques, fits the second category and does it with the flair of one of her famously fitted jackets. I discovered this on my 2010 visit to Wellington when in town to cover the Cocktail World Cup (of 42 Below vodka notoriety).
Soon after I purchased my first Annah-designed investment-piece jacket (which still turns fashionista heads here in LA three years on), Lucire publisher Jack Yan filled me in on her other accomplishments in publishing and public speaking. In 2013, she succeeded in getting my attention again, and not just because of all of the curve flattering frocks and expanded number of shops. Shortly after I arrived in Wellington, on the heels of covering the Food and Wine Classic (FAWK) in Hawke’s Bay, a cartoon incarnation of Annah peeked up at me from one of the stacks at the Lucire offices.
Rock the Boat (her third effort), content-wise, is focused on a core readership of success-driven New Zealand women. The business leaders and movers-and-shakers, therefore, will be more recognizable to that group. However, from the perspective of an outsider (an American woman) looking in, this book is still a fun read with a lot of very positive messages and life lessons. Although it is obvious why she’s billed as the New Zealand answer to Oprah, one has to appreciate that she’s made sure her own larger-than-life persona does not overshadow the input and impact made by her “guest stars” (including the equally vibrant Cuisine publisher Ray McVinnie, who MCed several FAWK events, as well as World of Wearable Art founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff, and Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts). This, in turn, turns readers not familiar with New Zealand personality, culture and industry to read on, learn and be genuinely inspired.
From a design standpoint, Rock the Boat, like her spring–summer 2013–14 collection of frocks, tempts a reader to pick it up and try some things on for size. Though æsthetically some of this year’s dresses and this year’s book chapters may be a little too busy visually, other visually appealing chapters will fit and feel just right for an individual reader. Then again, that’s the beauty of the new generation of eclectic, self-help and motivational books aiming for a wide readership. Not every idea or message will be a fit, but chances are if you shop around—especially on this Stretton-led cruise—you will get some divine inspiration when charting your own course.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor