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Raewyn Alexander

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198 Queen Street, also Cook Street Market, 29 Elliott Street, 11 Darby Street

Like many aspiring designers living in 1970s Auckland, Raewyn Alexander was a stallholder at Cook Street Market. Markets like this offered an affordable space to test ideas, to sell and to earn an income. For an emerging artist, designer or maker, they provided a supportive and creative community.

At school Raewyn had found the sewing classes far from inspiring and recalls her teacher’s old-fashioned ideas and her horror when the other students selected paisley print fabrics to make shirt dresses, with enormous white or coloured ruffles down the front.

Raewyn's own style was much more theatrical and she enjoyed making clothes and costumes for performers, including the guitarist and bass player of Judge Hoffman, a seven-piece band that broke the world non-stop playing record over Labour Weekend in 1972, when they played for 72 hours in Hamilton. She also made stage costumes for Mal Licious of punk band The Scavengers.

This 'punk' sensibility in her design and modus operandi are hallmarks of her creative trajectory from her early beginnings at Cook Street Market, through her involvement with the establishment of the Zephyr collective which had a workroom and retail space at 29 Elliott Street and later at 11 Darby Street, to Italy Upstairs which was on the 5th floor at 198 Queen Street.

Raewyn continues to disrupt the conventional, seeing herself as an artist using fashion as a form of expression. "Fashion” she says, “is the most difficult kingdom of them all. So much hard work, which nevertheless has to look like fun.”

Read more at http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/raewyn-alexander/

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