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18a High Street

One of New Zealand’s most avant-garde design labels was launched in 1989 by two designers fresh from London.

Denise L’Estrange-Corbet trained at the London College of Fashion. Her partner, Francis Hooper, worked for John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) and Kansai Yamamoto.

WORLD was born in a tiny space in Auckland’s Century Arcade, neighbours to Street Life. They sold hats and t-shirts printed with their own slogans, and also stocked pieces by local jewellers and designers, including early Karen Walker. By 1991, the t-shirts were selling out, and WORLD moved to a larger space nearby at 18a High Street, where its range expanded to include brightly-coloured denim.

In 1997 WORLD was one of four New Zealand labels invited to Australian Fashion Week where they caught the attention of Italian Vogue contributor Anna Piaggi. It was, however, London Fashion Week in 1999 that launched WORLD onto the international stage when they were invited to participate with Zambesi, NOM*d and Karen Walker (dubbed the ‘New Zealand Four’ by the media).

Theatricality in their runway shows became an essential part of the WORLD brand contributing to their profile and growth. By the early 2000s, number 18a was no longer big enough to contain the ‘Factory of Ideas and Experiments’, a byline they adopted in 1999. They didn’t however stray far, opening a grand concept store in Little High Street, a WORLDman shop at 47 High Street and the first World Beauty store in Vulcan Lane in 2006.

Read more at www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/world

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