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35 Vulcan Lane

Zambesi is not only one of New Zealand’s most iconic labels, but also one of its longest-running and internationally-recognised.

The label is renowned for its directional designs, which have garnered international attention, gathered a dedicated fan base and inspired a new generation of designers. Hallmarks include intelligent, unexpected use of fabric and layers, impeccable tailoring and finishing, and an often-dark colour palette, supplemented with lighter pieces and delicate fabrics designed in-house. One of the ‘New Zealand Four’ selected to show at London Fashion Week in 1999, Zambesi remains at the forefront of New Zealand’s fashion presence.

Elisabeth and Neville Findlay opened their first boutique, Tart, in Parnell in 1975 and a second, Cachet, in Takapuna in 1978. Both stocked Elisabeth’s designs alongside other New Zealand designers, such as Wendy Ganley’s label Elle and Marilyn Sainty. It was not until 1979 that they chose Zambesi as their label and the first Zambesi store opened at 31 Lorne Street the same year, followed by one in Queen’s Arcade in 1981. In 1986, the two city stores merged in the iconic flagship store on Vulcan Lane, which remained open until 2012, when it moved to Britomart.

Many of Zambesi’s customers dress head-to-toe in the label, adding new pieces each year to their previous season’s collection. The cohesiveness of design was showcased in two retrospectives – the exhibition Zambesi, Edge of Darkness at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 2005, and Zambesi’s 30th birthday show, which closed New Zealand Fashion Week in 2009.

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

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