Fashion meets philanthropy in a new collaboration that sees New Zealand designer Emilia Wickstead team up with Australian wool authority The Woolmark Company. Together they have produced a modern capsule of workwear made entirely from Australian merino wool, which will launch May 20 in 18 styles priced from £250 to £1,100, with 10 percent of the store collection donated to Smart Works, an organisation that supports women struggling with unemployment.
Aptly named Ordinary Yet Extraordinary Women, the collection is inspired by strong New Zealand females and their connections with whānau (family), hoa (friends) and Papatūānuku (Mother Earth). “It’s about the nostalgia of home,” says Wickstead. “As an Antipodean, I wanted it to draw upon the strength and dynamism of these women, and reinvent the use of this natural and historic fibre in a modern context.”
Australia produces about 90 per cent of the world’s fine wool, but the clothing it makes is largely associated with winter dressing. In this new collection, Emilia, who is based in London and a favourite on the red carpet, has designed a wardrobe for all seasons – designed to be worn layered or stripped back and encompassing fine ribbed and chunky knits, as well as luxurious wool gabardine. Standout pieces include a bright pink ribbed knitted sweater and a close-fitting black dress flared from the waist.
The campaign for the range features 12 “ordinary but extraordinary” models, such as Katie Milne, the first female president of New Zealand’s Federated Farmers; New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh; Valerie Adams, the two-time Olympic gold-medal-winning shot putter; and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, the first Maori woman in the country to become a university professor. Three 18-year-old dancers – Lesina Letufuga, Teresa Heather and Hope Crockett – also showcase pieces. They are part of a dance group at Auckland’s McAuley High School that beat 10,000 other performers to win ASB Polyfest 2018, an annual Polynesian dance festival that Wickstead herself took part in as a teenager.
In keeping with the female theme, the designs are also dedicated to the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, which celebrated its anniversary in November last year. The collection will be available from Selfridges, Net-a-Porter and Emilia Wickstead’s own store on London’s Sloane Street.