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Zambesi, a House synonymous with emotional resonance and brooding sensibility - an edginess, a suggestion of disquiet, of hidden depths never entirely revealed. Established by Elisabeth and Neville Findlay in 1979, the House was among the first in New Zealand to express a strong local identity and to encourage clients to dress with a sure sense of self and self-expression. Its focus on proximity and intimacy echoes a landscape of raw-edged, tightly grouped hills, dense bush and the power and beauty of a rugged coast raised struggling from the ocean.

History and memory contribute strongly to Elisabeth Findlay's attitude to design. Vintage cuts and fabrics are given innovative interpretations; a gathering-up of hues, textures and weights. Her practice is fluid and directional. Disregarding obvious trends, the focus of the House is to produce garments that may be worn and treasured over time.




Isolation can exert a powerful influence. With a nod to the notion of a closed community and the pioneers who arrived in a new land with their steamer trunks packed with precious pieces – delicate silks and exquisite French lace, alongside their most humble and practical garments – Zambesi’s 2010/11 summer range continues a dialogue that has been underway now for almost three decades.

Instead of grasping outwards at the world Zambesi take an introspective approach, an attitude that manifests itself throughout the collection: as in previous seasons, pieces re-use vintage materials sourced from Zambesi’s own workrooms; there are the references to the label’s archive patterns recreated with new interpretations; fabrics and shapes are reworked in new, unexpected ways - like the burst and flourish of exposed gauze and silk in the Victorian detailing on the cuff of a sleeve.

Clean, modern and minimal, the collection includes considered renditions of deconstruction – razor-slashed silk garments that are not casually ripped apart but meticulously shredded and then refined and expertly finished.

Fabrics are either lightweight and delicate or they express a raw honesty of purpose. So the fragility of French lace, parachute silk, sheer cotton silks, wool gauze and transparent mesh is anchored by the pragmatism of the everyday – fabrics like cotton sweatshirting, coated linen and pinstripe suiting.

Foundation colours predominate. The heavier neutrals – navy, black and cement, mix with soft lingerie shades of vintage cream, faded ballet pink, nude and plaster grey.