Dame Trelise Cooper’s Big Night Out
On Friday night, with just a little fanfare but a lot of sequins, Dame Trelise Cooper, iconic New Zealand Fashion Designer, was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame. Supported by a bevvy of high achieving beauties –amongst them Wendy and Sally from Wendys Boutique, she humbly accepted the latest in an impressive line up of accolades.
National recognition for any endeavor is always – even for the most modest individuals – a bonus, but the Business Hall of Fame is something that will strike a chord for anyone who has pushed themselves out of their comfort zone, and risked it all in business. And many would say, that as businesses go, there are few more fickle than the world of fashion. So to be rewarded for over 30 years of service to the industry by an establishment that celebrates the contribution to the economic and social development of New Zealand, is certainly something to shout about.
In typical Trelise style, she took along a group of women to share in her big moment, and in a manner reflective of her outlook that her success has not been a journey made alone, these were friends that have supported her along her way. Wendys Boutique has a long business history with the Trelise Cooper brand, which has inevitably spilled over into a personal relationship, so Wendy and Sally were thrilled to be a part of the evening. How lucky that all the ladies that Trelise invited to share her moment are not just wonderful people, but super stylish as well – because one look at the outfits of the evening is enough to make you weep with the sheer gorgeousness of it all.
Of course it’s only fitting that the costumes of the night reflected the signature style of the Trelise Cooper brand. Despite having four labels under her hat (Trelise Cooper, Cooper, COOP and Curate), there is a common thread that runs through all of them. No matter whether the item is from the prestigious Trelise Cooper label, or the fashion forward Curate, the colours are stunning, the designs are unique, the prints ooze individuality and the luxurious fabric choices are always a treat to behold.
Curate Off The Cuff Jacket $299, Curate Mix Master Leather Jacket $499, Curate Punch Line Top $199, Curate Tie One On Dress $279
If ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’, then the vibrant femininity of one of Trelise Cooper's wonderful creations feels a little like Trelise has opened her heart and shared a little piece of herself. The ethereal beauty of her pieces manages to strike the perfect note of whimsical yet wearable. I have always been drawn to her beautiful fabrics that are so often silks, and I love her use of elaborate beading. Invariably there are gorgeous sequins, sometimes feathers; there is usually a clue to the story behind the pieces, whether an era in time or a culture that has inspired Trelise. Her designs are high fashion, yet always age gracefully; perhaps most importantly when you wear something from one of her collections it’s as though you are making your own individual statement. In the same way that a piece of art is a reflection of the passions of its owner, so is a piece of Trelise clothing.
Trelise Cooper She Frill Be Loved $649, Trelise Cooper Let Me Love You Dress $599, Trelise Cooper Lace It Up Shirt $399
Of course the cherry on the cake of Dame Trelise Cooper's success story is that her ride to glory has been such an unconventional one. Raised in West Auckland by young parents, she discovered a love of costume when she was a child. Despite having no formal training in the industry, she chased her dream. Hard to believe, but without the cushion of privilege and with a massive amount of angst and self-doubt, she ploughed on and opened her first shop in Auckland in 1985. A roaring success, she opened a second store in Wellington the following year, and before long Trelise Cooper was a buzzword amongst fashionistas and celebrities nationally and internationally. Nevertheless when her son was born Trelise took a fashion sabbatical, and returned to the industry with a bang in 1996. No one just re-enters any business and takes off where they left it after a break, so with untold sweat, tears and determination, Trelise Cooper worked to ultimately reach the dizzying heights that we see today, of a global brand with ten flagship stores worldwide as well as more than 200 retail stockists across the US and Australia.
I think one of the things that it’s hard to move past is not necessarily Dame Trelise Cooper's inordinate success, but the way in which she has established herself as an ‘every woman’s’ woman. She is at the top of her game, and yet she is open about her shortcomings, her insecurities and her struggles. Perhaps it is this empathy that has led her to create clothes that embrace the feminine form, both reflecting and enhancing inner and outer beauty. Ultimately her unique play on romance, luxury and embellishments combine to give the wearer a sense of empowerment. When all is said and done there are just so many things to love about Trelise Cooper and her brand. From the time invested in creating each garment, to the quirky humour that goes into giving each piece a name, every aspect is ultimately designed to give the women that wear it pleasure.
Please note links to all the products featured in this article are in the text below the images. The prices displayed are accurate for the date this blog was posted and may be changed after this date.
Written By Nicky Adams