This collection, launched to honour 10 years of NZ Fashion Week, celebrates Kiwi fashion on screen. From TV showpieces (B&H, Corbans) to docos on designers; Gloss to archive gold, from Swannies to Split Enz, taniko to foot fetish ... take a stroll down the catwalk of our sartorial screen past. Beauties include ex-Miss Universe Lorraine Downes and a teenage Rachel Hunter.
A line-up of receptionists, trainee teachers, and models talk horse-riding and modesty, vying to win Miss New Zealand 1973. Miss Otago (Pam King) proves a popular winner — the show was filmed in Dunedin — and was later a semi-finalist at that year's Miss World contest. The compere provides innuendo-laced links, and introduces reigning Miss New Zealand (Kristine Allan), Miss World (Australia's Belinda Green), Canadian singer Gary Buck, and blind Māori crooner Eddie Low. Miss Horowhenua — a hairdresser — highlights 1973 style: wigs are out for women, but in for men.
In 1976 three former Miss New Zealand winners fronted up for Max Cryer talk show Town Cryer — including a winner from the 1920s, who agreed to talk on condition her identity wasn’t revealed. The woman recalls her mother firmly turning down offers of travel to Hollywood. 1949 winner Mary ‘Bobbie’ Woodward agrees stamina was as important to the role as beauty. 1954 winner Moana Whaanga (nee Manley) was also a national swimming rep. After the show aired, Cryer heard from an earlier Māori winner, who in 1923 took away possibly the first Miss NZ title of all.
The Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards were the big fashion event of the year from the mid 60s through to the 90s. The show was organised by Josephine Brody, with a TV version screening later. Model turned agent Maysie Bestall-Cohen organised the ‘B&H’ from 1982. An early 80s screen hiatus ended with TVNZ screening a live-to-air show from 1984 to 1998 — the Michael Fowler Centre event was one of its biggest outside broadcasts. In the later 90s the show was known as the Smokefree Fashion Design Awards (after tobacco company sponsorships were outlawed).
TV presenter Lana Coc-Kroft first rose to prominence by being crowned Miss Universe New Zealand in 1988. Her TV debut was as a model on Sale of the Century before becoming co-host of Wheel of Fortune. Coc-Kroft established herself as an adrenaline junkie on shows such as Mountain Dew On the Edge and Can You Hackett, and showed herself to be the equal of her male colleagues on the long-running SportsCafe. While filming reality TV show Celebrity Treasure Island, Coc-Kroft developed a life-threatening illness after being cut by coral. She recovered and went on to host Who Dares Wins.
The early 80s were the apex of the local beauty pageant — Lorraine Downes won Miss Universe in 1983, and more Kiwis watched the 1981 Miss New Zealand contest on TV than Charles and Di’s wedding. This 1984 Miss World New Zealand live telecast was legendary for host Peter Sinclair announcing the wrong winner (clip six). Miss Auckland Barbara McDowell’s runner up sash is swiftly swapped for a crown and she is (eventually) made the first part-Samoan Miss NZ. A retro delight is the beauties dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ in an Oamaru quarry.
The Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards were the big fashion event of the year from the mid 60s to the 90s. The Wellington show was organised by model agent Maysie Bestall-Cohen from 1982, and from 1984 TVNZ broadcast the 'B&H' live from the Michael Fowler Centre. Bestall-Cohen and Bob Parker host this 1986 GOFTA award-winner. Former Miss Universe Lorraine Downes is a guest presenter, and the line-up of models includes a teenage Rachel Hunter and future TV presenter Hilary Timmins. Padded shoulders, geometric prints and garish colours date stamp the era.
Looking at New Zealand was an early NZBC “pictorial magazine” show which explored “New Zealand’s backyard”. Produced by Conon Fraser, it was a staple of Sunday night 60s TV. In this edition the narrator introduces NZ’s unheralded scenic wonder: “its girls”, as he meets some of Miss New Zealand’s 1969 contestants. The women talk about their interests (“I adore frilly nighties”) and occupations (typist) in a style that is more Stepford Wives than Kate Sheppard. Miss Auckland Carole Robinson (not seen here), would go on to win Miss Photogenic at that year’s Miss Universe pageant.
In over 30 years as a producer and director with TVNZ, Derek Wooster made a huge contribution to both mainstream and Māori broadcasting. Among his many projects, Wooster created and produced Marae – the country’s longest running Māori current affairs programme. Other notable achievements include producing the tangihanga of Dame Whina Cooper and the Māori Queen.
Presenter Lana Coc-Kroft has fronted a run of adventure shows, survived a near fatal infection on a Pacific Island, and been a longtime staple on hit show SportsCafe. The ex Miss Universe New Zealand began her screen career modelling on Sale of the Century and co-hosting Wheel of Fortune, before presenting On the Edge. She has also been a 91ZM radio host and World Vision spokeperson.