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).
“As an Oscar is to actors, a Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Award was to aspiring New Zealand fashion designers.” The B&H Awards were the big fashion event of the year for three decades from 1964. This 1978 telecast is presented from Wellington’s Town Hall by John Hayden, and longtime B&H organiser Josephine Brody. The theme is ‘fantasy’, but the fabric du jour is wool — befitting an economy living off the sheep’s back — with design entries coming in from Kaitoke to Marton and a procession of homespuns and knitwear paraded before the visiting Parisian judge.
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.