New York. Milan. Paris. Avondale.
West Auckland became the unofficial new home of New Zealand fashion after another electric event from Stolen Girlfriends Club. Over 1200 brand fans packed into an underground concrete bunker in Avondale to see the latest show from Aotearoa’s favourite contemporary rock n roll fashion brand.
The fashion-meets-music festival, titled “Avondale Fashion Week – An Ode To Avondale,” showcased Stolen’s latest collection, “American Dream”, inspired by vintage Americana and the trends and silhouettes prevalent around America in the 1950s and ’60s and remixed them with a Y2K mood.
I caught up with creative director Marc Moore backstage before the show and asked him about his love of Avondale and how it fits the Stolen vibe.
“I like how anti-fashion and unpretentious it is, like maybe Avondale doesn’t give a fuck about what you’re wearing,” Moore told me. “I like that. But my favourite thing about it is that it’s in the West. I grew up on the West Coast and always preferred the light on this side and the sunsets.”
Moore and the Stolen team collaborated with international stylist Sarah Starkey on this collection. It was the second time the dynamic duo have worked together. Moore told me that Starkey “has such a great eye and a natural feel for Stolen Girlfriends Club”.
“Sarah really took the collection to another level for me, the way she put outfits together and the layering and attention to detail. She’s so fun to work with, too; we all and a blast working with her. I found the process super collaborative.”
Backstage & Models
Backstage, Kiekie Stanners delivered flawless bold beauty looks. Graphic pink eye makeup helped to amplify each model’s unique features while curating a vision described by Moore as ‘Palm Springs Punk’.
Hair direction by Anthony Bayer of Lust Hair brought the attitude of the “American Dream” collection to life.
In traditional Stolen style, the models were a mix of professional models and brand fans. Stolen has always included street-cast models because, as Moore puts it, “they bring a realness to the shows”. This year, over a quarter of the show’s models were street-cast talent who exemplifies the brand’s creative vision.
“I’m not a huge fan of obvious beauty; I’m always looking for individuals with characters that have more of a story,” Moore said. “I’ve always felt that this brand is for the outliers, the ones that perhaps didn’t always fit in with the status quo. The street-cast models bring that vibe and give the shows more depth and diversity.”
Runway & Collection
Stolen was granted access to archives from the Elvis Presley estate early last year. Following this, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was peppered throughout the collection in striking prints, which gave an unexpected depth to sheer fabrics on tops and skirt twinsets.
Even Stolen couldn’t avoid the world’s current Barbiecore obsession. Bubblegum pink garments, reminiscent of the hot rods you might have cruised Palm Springs in the 1960s, popped vibrantly in lambskin leather and drew delighted applause from the audience.
Fabrics were cleverly used to create moments of surprise and unexpected beauty. Buttery soft leather looks appeared alongside luxurious woollens, delicate lace and the cornerstone fabric of rock chic: denim.
Moore says he is “in love” with the ‘Defaced Disco’ pieces, full metallic chainmail with black graffiti print. “They’re hyper-glam but then have this punk twist,” Moore said.
Metal hardware on shoes and jackets was ramped up this year, and spikes and chains adorned everything from bags to jackets and boots, giving the collection a grittier feel.
Eminently wearable and packaged up with Californian ease, the “American Dream” is equal parts confidence and nonchalance.
Music & the Afterparty
As the show concluded, the excited crowd poured out to see local and international artists including Australian DJ Cassettes for Kids, Andy Heartthrob, and Daffodils.
Stolen fans will know that music and live shows are intrinsic to the brand experience — fashion was only one-half of the night’s event.
As we headed to the after-party, Moore confesses finally being back after a pandemic-enforced hiatu has acaused an elated emotion in him.
“We love doing the shows so much. Our shows really embody our brand and set the tone for each collection. But they are also a huge celebration for us — for all the hard work everyone puts in each season.”
I asked Moore to describe the show in three words.
“Westy bogan glam,” he said with a grin.
I couldn’t agree more. Long live the American Dream.
Peep the full show in the banner above and shop the “American Dream” collection now.
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Main image credit: The Last Fashion Bible