Zambesi’s strongest suit, and what sets them apart as one of Australasia’s leading fashion houses, is the way the designers work with fabrics. In a week where it is all too easy to get caught up in trends and gimmicks, it is refreshing to see a collection where quality is emphasized and prioritized. It comes as no surprise then that Zambesi have nothing to hide and are willing and eager to bare it all - literally. As the first model stepped onto the catwalk last night at New Zealand Fashion Week the backdrop continued to widen, until the entire backstage area was exposed - revealing models, makeup artists, hair stylists, even the volunteer dressers. It was an exciting concept for the fashion crowd made up of industry and media, and something I can’t recall of any other designer doing in recent memory. Perhaps this gesture also served as a nod to the ever-growing presence of social media in the fashion industry. When Zambesi was founded over 30 years ago Google had yet to be invented, now it would be difficult (read: impossible) to attend a fashion show and not be seated next to someone tweeting, instagramming, or vine-ing (if not be guilty of it yourself). This has brought about a lot of changes and I would argue the most powerful of these is that designers have been forced to be more transparent, causing an inevitable rift in the industry. (One only needs to look at Tom Ford’s antics in the press after his recent return to the runway to see the reluctance and hesitance some designers have towards social media.) But reluctant and hesitant are two things Zambesi are not and revealing an unaltered behind the scenes - a dirty and dark place for even the veterans of this industry - provides another vantage point from which to be judged. Fortunately, they pulled it off. This was an evolved, wearable collection that at times referenced from the archives, but was never derivative. There were fresh new silhouettes and a fern print featured in the collection was a welcomed Kiwiana touch. Once again, the team presented a cohesive fully-functioning wardrobe - the difference here, though, is that somehow, Zambesi are able to say in 1 look what other designers this week have attempted to say in 10.