Oct 24, 2023

After a three-year COVID-induced slumber, New Zealand Fashion Week in its 2023 incarnation – Kahuria – was finally underway. It was the second day and I had already photographed five shows. My head was spinning from capturing backstage and runway,

As the night descended, I walked out of the bustling media hub facing the Viaduct Events Centre – pondering the panel discussion ‘Fashion Forward’ I had captured. Sustainability and circular fashion. Crossing over the Viaduct drawbridge I headed towards downtown Auckland, the inviting lights of the city sparkling like a fashionable and luxorious cloak of jewels. My destination?

I had received an invite to Tessa Lont’s after-show private VIP event held at the rustic, yet exquisitely sophisticated, Britomart Hotel

While I was a little rusty at networking events, I was no stranger to Tessa Lont.

Personal Branding Shoot

I had first talked to Tessa about doing a Designer Profile Shoot several years before, and a year after that coinciding with NZFW we went ahead and did it. I

I vividly recall Tessa arriving in an Uber (although based in Singapore she reminded me she knew Auckland well) with a suitcase adorned with overseas destination labels, carrying several of her contemporary and past outfits for our portrait shoot. As she chatted to the makeup artist KAZ I made a behind-the-scenes video and then we got on with the shoot. The interview questions I emailed afterwards.

Tessa was straightforward, charming, and quietly confident. She struck me then, as she does now, as someone unafraid to immerse herself in worthwhile projects –

So, as I made my way to her event, I anticipated the same warmth, talent, and energy, a ‘Wairua’ that perfectly encapsulated her essence. I was not disappointed.  Indeed, looking at the themes of her latest collection: rebirth, harmony, earth, energy, nature, rituals and the tapestry of knowledge and traditions left by ancestors -how could it not have been a rich and uplifting evening?

A Feast for the Senses

Stepping into the bustling venue, I immediately recognized that no detail had been spared in creating an ambience of quiet opulence and rustic charm. The Britomart Hotel, with its polished wooden floors, understated lighting, and bespoke textured walls, set the stage for an evening of sheer elegance. The restaurant was alive with conversations.

I was directed through the restaurant and upstairs to one of the function rooms where the evening was in full swing. This space was cosmopolitan and inviting, matching the vibrancy of the guests.

Tessa welcomed invited VIPs and delegates into her world with open arms, making the journey to the event all the more enjoyable. Her energy for ‘whanau’ (family), friends, and inclusion radiated throughout the evening. The focus was on joyful connections and embracing everyone into her circle of authenticity and style.

This was an evening where, much like Tessa’s designs, every aspect spoke of inclusivity, feminine power, and a celebration of the values that lie at the heart of the reawakened fashion industry.

A Star-Studded Affair

Celebrity stylists, branding specialists, fellow established and upcoming designers, renowned photographers and VIP fashionistas mingled. The room buzzed with animated conversations, as bright lights of the fashion world gathered to celebrate and to connect to the warmth of Tessa’s latest collection, ‘Earth Mother’ (or ‘PAPATŪANUKU’ in Maori).

Browsing Amidst Brilliance

The racks held treasures from the runway show I had captured earlier that day (marked with the name of the model who wore it ), and fashion week delegates, specially invited, had the privilege of perusing these exquisite designs up close. They engaged in intimate conversations with Tessa herself, gaining insights into the inspiration behind her creations. You can read about the Lontessa philosophy and story surrounding her latest PAPATŪANUKU and other collections here Each outfit hung on a rack s with the name of the model who graced the runway wearing it. Videos of her past shows played on monitors above tables laden with exquisite snacks.

Wines flowed, laughter filled the air, and the ambience was nothing short of enchanting. The plush rustic feel of The Britomart Hotel provided the perfect backdrop for this fashionable soiree.

Efficiency with a Smile

The staff at The Britomart Hotel were models of professionalism. Courteous and efficient, they ensured that the energy in the room remained electric, leaving guests with nothing to do but savour every moment.

A Celebration of Talent and Values

But what truly stole the spotlight that evening was not just the exquisite garments but also the incredible person behind the brand. Tessa Lont’s talent for creating feminine and sophisticated contemporary fashions is a testament to her dedication to her craft. Her designs strike a balance between modernity and cultural and environmental sensitivity, reflecting her deep appreciation for the heritage and environment of her Maori roots in Aotearoa. Catch images from Lontessa backstage (especially the striking makeup design )and pre-show preparation as well as images from her stunning runway show appearing here shortly

A Tapestry of Fashion

In the heart of Auckland, Tessa Lont’s Earth Mother soiree was a celebration of fashion, culture, and authenticity. As the evening unfolded, it was abundantly clear that Tessa’s designs and values are intricately woven together, creating a tapestry of fashion that speaks to the heart and soul. This was not just a party; it was a declaration of style, substance, and the pursuit of beauty in every form.

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  1. Alex Henderson says:

    what. a lovely first blog!

  2. bridget says:

    Wow! This is a fantastic read. Wish I had been there!

  3. Airickah says:

    Very cool!

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