Presenting ... young designers
MERCEDES-BENZ AND HARMAN GRUBISA TEAM UP FOR NZFW
Although Mercedes-Benz has been associated with fashion shows for two decades, from New York to Toyko and Sydney, it’s the car company’s third year aligned with New Zealand Fashion Week.
The German brand is well-known at fashion weeks for its Mercedes-Benz Presents accolade, where a designer or label is picked as the opening show. At next week’s NZ Fashion Week, that accolade goes to the label Harman Grubisa.
In addition to the “Mercedes-Benz Presents” runway show, the car brand is Fashion Week’s official automotive partner, with a fleet of its vehicles used to transport VIP guests throughout the event.
Twenty-something friends Madeleine Harman and Jessica Grubisa started their label two years ago and it was the first New Zealand label to be nominated for The International Woolmark Prize.
Mercedes-Benz NZ general manager Ben Giffin was delighted the label was selected.
“We are thrilled to welcome New Zealand’s most exciting new designer, Harman Grubisa, into the global family of Mercedes-Benz Presents designers,” he said.
In 2014, Dame Trelise Cooper was named as Mercedes-Benz Presents designer and last year the accolade went to Kate Sylvester.
Part of the award is the use of Mercedes-Benz cars by the designers for the lead-up to Fashion Week.
What was your reaction when you were told your label was recipient of Mercedes-Benz Presents for this year’s New Zealand Fashion Week?
Madeleine: Excitement of course, but mainly what an honour it was to partner with Mercedes-Benz.
Jessica: Same here, it’s such an exciting initiative to be a part of. What Mercedes-Benz are you driving? And how did you decide who drove what vehicle?
M: I drive a Mercedes-Benz A180.
J: I drive a Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 Shooting Brake. There were two keys and we randomly picked one and whichever one it opened was ours.
What did you first think when you drove your Mercedes?
M: My first thought was that it has a wonderfully luxurious interior.
J: It basically drives itself, it’s insanely smooth on the road.
Has the car inspired you design-wise?
M: It's definitely made me think more and more about the harmony of beauty and practicality in our product.
J: You will have to wait and see.
Have you been on any road trips since you had the vehicle?
M: Not yet — but I live out of the city, so from time-to-time driving home can feel like a road trip.
J: The day after I got the keys I travelled up to Matakana and back for a coffee with friends.
What are your three favourite design aspects of your Mercedes ?
M: Apple CarPlay — which links all of your calls music, etc via Bluetooth (I can dictate messages while I’m on the road), the blindspot alerts when you are changing lanes — is a genius piece of technology and of course cannot go past the heated seats.
J: Automatic boot, the Dynamic Selects for driving: Sport, Economy, Comfort — plus I have a custom setting — and the reverse camera for safety.
Since you’ve had the Mercedes, have you thought about car interior design? What would be your favourite interior combination (one brand even has a silk cover for seats, another has Burberry cloth)?
J: For me it’s always a black leather interior.
M: I am much the same, can’t go past a classic leather.
What was your first car?
M: A VW Beetle.
J: A BMW M Sport coupe.
Who taught you to drive?
M: My stepdad taught me to drive in his Bristol.
J: My aunty.
Have you been on any exciting road trips in NZ or overseas? If so, did they inspire you with your label?
M: One very memorable road trip for me was driving across the border from Switzerland to France in the snow — absorbing all the landscape. I think always feeds back into your work whether you realise it or not.
J: I drove from Auckland to Wellington when I was 19 for New Year’s Eve with my two best friends — it was a hilarious trip I will never forget.
Which fashion icon or designer would you love to go on a road trip with, and to where?
M: A road trip with Dries Van Noten would be fascinating, in his home country — going places he chooses would be dreamy.
J: Miuccia Prada, across America to Marfa
M: AMG G Wagon — it’s beautiful and powerful
J: A Maybach.