Zambesi drives Mercedes for NZ Fashion Week
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When iconic fashion brand Zambesi was named as Mercedes-Benz Presents partner for this month's NZ Fashion Week, part of the deal was the use of a GLE SUV and A250 Sport compact car.
Zambesi is the fourth elite partner with Mercedes for the annual Fashion Week, with the brand not only opening the event but also creating two bespoke ensembles for the runway show.
Established in 1979 by Elisabeth (Liz) and Neville Findlay, Zambesi was joined by Dayne Johnston as the label's menswear designer 15 years ago.
Fashion Week at the Viaduct Events Centre runs from August 28 until September 3.
Driven asked the fashion trio about their thoughts on automotive design.
What was your reaction when Zambesi was named Mercedes-Benz Presents for this year's NZ Fashion Week?
Dayne: It is exciting and an honour to be involved with such a prestigious brand that shares similar hallmarks to Zambesi.
Liz: It is a great opportunity to enhance the exposure of the brand and open NZFW.
What does it mean for Zambesi?
Dayne: It has gained Zambesi a lot of media attention which has been beneficial to both brands. It is a nice synergy when both brands collide and collaborate together; there has been an energy boost to our design development with the partnership.
What Mercedes-Benz cars are you driving?
Liz: We are driving a beautiful porcelain white A250 Sport and the amazing GLE 250 SUV. The A250 has everything someone like me would want in a car. I am always influenced by a car's aesthetic before anything else. I love the shape and, as far as function is concerned, it is extremely comfortable and I am loving the seat-warmers on these cold mornings.
Dayne: Each time I sit in a Mercedes, I am overwhelmed and inspired with the quality of workmanship and the comfort of the interior, you feel confident and a million dollars when you are in front of the wheel.
What impresses you when it comes to the design of the cars (classic and current)?
Dayne: The sleekness and strong shapes of the cars stand out for me, reflecting classic design lines mixed with modern technology.
If you could design a car, what aspects would it have for the interior and exterior?
Liz: The interior would be a light shade of leather as I have found black interiors uncomfortable in summer and I like the feature of woodgrain in the dash. My preference of the exterior colour would be matte black.
Dayne: I have a french bulldog called Angus and he usually travels with me. He is sometimes dirty after walks, especially in winter, and I would like design the interior upholstery to be repellent and easy to clean. I like black upholstery but know it shows up all the dirt, so something which is removable and easy to clean perhaps? I would like to keep the exterior classic and would research iconic shapes from the past and bring them to life for today.
Zambesi designers Dayne Johnson and Elisabeth Findlay, pictured with a Mercedes-AMG S63 convertible. Photo / Matthew Hansen
What was your first car? Who taught you to drive?
Dayne: I learnt to drive in a Lada Niva that was my parents car and they used it to tow their boat. My mum taught be how to drive and she was extremely patient. The car was difficult to drive being a manual and the clutch was heavy and I always used to stall it. Learning to drive in a vehicle that was hard to get used to set me up as anything after that experience was easy to drive.
Liz: My first car was a Morris 1100 which I could not drive. Neville taught me to drive in Auckland. That was hilarious.
Favourite car and favourite colours?
Dayne: A black Mercedes-Benz, of course.
Liz: A car I loved that Neville bought me 30 years ago was a Ford Capri 1963 Consul Classic. It was white and we used it for a Zambesi campaign late in the 1990s.
What road trips have you done, in New Zealand and overseas?
Dayne: I have a friend who lives in Berlin and we are planning on doing a road trip from Berlin to Antwerp at Christmas time which takes about eight hours. I am excited about the trip, you get to see much more scenery and details when you are in a car.
Liz: Auckland to Wanaka every winter. Turkey coast. South of England to Greece. LA to San Francisco up the Big Sur coast. Hawaii.
What's your favourite weekend drive?
Dayne: I love taking my dog to the Takapuna beach. I also love the drive up to the Leigh Sawmill and have been on many trips up there in the weekends to see gigs. One of my favourite beaches is Pakiri; it is always brooding and moody walking along the beach.
What are your opinions of semi-autonomous cars? The future or just freaky?
Dayne: I think the possibilities are incredible and the way technology moves excites me. The future presents a lot of cool possibilities.
Neville: At the risk of bucking progress, I would like to see autonomous cars drive themselves far far away. I like to be in control so I am only just getting used to keyless. I did enjoy changing gears in the early days.
What have been some of the cars you've owned Neville? And what is your dream car?
I personally love classic cars because of their romance. Having previously owned a Mercedes-Benz 1960 190SL for many years is true testament to my love of classic cars. My first car was an Austin 10 1939. w. I learned to change the head gasket at 12, a job I had to do regularly. I taught myself to drive on a farm paddock.