Edible Fashion Awards attract top female designers to the judging panel

Edible Fashion Awards attract top female designers to the judging panel
05 May

In kitchens and classrooms, studios and sitting rooms across the Bay minds are ticking and fingers are getting busy – drawing, designing, stitching, raiding pantries and markets for materials.

As harvest draws to a close, once again, the Edible Fashion Awards loom large on the creative calendar.

Since its inception in 2006, the event has grown in pomp and prestige, and this year has attracted a panel of judges drawn from New Zealand’s best and brightest designers, whose social conscience reflects this year’s design theme of Peace, Love & Diversity.

Annah Stretton
We’ve all admired Annah Stretton’s eye-catching outfits from the windows of her Havelock North shopfront. But there is so much more to the successful CEO and designer than fabulous frocks. Channelling the same tireless dedication with which she has built her business over the past 27 years, Stretton uses her platform for good. She was shortlisted for 2018 New Zealander of the Year for her work spearheading a number of philanthropic endeavours under the umbrella of the Stretton Foundation.


Since 2013, RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) has offered escape for women trapped in the cycle of crime and incarceration in the form of education and practical support. Three years later she formed Kia Puāwai (to blossom) – a holistic programme designed to combat the current obesity epidemic and promote a healthy lifestyle. By giving disadvantaged women a chance and a choice, they in turn become voices for change – engaging their whānau and communities to offer those at risk an alternative – a hand up, not a hand out.

Fifi Colston
All that emerges from the studio of Fifi Colston is both strange and beautiful to behold. A veteran of the World of Wearable Art, with 24 final entries under her belt, most recently she took home the Weta Workshop Other Worlds Award for The Organ Farmer. Her striking fabrication, modelled in part on a real human skeleton (which she thanked with a hug after each work session) boasts a complex science fiction back story that speaks of cyborgs and what it means to be human.

As an illustrator, she contributed to Go Girl, Barbara Else’s trail blazing catalogue of New Zealand’s female icons. Her pen brought to life figures as diverse as Olympic athlete and UN diplomat Beatrice Faumuina; and legal leader Mai Chen. Colston is passionate about mentorship too – as a Duffy Books-in-Homes role model, and hosting workshops for children and adults alike. Her multi-award-winning books, Wearable Wonders and Ghoulish Get Ups are essential reading for aspiring Edible Fashion entrants.

Tessa Paaymans
Local success story Tessa Paaymans is living proof of how far the Edible Fashion Awards can take you. Her 2008 winning entry launched a career that has seen her work splashed across the pages of British Vogue and shown on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week. One of her designs selected for display on the runway of one of the most prestigious events in global fashion was constructed from 5kg of pasta – and debuted on the Edible Fashion stage.

A journey that started in technology class at Karamu High School carried her through EIT and Toi Whakaari’s costume department to Wellington’s world-renowned Weta Workshop. There, her innovation and skill have been given wings to take flight – working on costumes for the Power Rangers movie, as well as Te Papa’s Bug Lab exhibit. But despite these accolades, she has not forgotten her Hastings roots, recently returning home and returning for a second year on the judges’ panel.

Feeling inspired by these ladies’ creative and professional achievements?

Event director Kelie Jensen says there is still plenty of time for aspiring designers to get their creative juices flowing and fashion an entry from food or food packaging for this year’s event.

With more than $12,000 to be won over four age categories, the deadline for online registration is May 20, but entrants have until preliminary judging on June 15 to complete their creations.

For more information, to register an entry or purchase tickets to the Awards show on Saturday, June 16, visit



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