Behind the Scenes at New Zealand Fashion Week: Exclusive Interview with Phoenix Renata


“NZ are quite tame with their makeup choices – contact lenses would be great for a show that has a bit of theatric drama in it.”

New Zealand Fashion Week is over for another year: the parties are over and the fashion models have already packed their bags and left for Milan and Paris. This year NZFW celebrated its thirteenth year and was again a tremendous success, and was a showcase for the incredible energy and passion that keeps this industry at the forefront of creativity. But New Zealand Fashion Week it is not all champagne and canapes.

Bringing the magic of the catwalk to life requires hard work and creative talent, both of which Phoenix Renata has in abundance. Phoenix is the driving force and creative inspiration behind her own make-up brand, chain of boutiques and beauty school. We interviewed her to find out the truth about what goes on behind the scenes, and this is what she had to say.

What was the atmosphere like at this year’s NZ fashion week? I felt backstage was pretty cruisey – and really organised this year. The NZFW crew were all really helpful. It was a great vibe.

How important an event has NZ fashion week become in the fashion industry? Extremely important, its not only a way for fashion designers to showcase their brand and range, but also a huge opportunity to establish newcomers and to put themselves on a international stage. NZFW also gives other brands associated to the fashion industry – such as cosmetics and hair brands the chance to show, or give seminars.

renata at workWhat was the highlight for you during the week? I produced x2 shows this year. The highlight for me was seeing both shows come together smoothly. I loved the mad hatter tea party set up we created for Annah Strettons – Annah in Wonderland show. Definitely this show had the most creative and detailed props and runway set up of the week.

What was the worst moment? Waking up at 5am to get ready for shows… early starts are not for me!

Did you have a favourite collection? I absolutely loved Mitchell Vincents collection as part of the Miramoda show. Incredible styling and beautifully tailored clothes.

Is it as glamorous as it appears or are there long hours and a gruelling schedule? Definitely long hours, gruelling schedule and months of planning beforehand. The glamour is what we create, it definitely isn’t backstage life. We create beauty, its more about being apart of something glamorous than actually being glamorous.

Do you plan a long time in advance for the show? Absolutely – 2 to 3 months beforehand. We start a vision and start creating mood boards long before then.

dollface-nzfwDo you get to see the collections much before the show? Absolutely – as a makeup artist, the collection and mood and theme of the collection is really important to know when creating a makeup look. When styling or producing a show, the clothes are an integral part of this.

Is there one makeup that you simply can’t do without? A product? I’d say backstage at fashion week – you must have a great primer. Models skin gets really sensitive and due to the constant taking off and re applying makeup, a primer ensures that their skin looks and feels beautifully smooth.

Do you have complete control over makeup or do you discuss it with the designer of the collection? It depends on the relationship with the designer, some that I work with give me 100% creative control. There is always give and take, and I would always do a makeup trial to make sure the look works with the mood of the show and the hair, and the collection.

If a model wears contact lenses, do you apply makeup differently? Not at all – contact lenses barely make a difference, if anything you’d be sensitive when applying eye makeup.

Do you ever consider using coloured contact lenses as part of the look you are trying to create? Absolutely, but NZ are quite tame with their makeup choices – contact lenses would be great for a show that has a bit of theatric drama in it. Not all designers take a big risk like that. Contact lenses would definitely be making a beauty statement.

Have you ever used coloured contact lenses? What colour would you choose and why? When I’ve done photo shoots and editorial work with a strong theme I have. Red, Green or Blue lenses for Halloween or doll-like themes look brilliant.

If women wear contact lenses are there any particular tips that you would suggest in terms of makeup and products to use? Not really, contact lenses are pretty standard these days and technology means most eye makeup and cosmetics are fine to use with lenses. If anything I’d just suggest that they were careful around their eyes during application and were gentle.

Who was your inspiration to start working in this field? I love working on runway shows due to the high pressure environment, and the high fashion you’re surrounded by. The creative people you get to work with are a bonus, always makes it fun. I love to create and make art and fashion is such a creative field.


“NZ women are afraid and don’t experiment enough. I wish more kiwis would play with colour and different textures of makeup.”

Are there any particular trends and styles in terms of makeup that particularly interest you? I am known as the Brow Queen by my peers, and often am named the Brow Nazi… so eyebrows are of huge interest to me. I love to create different brow styles and trends. I love making skin a feature and working on creating flawless skin whilst using really minimal makeup.

Do you think women in NZ wear enough makeup? Not at all… NZ women are afraid and don’t experiment enough. I wish more kiwis would play with colour and different textures of makeup.

If anyone is interested in pursuing a career as a makeup artist what advice would you give? So much advice to give… but the number one thing would be to make sure you have a passion for makeup. It is a hugely rewarding but challenging career path, you need to make sure you love it enough so that you can compete on a national stage, international if you wish. You need to have talent in the artistic area, and must must have a passion for it. Dreams don’t come true without putting in the work beforehand.

How many fashion shows do you do a year? What is your next fashion show? We do 3-4 shows at fashion week, as well as doing our own Phoenix Cosmetics makeup show. We’ll be doing a launch soon for Kiri Nathan, as well as another summer fashion show for Annah Stretton.


2017-09-20T02:45:30+00:00 Lifestyle|