The fashion icon has ditched Kuwait to focus on charity.

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Fashion mogul Dame Peter Stewart When she introduced the first New Zealand Fashion Week in 2001, her goal was to give in-house designers a wider platform.

Since then, fashion week has become a must-see event in Aotearoa, showcasing Kiwi talent to the world, launching countless careers and brands.

In 2021, two decades after selling the event to businessman Feroz Ali, Stewart is set to close her career with the charity.

“I’d really like to take on two management roles. I’m also looking for charities to benefit from,” she says.

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But mainly I’m waiting to see what happens, because it’s only a matter of time before I stop running the business.

Before becoming the powerhouse behind fashion week, the 76-year-old was involved with many charities and community service groups, particularly with children’s cancer.

“I had to stop all these things when fashion week became too much for me. I hope to return to charity work because it is my passion,” she says.

The last fashion week was held in 2019 before the pandemic halted all large-scale gatherings.

Stewart said that designers felt “up in the air” during this period, but the ability to sell and market digitally has changed everything.

Dame Peter Stewart speaks at an event in Auckland to mark 20 years of Fashion Week.

Presented by Michael Ng

Dame Peter Stewart speaks at an event in Auckland to mark 20 years of Fashion Week.

“Most designers have very strong online stores, and for many it was their savior during Covid.”

As for the next Fashion Week, which is scheduled to take place in 2023, Stewart is looking forward to taking on an advisory role.

“I look forward to consulting with the new general manager, Yasmin Fari, for some time. She’s been our producer for 10 years, and she’s a very good, steady hand.

She says the role doesn’t take up much of her time, leaving her free to pursue other interests.

Stewart told Fashion Week fans: “We have dates booked for this time next year. So yes, we will start working on that.

Looking back on 20 years of Fashion Week, she wants to honor all the people who have been involved in the event over the past decade.

“I couldn’t ask for more because 20 years is a long time. It is very important to give credit to everyone who made the brand.

Kathryn Wilson, left, Julia Luchars and Lulu Wilcox.  Leuchars hopes that Fashion Week, under the new owner, will bring renewed energy and excitement.

Presented by Michael Ng

Kathryn Wilson, left, Julia Luchars and Lulu Wilcox. Leuchars hopes that Fashion Week, under the new owner, will bring renewed energy and excitement.

Trellis Cooper designer and marketing and communications director Julia Luchars says it has been difficult to survive without Fashion Week for three years.

When we added a little theater, we were so used to having this beautiful platform to showcase our stories and our brand, and suddenly it was all taken away from us.

The brand had to find ways to adapt, she says, and its already established digital platform became its saving grace.

“I oversaw all of our various digital communications, particularly the first lock-in and engagement on our digital platforms increased by 14,000% which was amazing.

But, she says, “there’s always room for that wonderful catwalk.”

With its new owner, Leuchars hopes Fashion Week will bring renewed energy and excitement, as well as fresh eyes.

“It’s not about replacing, it’s about building where we were, especially before the pandemic. For those in the industry, fashion week is a display of hard work mixed with a level of theatrics, excitement and passion.

Margie Robertson with NOM*d Models.  Robertson says you can't reproduce atmosphere digitally.

Presented by Michael Ng

Margie Robertson with NOM*d Models. Robertson says you can’t reproduce atmosphere digitally.

Margie Robertson, founder of fashion design label NOM*d, says the pandemic has heightened the importance of a digital presence.

But, she says, it’s the atmosphere you can’t replicate digitally.

“I missed the runways. Fashion week was an opportunity to do our own shows, our own music, with our own models.

She tips her hat to Stewart for having the courage to “stick with it” for 20 years.

“What she [Stewart] What she got in her time was amazing. I think she was learning along the way like everyone else.

“But I think it’s great to be able to let go and give some new ideas. We are entering a new era not only in fashion but globally as well.

She says she’s looking forward to seeing what happens at the next Fashion Week event “just like everyone else.”

Dame Peter’s daughter Maiken Stewart hopes next year’s fashion week will be bigger and better than ever.

“I hope that Feroze will continue the great work we have started and continue to make it even more valuable and continue to grow on what we have built.”

She says there’s no “me” in the event, and for more than 20 years, many people from all parts of the industry have worked together to create New Zealand’s thriving fashion scene.

“Everybody here, like the designers, security, hair and makeup team, are all people who have been a part of this since the beginning.”

“I’m so proud of her,” Stewart said of her mother’s accomplishments. She was a visionary.

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