Fashion forward: Home grown

Article by Home Magazine

Architecture is often little more than an anonymous backdrop for fashion shoots, so it’s nice to see a label turning this formula around.


Model Fraser Wood on the roof of Wellington’s Athfield House, recently inscribed with ‘Ath’ in memory of architect Sir Ian Athfield, who died earlier this year.


Working Style, the 28-year-old firm that creates made-to-measure men’s suits and ready-to-wear items, is making great New Zealand architecture the star of its campaigns.


Case in point: a new shoot at Wellington’s incredible Athfield House, which began its madcap evolution from rebel outpost (the local council hated it) to icon in 1965 and has not stopped evolving since.


After the death of architect Sir Ian Athfield earlier this year, the compound remains the home of Athfield Architects – the firm is very much alive and well – and family members, friends and associates.


Looking through a porthole-shaped window to a courtyard.


Working Style director Chris Dobbs grew up not far from Athfield House and says “it was always part of my psyche”.

Prior to the shoot there, the Working Style team had photographer Mark Smith (who does all their campaigns) shoot at Auckland’s soon-to-be-refurbished 1928 St James Theatre by Henry Eli White.


Now Dobbs is assembling a wish-list of other heritage structures. His tastes vary: he admires the classical beauty of Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery, designed by Donald Hosie in 1916, and New Plymouth’s brand-new Len Lye Centre by Pattersons.

“It’s our intention to embrace national treasures and be aware of all the country’s architectural community has to offer,” Dobbs says of his label’s campaigns, which also give him, happily, the chance to go on set.

“The day we were at Athfield House, we could have been anywhere in the world – the Amalfi Coast, Santorini – but we were in a 50-year-old piece of architecture that looks better today than when it was first born.”

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