Otago Daily Times: Legging It

Leg wear is taking a well-deserved place in fashion’s dress circle this season. Jude Hathaway reports.

Women’s legs can be any way they want to be this winter, thanks to hosiery manufacturers being perfectly in sync with the prevailing multi-trend fashion climate.

They’re playing to the dress craze, the return of mini-skirts and the short-shorts-over-tights-look, creating free-wheeling statements that have made leg wear the most exciting accessory this winter. Better still, while turning up the aesthetic temperature to hot, the practicalities of warmth for colder climates has not been lost.

Leg wear has successfully kicked in to help fashion followers change their looks this winter without crippling their cash flow.

They can give their fave dresses oomph by day with bright harlequin, Fair Isle, checked or tartan tights and for evening move to sophisticated pantihose in black polka dots, fragile lacy designs or those that are graphically patterned, textured, embellished and gilded. The gem-tricked styles, particularly those that came down the runways at the recent European shows, add further stylish high notes.

Designs in pantihose, stockings and stay-ups convey ultra-elegant and “lady-be-good” looks through to the girlie and not-so-innocent that set out to mercilessly tease. They range from gossamer-fine 7 denier (“denier” is the weight of the yarn used) up to thick 200 denier and from the exquisite to the zany and funky.

Hosiery buyer for Arthur Barnett Cat Callanan points out the strong burlesque and other retro influences, such as back seams, stockings and suspender belts. Not surprising really, when the idea of alluring legs traces back to at least the French cancan and the Moulin Rouge.

Then there’s those pantihose styles deliberately designed to look like stockings and suspenders, such as those from the House of Holland and the Italian Trasparenze range.

These have a coolly sensual aspect, but as Ms Callanan points out: “They’re not necessarily designed to be seen by others – they’re just a great way for women of all ages to feel just that little bit naughty.”

Another keenly aware that premium hosiery is not just about how it makes women look but how it makes them feel is Karen Short, managing director of the Auckland-based family company Intimissima, that has been involved in the importing and distributing of leading international hosiery brands for 18 years.

A year ago the company decided to curate its own premium collection, targeting both New Zealand and overseas markets. It is called Bellamagia.

“While the hosiery is manufactured in Italy all aspects of the brand were developed in New Zealand by a talented and dedicated team of local businesses,” Mrs Short said.

“We decided to cater to women’s alter egos so named the 16 styles by type.”

Among these are “The Contessa”, “The Romantic”, “The Actress”, “The Panther”, “The Femme Fatale”, “The Goddess” “The Dancer”, “The Warrior”, “The Rebel”, and “The Writer”.

In April, the range hit the shops throughout New Zealand, including Arthur Barnett in Dunedin.

Yet another locally designed brand is Iwi Creations, behind which are three artists, Lyonel Grant, Leilani Rickard and Pahnia Skinner. With varied skills and attributes and a desire to build a hosiery line reflecting traditional Maori tattoos and markings, they’ve come up with a vibrant and richly-patterned offering.

Iwi Creations is manufactured in New Zealand by the country’s long-established Columbine Industries Ltd in Gisborne, which has been producing the full hosiery range from fashion lines to school socks since 1951.

Columbine is equally innovative, its exciting ranges including tartan, Fair Isle and fabulous neon-toned fashion leg wear set to punctuate winter looks.

Other attention-grabbers are vinyl “wet look” and metallic leggings, over-stitched denim jeggings and the often colour-drenched and preppy over-the-knee and under-the-knee socks.

So, whether it’s the coquette, the sophisticate or the wild child bursting to come out, this winter leg wear might well be the ideal conduit.

Back to News