Making history: Vinka Design

She established New Zealand's first fashion house. Now, the elegant aesthetic of Vinka Lucas is being carried on by her daughter to dazzling effect.

  • Story by Rachel Ramsay

She established New Zealand's first fashion house. Now, the elegant aesthetic of Vinka Lucas is being carried on by her daughter to dazzling effect.


'Before Vinka, New Zealand was a nation of dressmakers,' says Anita Turner-Williams, daughter of Vinka Lucas. 'She was the first designer. Her gowns were extravagant and glamorous and totally more than what Kiwi girls had ever been expecting or hoping for. She encouraged girls to do different things.'

Unsurprisingly, Vinka's personal style was one of dazzling brilliance. According to Anita, Vinka had the type of charisma that drew sell-out crowds to her annual fashion shows (one of which was attended by Princess Margaret) and the kind of dress sense that won Best Dressed awards at events such as the Melbourne Cup. 

'She would walk in and everyone would look,' says Anita. 'She'd go out to dinner in a full-length gown and bauble earrings. Her hair was always up, heels always on. She'd come to school athletics day having finished her look with big 60s sunglasses, the oversized hat and the cigarette. She did not blend in.'

Although Vinka pass the Vinka Design torch to Anita four years ago, her stamp of extravagance is still firmly imprinted in the Auckland boutique.

Discover more of the history and philosophy behind the family-owned fashion house in our latest summer issue - on shelves today. 


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