Kiwi brand Zambesi kicks off New Zealand Fashion Week

The who's-who of Aotearoa style have descended to kick off New Zealand Fashion Week.

The event is into its 17th year and is showing no signs of slowing down - and this year, Kiwi brand Zambesi got to kick it off in style.

They've been on the fashion scene for 38 years, and have shown collections at 15 out of 16 fashion weeks so far.

But this time, it's a bit different.

Zambesi was this year's Mercedes Benz Presents designer, which means they opened New Zealand Fashion Week.

They were the only label to send their creations down the runway on Monday night - no other designers and no other distractions.

"When we found out the news it was super exciting, because it gave us an energy boost and a real excitement to be opening New Zealand Fashion Week," designer Dayne Johnston told Newshub.

Co-creator Liz Findlay said the lead-up has been a "mix of anxiety and kind of excitement".

"It's a great thing for the company and for the staff, and for our client base as well," she said.

There were 49 outfits and 26 models. It was no easy feat, and Zambesi had just eight weeks to do it.

"This winter collection that we've worked on doesn't go into the store until next year, but the gap between the summer and winter samples is quite tight," Johnston said.

When it came to the designs, Zambesi was tasked with creating a bespoke outfit as part of their partnership with Mercedes Benz.

Fittingly, they drew inspiration from a leather racing suit Johnston found in Paris.

"We found it in a vintage store and it kind of had lots of really amazing detail, and it had articulation in the knees," Johnston said.

Findlay said their inspiration came from the fabric and that flowed from a silver foil-coated cotton.

One suit was created for women, and one for men.

All that preparation led to one final moment, when Zambesi's creations prepared to head down the runway.

But despite the chaos backstage they made it, both starting and stealing the show.