'Can we talk about Khashoggi?' - Denise L'Estrange-Corbet ducks questions about World label controversy

Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, founder of the World fashion label, doesn't want to talk about her brand's brush with the Commerce Commission.

She'd rather chat about the slaughter of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

World last week admitted it likely breached trading rules by selling clothing made in China and Bangladesh with labels that said "Fabrique en Nouvelle-Zelande" - French for "Made in New Zealand".

But asked about it by AM Show host Duncan Garner on Monday, Dame Denise bizarelly claimed she didn't know what he was talking about.

"What stuff was that, Duncan? I knew you were going to throw that in. I don't even know what you're talking about."

"Can we talk about the Khashoggi thing? I find that so interesting."

Mr Khashoggi was a dissident Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist who died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, reportedly dismembered. During his long journalism career, Mr Khashoggi covered international conflicts and Middle Eastern issues - there's no evidence he was interested in fashion.

After pivoting the interview to mental health issues - Dame Denise has worked with the Mental Health Foundation for decades now - Garner brought up the label issue again.

"I'm going to accept then if it's made in New Zealand, it's made in New Zealand," he told her.

"Um, okay," she replied. "Next question."

Denise L'Estrange Corbet.
Denise L'Estrange Corbet. Photo credit: The AM Show

World has promised it won't use the "Fabrique en Nouvelle-Zelande" tags on imported clothing anymore, and will refund anyone who bought imported clothes under the mistaken belief they were locally made.

'Everyone wears clothes'

With all eyes on the royal couple this week, you'd expect Dame Denise to have her fingers crossed Meghan or Harry don a piece she's designed. The Duchess has already been seen wearing Karen Walker.

But Dame Denise is ambivalent, and isn't even convinced they'll boost business.

"I find it quite weird that people just see someone famous wearing something - you know, Beyonce or something - and they run out and want to own it. It doesn't turn you into Beyonce."

She hasn't sent anything to the royal couple for their consideration.

"We never do freebies. We never, ever have sent anyone anything for free for them to wear. It's just not what we do at World. Staff are artisans at what they do, and I feel it's an insult to give stuff away free... If you want it, you pay for it."

She said having "Joe Bloggs" wear World clothing means just as much to her as any royal.

"Everyone wears clothes."