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Industry Interview: Kharl Wirepa Couture

Posted on 10 November 2015

Kharl Wirepa is the head designer and founder of Kharl Wirepa couture, a New Zealand based label specialising in evening wear and glamour dressing. Kharl may be young, but he is a trailblazer in the fashion industry with a unique perspective and incomparable design aesthetic. We sit down with the young designer to talk about fashion, his brand and what it takes to be a young fashionista.

Kharl Wirepa Couture has taken NZ by storm, for those just discovering you and your brand, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

The key components to my existence are glamour, romance and sophistication. Fashion Designing is my main platform. I specialise in evening wear design and glamour dressing. Most of my clients include Beauty Queens, Brides to be, race day attendees and elite socialites. I do however operate in other areas. Charity is something that is important to me and I like people to know that I am not a pretentious fashionista but I like to help others. I am proud to be the key host for the Annual Salvation Army Charity Fashion show. I also hold fashion events to raise money for Parent to Parent (parents with disabilities) and I am also an event organiser. I create fashion themed events to strengthen the NZ industry. In 2015 I founded the OHO Fashion Show. This event gives young talent an opportunity not otherwise offered and promotes Maori Design and art.

For a young person, you have paved your way through the industry quite quickly. How did you get your beginnings in the fashion industry?

I got my first job in fast fashion when I was 15 working as a sales assistant at Supré. By the age of 18 I was the NZ senior manager. Through my time in that role, I had the opportunity to travel the country, stay in hotels and I worked with an amazing team. I later went into Magazine and Television Styling before taking a break and returning to the work force in 2013. It was then that I began to follow my dreams of becoming a fashion designer. 

What advice would you give to those wanting to follow in your path?

The best advice I can give anyone wanting to be in the fashion industry is a quote from Lady Gaga - “Honour your vision, or your vision will dishonour you” . 


How would you describe your design style and aesthetic? What inspires this?

I love timeless fashion, classic design lines intermixed with modern styling. I’m all for the glamour. I feel that glamour dressing is the height of fashion. Fashion is the science of appearances. And all of the most notorious fashionistas in history were glamazons. Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Eva Peron, Jacqueline Onassis, Kim Kardashian are all glamazons and they’re all timeless. Society lives in trend but a true fashionista lives forever. Glamour is having good taste and good taste is a spiritual thing,  something that represents good values. Why wear something that makes you seem cool to the audience we call humanity? What happened to dressing to be beautiful and to playing up your assets and bringing eloquence and class? I am inspired by what my soul tells me to do. 

Who are your personal fashion icons?

My fashion icons all have different aesthetics. I love Marie Antoinette, Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper, Cher, Bruno Mars, Joan Collins, Lilly Ghalichi, Coco Chanel, Jackie O, and Daphne Guiness. My all time favourite however is Isabella Blow. She was so far on the edge of fashion she literally fell off. 

What fashion trends do you love right now, and which trends do you wish would disappear?

I love the contouring make up trend. I would love for tights to disappear and for women to wear some real bottoms.

What is the best piece of styling or fashion advice that anyone can ever have?

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

To shop Kharl Wirepa Couture, see the latest collection and to find out more about Kharl, check out his official website or follow his brand on facebook

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