When is a little black dress actually 10 little black dresses?

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 26 Comments

When it’s an Annah Stretton Chameleon dress, that’s when.

Before I explain the how-tos and where fors, I’ll rewind a couple of weeks. I’d been invited to come into the Annah Stretton boutique in Paddington, Brisbane. So off I went, walking into a gorgeous renovated workers’ cottage on Given Terrace that felt as far removed from chain store shopping as you could possibly get.

Let me paint you a visual picture …

Annah Stretton, Given Terrace, Paddington Brisbane

Love that this store melds with the history of Paddington, Brisbane

Love how inside there are little rooms showcasing the different Annah Stretton collections

The rooms of the cottage have been kept as open rooms, showcasing the different Annah Stretton collections

Vintage prints and frames adorn the walls

Vintage prints and frames adorn the walls

And so do flying ducks ...

And so do flying ducks …

Annah is a New Zealand fashion designer of international note with stores throughout New Zealand – and just two in Australia: Noosa and Paddington, Brisbane. She creates two designer collections (Annah Stretton and Annah.S) each season and is the publisher of Her Magazine.

Her designs have a clear nod to vintage style and a definite focus on fabrication and detail. She’s also passionate about making every woman feel amazing in what they wear.

Which brings me back to the Chameleon dress and what has me in store in the first place.

In its simplest description, the Chameleon dress is a wrap dress. But I’m not really doing it justice by calling it just that.

It can actually be worn 10 different ways and is fully reversible. And you don’t need a degree in origami to work it out how to twist, tie and tuck it into its possible shapes. In fact it’s practically impossible to stuff up how you tie your dress … it will just work (plus there are some great how to wear tips and videos on the Annah Stretton website).

The Annah Stretton Chameleon ... yes, that's the one dress

The Annah Stretton Chameleon … yes, that’s the one dress

I got to play and learn under the tutelage of sales manager Belinda Sherriff. Belinda knows her way around a Chameleon dress so well, she’s even come up with an 11th way to wrap it. Genius.  We played around with a mint green Chameleon to start. Something I would not usually have picked off the rack.

The Chameleon as a waistcoat

The Chameleon as a waistcoat

The Chameleon with a traditional v-neck neckline

The Chameleon with a traditional v-neck neckline

The Chameleon with a square neckline

The Chameleon with a square neckline

You can also wrap it back to front (the Audrey), wear it strapless, create a sweetheart neckline, a cowl neckline or even wear it as a skirt. The brilliant thing is because of the way the different fabrics are layered and blocked together, the look of the dress is completely different each time.

Now, I was warming to the 1940s vibe of this green dress … but then Belinda bought out the Diana. A lbd Chameleon – one of only 90 ever made. You could say we fell instantly in love … in a Mad Men kind of way.

Just check out the fabric detailing ...

Just check out the fabric detailing …

Yes, I had to break out the pearls ... feeling very 1950s glam

Yes, I had to break out the pearls … feeling very 1950s glam

The nitty gritty: the Chameleon is fully machine washable and doesn’t need ironing. Sizing is mostly determined by your bust measurement: extra small (size 6-10); small (size 10-14) – what I’m wearing; medium (size 12-16); large (size 16-20). Now, hold your breath, we’re not talking budget fashion here (although on a cost per wear and wardrobe investment basis, it’s good economies of scale) … the Chameleons are priced from $390. The Diana I’m wearing is $450.

Have you ever tried on a dress that felt just right? One that you knew would be in your wardrobe for life?

* The Diana Chameleon dress was gifted to me in accordance with my disclosure policy

Comments 26

  1. I am so late to this one! but because Annah is a kiwi and so am I … she has a book out that is completely fascinating about her life and business story.  See if you can find it, it’s really good 🙂 

    and there was an Annah shop just down the road from where I used to live in New Zealand.  It was always eye-catching, especially in a town where ‘making an effort’ was seen as somehow dodgy and ‘being a skite’! 

    Good on you Annah but I miss you, when are you starting up in Melbourne?! and enjoy your gorgeous dress Nikki, it looks fabulous on you! are you getting much wear from it? 

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  2. You look gorgeous Nikki!
    I loooove the black version- one of the things I like so much about Annah Stretton dresses is the limited number of each one.
    I own a red chameleon dress- and I wore it on the weekend to a cocktail party and felt amazing 🙂
    Have a wonderful weekend away xx

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  3. I look, and I look, but I still can not figure it out how this dress can be worn in so many ways… On the other hand it is beautiful, and it is right for you, you shine! 🙂 Worth every single dollar.

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      Thanks Anna … it’s all in the wrapping and twisting (or completely reversing). Because the fabric panels are all different it looks different. Great to get tuition in store, that’s for sure!

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      Yes, it takes practice but it comes with a card showing the looks. Belinda also told me they teach people 3-4 ways in the store and then tell them to come back in a couple of months to learn some more. That’s more realistic!

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  4. I love Annah Stretton and that LBD looks fab on you Nikki. I’d love it myself but as we’re in the depths of winter over here in the UK I cannot imagine wearing it for quite some time to come.

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      Oh, I knew I’d attract my Kiwi readers! And yes, difficult for winter unless you wore it as a waistcoat over jeans and long-sleeve top. Difficult to imagine … but the dress is really that clever!

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