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How creative Bec Snelling designs her timeless wardrobe

Bec Snelling’s work will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in local design. The creative launched the brand Douglas and Bec in 2006 with her father di lei, building a following for their locally manufactured furniture and homeware with a unique minimalist, sculptural aesthetic.

Last year the business evolved, following a fire in their Clevedon studio and her father’s semi-retirement, being renamed as Snelling Studio with Bec taking the reins. Today the focus on craft continues, but with a slower, fine-arts influenced approach; with “sculpture and functional objects” like the Lens Block Lumen, inspired by a yoga block, and striking pendants made from Perspex, brass and hand-blown glass.

That artistic approach to design also extends to Snelling’s own wardrobe, which focuses on heirloom pieces, simplicity and an appreciation for local – whether it be practical dressing for time in the workroom or dressing up to mark a special life moment.

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When I visited Gloria designer Kristine Crabb, I spotted the Fleur De Lis suit out of the corner of my eye in her workroom and was obsessed and could not get it out of my mind. Wearing it is like getting married everyday! I wore it for the launch of the Snelling brand last year. I love that it felt so exemplarily of the occasion. It spoke of the re-birth of the brand. The girl has grown up.

You can take the girl from Maungaturoto but not the Maungaturoto from the girl. I have always worn Swanndri, since I was a little girl. It’s iconic. I wear an oilskin vest all the time in my country activities with horses and dogs, but also at work in the factory and even over my blazers in wet weather. Oilskin has a smell and feeling – it gets better with age.

Being an active country girl, I do a high (maybe medium) / low combo mostly. Today for example I’m wearing a Gloria two-piece suit with a sleek cardigan underneath and the Swanndri vest over the top, paired with Adidas Ozweego sneakers, a Macpac belt bag, leather gloves and the Twister Midi bag by Deadly Ponies – all in black. I also have fun days where I do not wear any black at all anywhere including knickers…

When it comes to my wardrobe and style, I love ambivalence. I straddle contradictions all the time. It’s very much my personality. One minute I’m pretty serious and then playful. My personal style evolves as I do. I adore thinking about combos, piecing things together – so much fun. I do buy a lot more quality now; much less fast fashion.

I like to support local brands such as Gloria, Paris Georgia, Wynn Hamlyn and Rachel Mills. I wore a Paris Georgia dress for my 40th birthday after a monumental life changing journey and I just felt, wow – I’m really this person now! My Rachel Mills stirrup pants bring the most comfort currently. I’m a sucker for a stirrup.

For me luxury is how I feel, the fabric and the fit. Silk and leather are my buzz. I’m not overly into and nor have had the budget for what would, I guess, be assumed as luxury.

Through art school, we wore amazing things. I remember in about 1999/2000, my friend and I used to get our jeans, turn them inside out and run them through the sewing machine and make them skinny – people thought we were crazy. Teamed with Adrian Hailwood smoking girl T-shirts, which we cut off to make off the shoulder, and a studded belt and high-top black Chucks.

My mother’s incredible red leather biker jacket is one of the oldest and most sentimental things in my wardrobe. She got a full leather jumpsuit made and this was a part of a suit (God knows what happened to the skirt). My mum was pretty racy for Maungaturoto in the ’80s.

My earliest clothing memory is mainly mum. Spaghetti jeans meets aerobics meets floor-length camel coats and houndstooth pencil pleat stirrup pants. Lots of red lipstick. And she loved [the brand] Thornton Hall. I thought she was actually in Gloss (the ’80s TV show). We’d come to Auckland and sit in Thornton Hall for what seemed like hours.

BEC’S WISH LIST

Tronque Scar Concentrate, $ 160

I have heaps of scars and I’m keen to get this.

Jil Sander jacket

I love things that are textural and also wearable, cozy and one piece – like this silk merino mohair jacket from the Fall 2022 collection.

MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation, $ 82

I’ve used this for as long as I can remember. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, as I am super invested in beautiful skin, but this accentuates what is there.

Aspect Dr Resveratrol Moisturizing Cream, $ 115

I adore this as it’s so nourishing.

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