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Paying Over $12,500 For A Suit

When Paying Over $12,500 For A Suit Is The Charitable Thing To Do

There's no need to feel guilty about paying over $12,500 for a suit. Especially when the money is going to charity, and the New Zealand-Italian made suit is going to make you feel a million dollars!

Thanks to fashion retailers Saks and Merino New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind has one such suit going under the hammer at its annual Braille Week Charity Auction on Tuesday 26 October at the Carlton Hotel.

The event is being held in conjunction with the announcement of the 1999 Blind Achievers' Awards - which celebrate the outstanding achievements of six blind and sight-impaired New Zealanders in the categories of Art & Craft, Business, Literature, Sport, Performing Arts, and Academia.

The made-to-measure suit, which will be crafted in Italy by Brioni, one of the world's finest tailors, is to be made from fabric woven by top international fabric manufacturers Loro Piana, who have used the finest bale of Merino wool ever produced in New Zealand.

The incredibly soft and fine grey-charcoal pinstripe fabric is currently on display at the Saks store in Broadway, - and according to Saks joint Managing Director Julian Reynolds, is perfect material for a (man's or woman's) Brioni suit.

"Every year tailors Loro Piana purchase the finest bale of New Zealand Merino produced. Last year this bale commanded $505 a kilogram, from which Loro Piana produced a cloth of such high quality it was not made available to purchase," says Merino New Zealand's Marketing and Information Technology Executive Michael F Merino New Zealand has formed a strong partnership with fabric manufacturers Loro Piana, who have developed an exclusive 100% New Zealand Merino fabric known as 'Zelander'.

"New Zealand's Merino sheep are majestic and distinctive in appearance and the fibre they produce ranks with cashmere as the finest and most rare of natural fibres, with a fibre diameter of 13- 24 microns," explains Michael Flatman.

Friday morning - a chance to see the fabric move!

Getting the opportunity to feel some of that Merino majesty and quality in-store at Saks on Friday morning (22nd October) at 10am will be Blind Foundation member Minnie Baragwanath, who will be wrapped in the fabric to demonstrate its quality and form. Joining her will be Merino New Zealand's Michael Flatman from Christchurch, Sak's Julian Reynolds and the Blind Foundation's Special Events Manager Tim Kay.

Minnie, a 29-year-old actor, voice-artist, television presenter, researcher and `sometimes' model is an entrant in the Performing Arts category of the 1999 Blind Achievers' Awards, the winners of which are announced at the auction.

"It's not every day you get to be wrapped in such quality and style. I'm looking forward to this," says Minnie, who explains her eye condition Stargardtz, which deprives her of any central vision but allows her colour and peripheral vision, has made her really value what she can see.

"Despite the fact I have low vision, I live very visually, as well as being very tactile," says Minnie, who admits to coming from a "long line of fabric addicts" including her great grandmother, grandmother and mother!

Blind Foundation Special Events Manager Tim Kay says Saks have been supporting the Braille Week auction for several years now, but have really topped their contribution this year with the Brioni suit offer.

"With Merino New Zealand, Saks have gone to a huge amount of effort to put together this unique package, which with the skill of our auctioneer Michael Williams and the enthusiasm of our guests, we certainly hope is going to fetch a lot more than $12,500.

We've never had anything like this before. The successful bidder is going to have a wonderful piece of clothing. And if we do get over $12,500 that bidder can feel very good about the fact that by doing so they will have donated a dollar for every one of our current 12,500 Blind Foundation members," says Tim Kay.

Over 50 items will be up for auction on Tuesday evening, which is being hosted by TV3's John Campbell and will include entertainment by The Nairobi Trio.

Other auction items include the opportunity to conduct the Auckland Philharmonic at Government House, an America's Cup collector's item, an evening of newsmaking with the Paul Holmes team, a vasectomy performed by one of Auckland's most respected surgeons and the chance to name a guide dog.

Among those attending the auction will be cricketing great Sir Richard Hadlee, representing the Bank of New Zealand.

Tickets for the evening, which includes champagne and a three- course meal are $75 or $750 for a table of 10. All money raised from the evening goes to providing services to blind and sight- impaired New Zealanders. For tickets contact Barbara Hieatt on 0-9- 355 6888.

The Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind has over 12,500 members. Its annual appeal Braille Week runs from Tuesday October 26 to Monday 1 November, and the Blind Foundation is hoping to raise $1.2 million.

The range of services the Blind Foundation is currently able to provide to blind and sight-impaired New Zealanders costs $21.5 million. Of that $10 comes from donations. The remaining $11.5 million comes from government and other sources.


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