News – Madame Fancy Pants


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Fancy Session: 5

Liz Butler & Abi Sucsy

Liz: Co-founder of Yellow Cat Collective & Improviser, Director & Teacher
Pronouns: She/Her, They/Them

Abi: Co-founder of Yellow Cat Collective and national engagement leader/project administrator for Te Kura o te Kauri.
Pronouns: She/Her, They/Them

Liz (Short blonde hair) wears: Ink Green Overalls by SÜK and the Snug Tee in White by Kindling. 

Abi (Long red hair) wears: Navy Overalls by SÜK, top is Abi's own.

Kia ora both! Thank you so much for speaking with me today! 

L: Woohoo! Yes!
A: Kia ora!

You both run the Yellow Cat Collective. Please tell us more about the collective, and how it came into being. 

L: Starting Yellow Cat was us proving to ourselves that we can get shit done. It’s a collective where we encourage each other to “do the thing”. I think we partially started it so we could take ourselves seriously as creators. Yellow Cat Co was always within us, clawing to get out - (pun intended!). As soon as I met Abi it was clear we were both hungry for projects. Our first project was a zine called “Hot Fat Water” that is part collage, part recipes, part time capsule for the beginning of our friendship. Yellow Cat was born because Abi had ideas and I had the know-how of how to devise a show and an unfailing “say yes” attitude. At the time, we were relatively new to the Wellington creative scene. I was brand-brand new, and Abi had 4 years under her belt. But we wanted to create a collective that allowed us to gain the skills to produce projects told from female and queer perspectives that excited us, and that allowed our friends gain skills as well. Yellow Cat Co is a learn-by-doing endeavor and it has been a vehicle for us believing in ourselves as artists!   

A: Ditto what Liz said. I started dancing and performing much older in life and felt a huge gap between taking classes and professionally performing, there didn't seem to be a lot of options in between those two. So Yellow Cat Collective is a chance for us to organise ourselves and our dream projects and say f**k it, let's make this happen! Looking and applying for funding was sort of the practical impetus for starting Yellow Cat, which was a really huge space for us to start to navigate. It's really magic to work and learn with Liz! She and everyone we work with keep me going. Big shout out to Jake, Ben, Ellen, Aaron, Karwin, Jo and Andrew!

Yellow Cat is going to be performing your show The Yellow Wallpaper in the historic Katherine Mansfield house and gardens in July. Can you tell me more about the show, and how the space will be utilised to tell the story?

L: Honestly I’m so grateful we get to perform at KMH&G. We’ve been so lucky to have these beautiful old homes to perform in, that completely enhance the experience of the work.  

When we did our full dance/movement adaptation of The Yellow Wallpaper for Fringe in March 2021; we dissected the text and took over one of the art rooms at Inverlochy Art School for an incredibly intimate production. Having the audience experience our show while also experiencing the historic home elevated the timelessness of this short story. 

Even though the work was written over 100 years ago the relevancy of themes are ever present today. Now for this piece at KMH&G we are pinching our fingers and zooming in on the text to dive even deeper into the nuance of these themes. We’re especially compelled by the push and pull of the work.

 A: While still being fully rooted and reacting to the text, this show is developed from the deeper themes in it. It is less based on story, and more digging into the emotional base of the characters and archetypes. It's been an interesting process! Everytime I try to talk about it I find it so difficult... that's why dance is so good! 

What do you find inspiring about living in Wellington? 

L: Wellington is the sourdough starter of cities. Everyone’s obsessed with it and it helps you start a crusty loaf of life bread. It’s remarkable just how supportive the opportunities are, I really felt that during my first week here when I saw people I knew on Cuba Street. Also, there's an ocean here. It makes my whole body blush getting to live this close to the sea! 

A: I like Wellington because it's windy and wind makes me feel excited. Also because the people here are so kind and the fashion is very open. 

What art is exciting you at the moment? 

L: The art of shining your shoes and taking care of your things! Also the artist Ciara Leroy of Pretty Strange Design.

A: The dancing and choreography of Juliano Nunes, Ruri Mitoh, Jacob Jonas the Company, our own NZ contemporary company Footnote! Also - María Medem.

What are your favourite spots on Cuba Street? 

L: Hot take: I think Zelati’s ice cream is the best in town. Fact. Hana Akari - Miki has the loveliest little shop filled with self care wonders and gives the best massage in Wellington. Wellington Apothecary, shout out to Alexa! Aunty Mena’s. And 1154 Pastaria - talk about dairy free options for the pasta lover - my god! 

A: Oh Liz hit some good ones! A new favourite of mine is Nolita's! Wellington Sourdough and Mother of Coffee on the Left Bank. Long will I mourn the loss of Viva Mexico Left Bank!

The combination of a short black, followed by a citrus twist from Midnight Espresso, then going to life drawing at Wellington School of Drawing on a Wednesday or Friday night is the best. If you can't handle coffee that late; just the juice and drawing!

L: Oh my, pizza! Yes Nolita. 200%.

How would you describe your personal style, and who are your influences? 

L: Zealous Chameleon™. I feel like my style allows me to become a new character everyday which is convenient because I have a lot of characters up my sleeve and a lot I have yet to meet! My style flirts with the 80s. It embraces androgyny. It’s playful, curious and full of colour. It’s also very comfortable, I’ve gotta digest somehow! I’m influenced by my sibling Moo, my sister Bea, Dronme (@dronme), Alok (@alokvmenon), I style like u videos, people on the street, skater bois and the way my body feels when I wake up.

I also really admire Abi’s style. She consistently looks breathtaking and timeless.  

A: My style has changed a lot recently - I wish I could be a Zealous Chameleon but I think I'm more like kelp green, over brewed tea brown and black with occasional splashes of color. I guess a shy octopus is my inspiration! Also Ellen Butler. She is so stylish!

And Liz! I love how you really put an outfit together and it's like ‘MMMM I'M HERE!’

What has been your biggest revelation/lesson of the last year? 

L: Ask for what you want. So much of this past year has been realizing that showing up for others also means showing up for yourself. 

A: Ask others what they need instead of guessing. Things are always better when they are talked about in the open. And that if you want something, make a plan and then go for it. Or go for it and then make a plan as you go! That you can achieve your goals if you break it down into smaller pieces.

And now that I have octopus on my brain I realised this year that they are just the coolest! I started diving again this year - it's amazing and octopus is the best. Oh gosh I'm rambling! Cut this out hahaha!

Hahahaha! I refuse to cut any talk of octopi. (Come at me octopus people!)

Do you have any daily rituals? 

L: Oh I'd love to tell you I have a daily ritual. I desperately want one.

BUT what I do have is a weekly ritual of going to the Freyberg sauna and then walking into the ocean, breathing through the cold, washing my feet at the outdoor shower, going back to the sauna then the ocean again! It’s a ritual that makes my brain and my body much happier! 

A: I actually do! Partly because I have animals, but mostly because I don't like doing dishes at night. Every morning I get up and boil the kettle, turn RNZ on, then feed the kittens and quail. I make tea and coffee and do the dishes. Then I kiss the kittens on the nose and go to work. At night I always take a little bird bath (if I'm not showering), put Wellington Apothecary lotion on my face, rub some tiger balm on and stretch. 

What music are you listening to currently? 

L: New Wave always. Japanese Breakfast’s new album, “Jubilee”. “Seabird” by Babeheaven. “Floating by” by Washed Out, and “I’ll Never Make it in the Music Industry” by Jungle Green. It’s got the humour and heart of being an artist and trying to “make it”.

A: Turntables by Janelle Monáe and Numb by Andy Stott on repeat. And Lil Nas X. 

What do you appreciate most about working with the other?

L: Abi is such a beautiful human in all the ways! I love her dreams, her vision, and her dedication to paying artists. Abi comes to projects with such verve, passion and thoughtfulness for everyone involved. There are so many times when we have been there for each other, talking through an issue or an idea. We’ve exercised those muscles consistently so now when we need to talk about something hard or uncomfortable, we tackle it with trust and knowing that we’ll be better for it. She’s well aware that you don’t get good enough by waiting to be good enough, you get good enough by putting yourself out there! Abi has taught me to put myself out there. So grateful for her.

A: Oh my gosh so much! I'll name a few things. So definitely Liz has an incredible work ethic - she just puts that time in!! And she knows so much more about performance inside and out, especially organizing all the things that have to happen around it like…advertising and rehearsal calendars and logistics. I honestly would not be here without her. At all. I couldn't even dream this was possible. Also she is really honest in communicating her feelings which I appreciate, and self aware. I love you Liz!

You can find out more about Yellow Cat Collective here.

Photography by Aimée Sullivan.

Photos taken in Liz's home in Mount Cook. 

Atelier - Greytown's new workshop space!

MFP has a new wee project happening behind our new Greytown Village Madame Fancy Pants - Atelier, a workshop space to learn new crafts.
We have a few workshops in July, Emerald City Botanicals has hanging boughs, wreaths & cleansing sticks. We have a few seats left for Leah Vivianne's punch needle classes.
Our spoon carving workshops with Ricky Dey sold out - but we will be putting more on in August.
Come join us in Greytown's new learning & crafting space - Atelier.
July Workshops range from $65 - $110.
See you soon!


If you love a rainbow, then we have you covered! Rainbows for you, rainbows for your pals, rainbows for the little ones!


Come join the Cuba MFP team!


Madame Fancy Pants stores are welcoming, fun, inclusive spaces where you will find an array of beautiful, hand-picked goods from NZ and afar. Selected for you and your loved ones and packed up with care and love by us. The MFP team.

We are excited to be taking applications to join the Madame Fancy Pants retail team. MFP is looking for a superstar sales assistant to join us at our Cuba Street team on Fridays and weekends (approx. 12-17 hours) 

This role would suit a self employed/freelancer keen to work in a team or student.

Key accountabilities include:

- Driving sales and customer satisfaction to an exceptional standard
- Building and nurturing long lasting customer relationships
- Maintaining store appearance to the Madame Fancy Pants standard

Applicants must have:

- Previous relevant experience in retail or hospitality or sales
- Ability to communicate effectively with both customers and team members
- Ability to stay motivated when working unsupervised
- Attention to detail
- Be passionate about clothing and design
- Loves building relationships with customers
Shows initiative and pride themselves on going above and beyond for both customers and fellow team members alike
- Experience with Google Drive, Sheet and Docs
- Understanding of POS and Ecom systems (Vend/Shopify)
- Be flexible and able to commit to a role long-term 
- A passion and talent for creating social media posts would be an advantage

MFP offers:

- A supportive and nurturing culture
- Great perks
- The opportunity to grow an established brand

Please email your cover letter addressed to Claire and Aimee and your CV to: or drop in to the Cuba store with them and see Aimee by Friday 7th June 2021.

Due to the volume of applications we receive, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted at this time.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

Claire & Aimee

The Fancy Sessions: 4

Cassandra Tse

Cass amongst foliage in a green house. She is smiling with a hand on her hip, and looking away from the camera. She is wearing a floaty elbow length top, and a confetti patterned red/pink skirt.

Job Title: Artistic Director, Red Scare Theatre Company 

Pronouns: She/Her

Cassandra wears:

Set 1: The Serene Top in White by Blak, the Confetti Vision Skirt by Kindling, and the Maria Kumara Earrings by Mrs Rockett.

Set 2: The Curious Cat T Dress by Tara Whalley, and the Black Cats Earrings by Denz.

Photography by Rosie Trott 

Kia ora Cassandra! Thank you so much for speaking with us today. What do you find inspiring about living in Wellington? 

The compact geography and walkability of this city means that there is a real sense of community here — it is impossible to walk down the street without running into someone you know. I worry that the rising rental costs and housing prices in the city are going to price a lot of young people and artists out of Wellington City, and I really hope that our politicians act soon to ensure that this sense of community can persist into the coming years.

What is your favourite art you’ve consumed recently? 

I'm a late arrival on this one, but I recently binged the first three seasons of Search Party, which is probably one of the best-written television shows of the '10s. The casting is perfect, the production design is gorgeous and perceptive, the performances toe the line between satirical humour and emotional authenticity flawlessly… I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I apologise to all my friends for ignoring them when they told me to start watching it back in 2016!

How has the last year been for you? 

I have had a surprisingly good and productive last year,  given the effect that COVID-19 has had on my industry (live theatre). I kept busy, both with teaching gigs via Zoom and through working on socially distanced projects. My company produced an audio drama series during the aftermath of Level 4 lockdown called Apocalypse Songs, with a fantastic cast and crew of some of my favourite theatre practitioners in the city.

It was a project I had written back in 2018 but had thought I would not get a chance to produce; as a silver lining of the pandemic shutdowns we were able to get a grant from CNZ to put it together, and I am really proud of the result. I did have another show on last year that had to close when we went back to Level 2 in August, but we are going to be coming back with a return season for that show later this year, which is very exciting.

You are soon to be directing Single Asian Female for Auckland Theatre Company. I would love to hear about how you’re finding the process. 

I haven't started the actual "directing" process yet as I'll be heading up to Auckland for that, but I have been doing a lot of prep work, which includes working with a really fabulous team of designers on the look and feel of the show, as well as collaborating with the playwright Michelle Law on how to localise the play to New Zealand from its original Australia.

ATC have been incredibly supportive and the casting process has been really inspiring; we have such a wealth of acting talent in New Zealand and I'm excited to get to work with the cast.

What are your favourite spots on Cuba Street?

As a coeliac, I have to give a shout out to all the amazing gluten free options up and down Cuba! 1154 Pastaria do fantastic gluten free pastas, Duck Island has GF waffle cones (and the most incredible white chocolate and roasted miso flavour).

Mother of Coffee down Left Bank has huge vegan and gluten free shared platters on injera bread which everyone should try, gluten-intolerants and gluten-lovers alike.

How would you describe your personal style, and who are your influences? 

I have a very bold, colourful, patterned style with retro influences. I shop almost exclusively at op shops (good for my wallet and good for the planet) and enjoy looking for obscure clothing items in the bargain bins.

In terms of influences, I feel like my personal aesthetic is equal parts rockabilly, 1940s housewife and Iris Apfel.

What has been your biggest revelation/lesson of the last year?

I feel like this past year has been a good time for us in the arts to take a step back and realise that our industry has a lot of harmful habits. We work ourselves to the bone until we burn out, we work through illness, we feel immense guilt about taking time off to look after ourselves — and a lot of these habits have come about because of the financial precarity inherent to working in theatre.

We don't have understudies in New Zealand and the profit share system means that calling in sick from a show affects everyone's income, not just your own. So, for me, living through the COVID-19 pandemic has changed my attitude to how health should be prioritised in theatre, both for myself and the other artists that I support as a director and producer.

What music are you listening to currently? 

I've recently been enjoying the soundtrack to In Strange Woods, a musical audio drama.

The whole audio drama is worth listening to, but the soundtrack album contains most of the show's musical highlights and features performances by some top quality Broadway actors like Patrick Page, Donna Lynne Champlin and Beth Leavel — contemporary musical theatre with a folk influence.

You can find tickets for Single Asian Female here.

You can read more about what Red Scare Theatre Company and Cassandra have coming up here. 

Photography by Rosie Trott 

Photos taken in Wellington Botanical Gardens & Begonia House 

The Fancy Sessions: 3

Sasha Tilly 

Sasha laughing in the midst of green foliage in a purple stripey top and glasses.


Job Title: Festival Director for New Zealand Fringe Festival (in Wellington)

Pronouns: She/Her

Sasha wears the Sherbert Sparkle Bodysuit by Kindling, the Erin Skirt in Neon Coral by Tuesday, and the Mirer Reverie Earrings in Gold by Republic Road. 

Kia ora Sasha! The NZ Fringe, of which you are the Director is fast upon us! How are you feeling about it?  

Short answer, excited! 

Long answer is truly lucky. We're lucky to live here in NZ, to have strong leadership in this crazy world, and to have the freedoms that we do to move around, to gather together and experience art together. We’re so lucky that so many amazing artists have chosen to share their work with us, it’s truly humbling! This is our biggest Fringe ever, as well as our most Wellington Fringe ever, there’s over 160 events and at least 130 of those are from the Wellington region! I love that I get to play a part by facilitating sharing all of the incredible mahi of our artists with the city.

It’s been an unsettling year for the arts, how have you maintained self care and calm throughout? 

There’s a few key things -  first is that I started following almost exclusively fat fashion babes on Instagram, seeing bodies like mine celebrated in fashion has made a massive difference to how I view myself.

I also started making resin earrings during the lockdown, not for any particular reason other than I wanted more excuses to play with glitter as an adult, but people seem to quite like the result which is cool.

My third thing is treats and trinkets, I periodically will just get myself something small like a new glasses chain or an edible treat, I find it quite difficult to walk away from a caramel slice to be honest. But also I very much enjoy things like long baths, or a walk in nature, treats I can give myself for free. Finally, I feel so privileged that I’ve had a solid job through all this.

Something that has kept my mind at peace, has been donating to arts organisations who’ve been struggling over the last year.  Knowing that I’ve contributed in a small way to helping them stay afloat, and knowing that colleagues and friends will still have some income going forward is really grounding for me.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at the Fringe? 

You’re really going to ask me to narrow it down?! Ooh gosh, okay here are some of my hot picks.

Celestial Nobodies at BATS Theatre for sure. I’ve been following the work of Potentially Playing Productions for a while and I’m excited about this new offering!

Potluck at FatG, I’m a sucker for events that include all your senses and I’ve heard that this one is a veritable feast (literally.) Also The Drawing Marathon at Wellington Drawing School, for me these folks exemplify the kaupapa of Fringe as a festival for anyone and everyone, and from a personal level as well, I’m quite bad at drawing so I’m suuuuuper excited about the opportunity to join a community and work on my skills in with like minded people in a safe space.

What do you find inspiring about living in Wellington? 

I reckon Wellington is the Pascall’s Party Pack of the country, don’t you think? It’s all the best bits together in one city.  I LOVE Wellington, I’m a Wellingtonian through and through, born and bred. I will defend the honour of Wellington as the best city in the world to the end of time. All those “Wellington is dead” articles that were going around recently were clearly written by people who haven’t spent any decent time here. I mean sure, there’s the wind, and the rusting water pipes, and the occasional threat of sewage in the harbour. But it’s my personal opinion those things just weed out the weak, and those of us brave enough to stick around are the cream of the crop. Honestly, you don’t need to travel far to be at a pretty remote beach, or surrounded entirely by nature, but at the same time Wellington has some of the best food, most delicious beers and most incredible live performance in the world. I truly believe that. 

How would you describe your personal style, and who are your influences? 

I don’t know if I would be able to pin it down, it changes daily based on my mood, but also the weather! It’s very important to me to be appropriately dressed for whatever weather we’re experiencing that day, and I always, always have extra layers! It’s why I can’t be one of those girls who carries around a tiny purse; I need a massive bag to hold all my spare jumpers. I have this image in my head that I’m chic and classic in my style. In reality though, I’ve been described many times as eclectic haha, so, that I guess? 

It’s such a cliche, but my mum and my grandmother are my biggest influences for sure. My grandmother was a seamstress who made wedding dresses, and also had a boutique called Dressing Up With Margot. She was a woman who’s relationship with jewellery particularly, but fashion in general too, would definitely be described as the bigger the better, so I learned at a young age to not be afraid of taking risks with what I wear (to varying levels of success!) And my mum is one of the most stylish women I know. Lucky for me we have the same sized feet and we are similar sizes in clothing too so there is a lot of wardrobe swapping that goes on. And by that I mean, I steal things from her wardrobe and “forget” to return them.

What has been your biggest revelation/lesson of the last year? 

My current favourite quote is “Surround yourself with women who would mention your name in a room full of opportunities.” I’ve always had close friends from all the genders, but over the course of the past year I’ve come to rely much more heavily on my gal pals. Growing up I was one of those girls who constantly said “other girls are just so bitchy, I get on much better with guys there’s way less drama, y’know” (I know, I’m sorry, it’s my secret shame) I’ve definitely changed my tune now though! I am very lucky to have the kinds of women in my life who raise me up, a-la Josh Groban, and (I hope) I do the same for them. Supportive female friendships for life!

Where are your favourite spots on Cuba Street?

MFP, but that’s a given.

Oh stop it! 

It's true! Also, Rams for their chilli oil dumplings, The Makers (technically Abel Smith St but basically still Cuba) for locally made and absolutely unique jewellery, Ivy Bar & Cabaret for year round live events and dancing, Qilin Tea House for some of the loveliest staff and the best smoothies.

You can find everything on at The New Zealand Fringe Festival here. 

Photography by Sarah McEvoy 

Ice cream from Duck Island, Cuba Street 

Sasha sits on the tuatara in the cuba street playground. The image is very sunny and colourful.
Sasha stands, smiling on Cuba Street, with the road stretching out behind her. Sasha stands against a ochre wall with a vine growing up it. She has one arm reaching to the sky, and looks fabulous.