Seamstress to the stars

22 October 2022

Jenny Lau

She’s created high-end garments for New Zealand’s top designers and magical costumes for television and film – but now Red Beach retiree Jenny Lau has turned her hand to pooch apparel.

From miniature raincoats and jackets, to hoodies, t-shirts – and even handbags – four-legged fashionistas from Kaitaia to Queenstown are proudly parading her handiwork.

“I’ve been working as a dress maker for over 40 years, but more recently I’ve been sewing outfits for dogs,” says Jenny, “It’s a bit of fun, and it’s also a lot easier than fashionwear!”

Her most outrageous creation? A wedding dress for a Brussels Griffon, complete with a veil and a long train.

“I also made a matching suit for her husband-to-be, a Rottweiler. The pair were married in an elaborate ceremony in Parnell – they even got marriage certificates - and all the guests were accompanied by their dogs.”

While doggie weddings are not the norm, Jenny thinks nothing of whipping up a Hawaiian shirt, leopard print vest or Merino turtleneck sweater for our fashion-forward canines.

“My friend owns dog wear company Mr. Soft Top and I enjoy helping her out on a casual basis. I don’t work too hard though – my partner and I have recently moved into Metlifecare’s Gulf Rise retirement village and we’re just loving having some time to relax and enjoy village life.”

She has certainly earned it. Originally from Malaysia, Jenny studied sewing as a teenager before going onto become a dressmaking tutor, and eventually starting her own business. A move to New Zealand in 1989 saw her land a job with renowned Kiwi designer Marilyn Sainty, and she later went on to work as a sample machinist for the likes of Zambezi, Trelise Cooper and World. Being backstage at Fashion Week and walking the red carpet were all part of a day at the office.

“I’ve also made gowns for Dame Malvina Major, race day dresses for Richard Holden, and numerous costumes for film and television, including costumes for Stephen Spielberg’s TV series Lumen, and New Zealand movie Mahana.”

But her proudest achievement? Traditional Irish folk costumes.

“Many years ago I made all the Irish dance costumes for a school in New Lynn. The kids travelled all the way to Ireland for a dance competition and ended up winning best dressed! I thought that was a pretty special achievement.”

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