For Meg Thompson, clothes are an expressive celebration of femininity

Fashion designer Meg Thompson is all about playfulness and creativity, says Karlya Smith.


Fashion designer Meg Thompson is all about playfulness and creativity, says Karlya Smith.

Meg Thompson, top left, is one half of Cuda, a colorful new womenswear brand designed and made in Auckland.

Her longtime collaborator is friend and sister-by-choice Mana Harknett, right, whom she met in high school. They launched Cuda Sisters in 2011 and also ran a store in the institution St Kevin’s Arcade on Karangahape Rd, with Thompson’s real sister, artist Tanja Jade – also known as Misery.

After a break and a stint in Melbourne in the wardrobe department of film and TV shows, Thompson returned to New Zealand in 2021. Reunited with Harknett, they relaunched as Cuda, with the first collection at part of the brand called Lovesick..

It reflects the couple’s torment as Covid separated them – as they put it, “in despair, prevented from getting started, creating and working together. We are so excited that our time has finally come.”

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This excitement is expressed in a line loaded with eye-catching dresses and coats, crafted in florals, satins and silks, with a dash of Lurex and sequins. This, they say, is a celebration of women and “an expressive platform that women can use in their daily lives.”

Five things I own and love

Cuda Onyx Leotard

Mana and I are obsessed with leotards, we each have an extensive section of leotards in our closets. We’ll pair them with dramatic jeans or skirts, under sheer dresses for extra shine, or just on their own!

This stunning leotard from our latest collection is perfect for any occasion, I love it.

Thompson Family Recipes

I love my cookbook so much, just like I love my amazing boyfriend who made it for me.

Cooking is an integral part of my family life. This is how we relax and celebrate together. Being in my kitchen, music on, glass of wine in hand is my happy place and having this amazing book to record those memories and recipes is so special.

Meg Thompson's most prized possessions.


Meg Thompson’s most prized possessions.

Cuff Anchovies Lucy Folk

You’ll never see me without it. It was given to me by my beautiful best friend in Melbourne who has the same in silver.

It’s a daily reminder of our friendship and a way to know that we are with each other wherever we are in the world.

Senso Talulah Boots

I fell in love with these in 2014 when I first arrived in Melbourne. I was devastated that they sold out of my size.

To my delight, just before I left to move at the end of 2021, Senso reissued this style! The perfect souvenir to bring back to New Zealand. I can’t wait to wear them this winter.

Cuda dress

As you can see, Mana and I never shy away from using color. When designing, we always start with a simple color palette that evolves into a full color rainbow each time.

This beautiful dress is one of my favorites from our Cuda Lovesick collection. Influenced by my Chinese heritage, I really feel like myself when I wear this piece of colorful magic.

Three things I wish I had

Destiny Husk Dress, $510

Husk is my favorite Melbourne brand, I was so happy to find out they now have two stores in Auckland.

I can’t wait for this amazing dress from their latest collection to arrive. Due to arrive end of April, this will be my happy birthday present to myself!

Anoushka Van Rijn Starburst Earrings, $189

Love Love Love. Seashells and stars, two of my favorite things.

I was so excited to discover Anoushka’s amazing jewelry collection. I remember her from our college days at AUT many moons ago, and love seeing the amazing things she does these days.

Celestial Cleo Peppiatt jumpsuit, $5500

Reach for the stars and dream big to own it. So wow.

Exquisite hand embellished zodiac imagery in rich purples and blacks with gold and silver highlights. One day…

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