Antonia Prebble’s Style Closet

For the past six years, Antonia Prebble inhabited the character of Loretta West, a bolshy, morally corrupt teenager turned bombshell (and brothel owner), in New Zealand’s best-loved series “Outrageous Fortune.” Now that the show’s finished, the Wellingtonian’s treading the boards in Christchurch, playing Berliner Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.”

The two characters couldn’t be more different -- much like the pieces in Prebble’s wardrobe. Her sartorial choices run the gamut, from trackies and T-shirts to glamour-puss frocks.

On days off, she’s likely to be dressed down. “I’ve been acting professionally since I was 12, and I’m so used to getting up and wearing a costume all day, it’s habit to not have to worry about what I’m putting on,” explains the 26-year-old. “I like just wearing what’s comfortable. You spend so much time being primped and prodded that it’s nice to be casual and fuss-free.”

But she relishes a chance to dress up too. “I’m hardly ever middle-of-the-road. When I focus on what I’m wearing, I like things that are quite put together. I like a look that’s from a certain era: I love the ’20s; I’m a huge fan of the ’80s. I’m drawn to beautiful garments that are more formal: flapper dresses and jumpsuits. I like to wear these with bright lipstick.”

Do you remember the first costume you ever wore?

It was for a play when I was 7 or 8 years old, a rep theatre production called “The Magical Kingdom of Thingamajig.” I was a thingamajig and I wore a tunic with big spots on it.

Does a costume help you get into a role?

Yes, the costume definitely helps. Costume and makeup is so significant. What we wear says so much about who we are and how we move. I just adore the dresses I get to wear as Sally Bowles. The clothes she wears are beautiful.

Loretta West, your character in “Outrageous Fortune,” had a very specific ’40s look. Did that come from you?
No. We are such different characters. I’ve got cardigans and pencil skirts, but I wouldn’t wear them as she does. I put more of a personal stamp on my outfits, and my taste is more varied. Loretta follows the rules of the ’40s in the shapes that she wears. But, the wardrobe designer and I did collaborate on her look. Loretta was such a fan of her grandmother that we thought she’d emulate her rather than women in fashion magazines.

Do you like to shop?

I’m not great at buying basics. I’ve got lots of pieces I have had for years in my wardrobe. I like so many New Zealand designers: Kate Sylvester, Sera Lilly. I adore Cybele -- I just love the beautiful fabrics, and the designs are timeless. And Miss Crabb I really like.

Any upcoming trends you can’t wait to wear?

I’m not a huge follower of trends. I always have a specific idea of what I like and what I don’t like, which changes over time, but I never actively seek to wear what is trendy. For the last six months, I’ve been getting into high-waist, wide-leg pants. They’re slouchy, but sophisticated at the same time. However, at the moment I feel totally out of touch with any trends whatsoever. I’ve been absorbed in 1930s Berlin for the past three months, so I have no idea what is going on in the present day!

What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?

As funny as it might sound, my favourite item is a dress that I’ve never even worn. It belonged to my great-grandmother, so it is over 100 years old. We found it a few years ago when we were cleaning out my grandmother’s house. Amazingly, it fits me perfectly and is still in really good condition. It’s a long-sleeved, dark gray dress with doming around the wrists, a high collar and two silk panels down the front that open up like butterfly wings. They shimmer and move as you walk. The craftsmanship is just exquisite.

What’s in your handbag when it comes to beauty products?

Sun cream! It’s the only product you can guarantee I’ll have on at all times. I am really pale and really careful about wearing it. And I love red lipstick. I think it is so elegant and really elevates an outfit.