Dame Trelise Cooper
From her earliest memories, Trelise took a strong and active interest in what she wore. With no home sewing background, she started out in fashion in the 1980s without formal training, but with a knack for picking feminine garments that sold well. In 1975, with the support of her husband - textile wholesaler Jack Cooper - she opened her own boutique, Limited Editions by Trelise Cooper, on High Street in Auckland.
In 1989 in the wake of the stock market crash, Trelise closed Limited Editions and focused on being a full-time mother to her son, Jasper. She later worked at Classic Fashions as a designer before Wellington retailer Penny Barnett encouraged her to start a label under her own name. This decision set Trelise on a path that has seen her become a household name in New Zealand, and her flagship boutique was opened the next year in Parnell.
Alongside her work in fashion, Trelise is involved with a number of charities. She is a patron of the Breast Cancer Research Trust and the Auckland Returned Services Association. She has built houses for Habitat for Humanity locally and internationally and supports the environment by designing and encouraging the use of reusable eco shopping bags which are for sale in New Zealand supermarkets.
Trelise was named a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to fashion and the community in 2004 and a decade later was named a Dame Companion in the same order.