Homegrown style

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21 September 2011

The work of some of New Zealand’s best Maori fashion designers will wow audiences at the Miromoda Fashion Extravaganza at Wellington’s TSB Arena on September 30.

International interest in the event, which falls on the eve of the France/Tonga Rugby World Cup game, is high, but organiser and Miromoda co-founder Ata Te Kanawa says the show is for everyone.

Te Kanawa and co-founder Rex Turnbull established the Miromoda Fashion Awards in 2009, but this is the first time Miromoda has held a public event showcasing the designs of some of the best Maori fashion designers in New Zealand.

Guest designers include Wellington designer Hermione Flynn and former Miromoda Supreme Award winners Blaire Archibald and Wiremu Barriball. New Plymouth label Whiri, designed by Keri Whanoa and Hemi Sunderen, will also present its 2012 winter collection, featuring linear prints inspired by the base of a kakahu (traditional Maori cloak). Sunderen, an artist and carver by trade, designs the prints, and Whanoa designs the garments. Their contemporary designs impressed local and international fashion editors at New Zealand Fashion Week earlier this month.

“There’s a subtlety about the garments so that New Zealanders as a whole can access it, but at the same time the symbol is strong enough to display that Maori connection,” Sunderen says.

More than 10 designers, some of whom showed at New Zealand Fashion Week as part of the Miromoda showcase, will present their collections on the catwalk.

Tara Warren’s menswear collection Childhood Memories incorporates colours and shapes found in tukutuku patterns on the panels of the marae.

Shona Tawhiao of Tawhio utilises traditional Maori weaving methods to produce hand woven, moulded and lacquered flax corsets.

Dmonic Intent’s collection, the work of Maxine Woolridge, Kris Leitch and Samara Wooldridge, features sculptural knits and piu piu-like dresses made from zips. They’re also designing new garments for the Miromoda Extravaganza.

Emerging designer Aroha Tapsell will brighten up the runway with her vibrant knits; and Adrienne Whitewood has combined Maori aesthetics with technology and craftsmanship in her collection Te Aho Tapu – The Sacred Thread.

Urban Maori T-shirts designed by Kereama Taepa mix real life with digital life for his “digimaori” collection of T-shirts by incorporating the concept of augmented reality into his range.

Each of his T-shirt designs features print markers which serve as a platform to view 3-D images when the wearer sits in front of their computer using FLARToolKit software.

The runway show is just one part of the Fashion Extravaganza that will also incorporate a one-off exhibition of traditional kakahu (highly prized ceremonial cloaks) from the Hetet-Te Kanawa collection held at the Waikato Museum.

A designated trade area will feature items from the catwalk alongside high-end fashion-related Maori products for sale. These include laser-engraved accessories by Wiremu Barriball, who has opened his own store, Revolution Aotearoa, in Porirua’s North City Plaza. Barriball has extended his range of designs to include a new rugby boot.

Miromoda Fashion Extravaganza project co-ordinator Terina Cowan says a high-profile rugby player will model in the show alongside Wellington Bachelor of the Year Daley Tapa and runnerup Alistair Boyd.

“We want people to experience the hype and glam of a fashion event, with red carpet, photographers, beautiful people in beautiful clothes and the effervescence of indigenous fashion in a contemporary context,” Cowan says.

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