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Fusing culture with fashion, Maori designers shine

Fusing culture with fashion, Maori designers shine


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Auckland-based designers Dmonic Intent and Shona Tawhiao will be among those showing their labels at the annual Te Koanga Fashion Show, as part of the National Waiata Maori Music Awards in Hawke’s Bay next week.

Te Koanga represents the new springs season and new beginnings and will mix Maori music with Maori fashion, featuring some of the guest artists from this year’s music awards.

Tawhiao plans to show a warrior inspired fashion collection, using harakeke or flax as its base, while Dmonic will show a range of garments which they are featuring at New Zealand Fashion Week which starts today.

Tawhiao last year showed at New Zealand Fashion Week as part of the Miromoda showcase, and at the Miromoda Extravaganza in Wellington as part of the Rugby World Cup celebrations.

She has previously won the premier award at the Villa Maria Estate Cult Couture Awards in 2010, a title she previously claimed in 2007.

Her background training in traditional Maori weaving techniques and methods will be a stand out feature at Te Koanga this year.

“I love how harakeke has no limits or boundaries and I think there’s a huge market internationally for all types of Maori Fashion and design,” Tawhiao says.

She has exhibited her style of woven art extensively and produced sets for Maori Television, worked in art and costume departments for films such as the Maori Merchant of Venice, River Queen and television programmes including Hercules and Xena to name a few.

Dmonic Intent directors Samara Wooldridge, Maxine Wooldridge, Kris Leitch and Joe Walker believe it is Maori culture which sets their work apart from others in the industry.

This year’s collections feature the Poutama pattern which is printed on a lot of our fabric and in the past, we’ve designed pieces that reflect our Maori background. It’s just something that happens naturally when we’re designing,” Samara Wooldridge says.

She believes Maori fashion has massive international appeal.

“… because it is unique to New Zealand. Our culture has so much history, a story and techniques that are still being practiced today, even if it’s not happening enough.”

Hawke’s Bay designer Deb Bell and 11, EIT Hawke’s Bay Fashion Apparel Certificate, Year 2 students, will also present collections at Te Koanga Fashion Show.

The models for this year’s show will include the contestants of Miss Aotearoa, an event which will also be held in Hawke’s Bay during September 8 to 16.

  • Te Koanga will be held at the Hawke’s Bay Opera House Assembly Room, on the evening of September 13.

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