September 25, 2010

More Maori | Hand-woven Tawhiao collection features at NZFW

(Te Whiri is Shona Tawhiao’s debut range of military-inspired apparel)

Hand-woven Tawhiao collection features at NZFW
Fri, 17 Sep 2010
By staff

The world’s first hand woven haute couture collection will feature at New Zealand Fashion Week.

Te Whiri is Shona Tawhiao’s debut range of military-inspired apparel, under her eponymous label Tawhiao.

"Samurai, Roman, the Masai, and Maori of course. It's totally military warrior woman meets marching girl."

Tawhiao has introduced the plant to haute couture by literally weaving a groundbreaking mix of high fashion that can be nothing but Maori.

Of Ngaiterangi descent from the Bay of Plenty, Tawhiao was among an initial flock of Unitec graduates who helped revitalize the indigenous art form and then turn it into a contemporary practice. Like a true soldier, there are no short cuts to manifesting Tawhiao's concepts.

Harakeke is a Lilly specimen commonly referred to as native flax because of its resourceful fibres.

Before each individual blade of flax fibre is weaved by Tawhiao's hand with military precision, the flax must be grown, harvested and individually prepared.

Tawhiao's decision to merge harakeke with haute couture has fuelled her passion to construct visionary designs that look beyond these shores.

"Everything Japanese is inspirational to me. How an indigenous culture creates a subculture, I think is really cool. Maori don't have that yet."

Tawhiao is one of seven designers to show at NZFW 2010 thanks this year's Miromoda Fashion Design Awards.

Although Te Whiri is Tawhiao's first-ever haute couture collection to be exhibited at an international trade fair, the designer already has an accomplished portfolio of woven work that adorns art galleries, film and television, family homes, schools, meeting houses and hotel lobbies.

She is also a past winner of the Villa Maria Cult-Couture Award and has a garment in the World of Wearable Arts museum.

Tawhiao brings a cultural component to Fashion Week that she says New Zealand has struggled to muster, making the name of her premiere collection – Te Whiri – most fitting.

"Te Whiri is Maori for plait. It's the joining of everything really. I feel very lucky. This is a culmination of all my work that I love so it's pretty exciting."