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Toitu Nga Wahine — a bicultural showcase of fashion and tikanga Ngai Tahu is being held as part of this year’s iD Fashion Week. Brittany Pooley takes a look at what is in store and its significance to New Zealand Fashion.
Next week iD Fashion Week kicks off with a fusion of fashion and traditional Maori performance.
Toitu Otago Settlers Museum hosts Ngai Tahu/Kai Tahu fashion designers Amber Bridgman, of Kahuwai, Fiona Clements, of Senorita AweSUMO, and Darlene Gore.
Toitu te awa Toitu te whenua Toitu Nga Wahine is an associated event of iD Fashion Week.
This year, instead of the iD railway station show, iD will focus on the iD International Emerging Designer Show.
With this new format, iD's runway shows, exhibitions, talks, fashionable installations, films and other associated events will be of great importance.
Toitu te awa Toitu te whenua Toitu Nga Wahine will be held for the first time this iD Fashion Week, giving visibility and voice to indigenous identities in our local community.
The fashion show will be teamed with performance of traditional Maori music and kapa haka, creating a unique cultural experience for its audience.
iD Fashion Week committee member Kris Nicolau speaks highly of the coming event, and its designers.
"Three words come to mind with these designers: inspirational, diverse, inclusive.
"The fact that all three are Ngai Tahu is a great testament to the tribe.
"We are delighted to be opening iD Fashion Week 2018 with our indigenous artists.''
Toitu te awa Toitu te whenua Toitu Nga Wahine mirrors that of the Miraomoda showcase, an annual show held by the Indigenous Maori Fashion Apparel Board (IMFAB) in association with New Zealand Fashion Week.
Shows like these are of great importance to the diversity of such events, and have the potential to elevate Maori fashion design locally and internationally
All three designers contribute a unique narrative to the showcase.
Indigenous New Zealand designer Fiona Clements will showcase at Toitu as Senorita AweSUMO.
The local fashion activist hails from Waitati, and is of Scottish and Maori (Kai Tahu) descent.
Clements is a zero-waste fashion designer and textile practitioner whose environmentally conscious values are reflected in her designs.
Her collection, #peakplastique, to be presented at next week's iD Fashion event critiques the throw-away culture of the fashion industry. Through her environmentally-driven approach to design, Clements offers an alternative narrative to the wasteful excesses of the fashion industry.
This welcomed collection story will closely follow Fashion Revolution Week, a global initiative that Clements drives for Dunedin that aims to challenge the mistreatment of workers and the environment.
Another local Dunedin fashion designer and multiskilled artist showing is Amber Bridgman, the creative director of fashion label Kahuwai.
Bridgman presented her work at the Global Indigenous Runway for the Melbourne Fashion Festival last year and draws inspiration from her cultural heritage linking to Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha and Rabuwai.
Bridgman's collection, Te Ao Marama, features traditional garments fashioned into contemporary design using feathers, hand-printed silks and hand-woven natural fibres, with accessories drafted from vintage fabrics. This presentation is a testament to her wide-ranging skill set.
Her piece "Hine Te Wai'' will be shown at Toitu Museum from tomorrow and is a preview of what is to come.
Ngai Tahu designer Darlene Gore will also showcase her latest work at the event.
Inspired by classic design and high-end natural fabrics, and driven by a love for fine tailoring, Dunedin-born Gore is a strong presence in our local fashion industry.
Contributions to Maori fashion have been seen previously in 2015 when Gore showed at New Zealand Fashion Week's Miramoda showcase. Hers is an endeavour that gives voice and visibility to Maori through fashion.
iD chairwoman and creative director Prof Margo Barton is looking forward to the event.
"Three very different and very important fashion voices to be highlighted'' says Barton.
She speaks highly of the designers, two of whom are graduates from Otago Polytechnic where she is professor of fashion, specialising in fashion design, fashion communication and millinery.
"From the slick tailoring of Darlene Gore, to the stunning creative craftwork of Amber Bridgman, and passionate fashion activist Senorita AweSUMO. They will all delight and challenge.''
Toitu te awa Toitu te whenua Toitu Nga Wahine is a significant and important contribution to iD Fashion Week, and the wider fashion community.