Culturally inspired woven designs to feature on catwalk

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Māori culture, history and sustainability intertwine this month as two of Aotearoa’s renowned Māori designers present their latest collections during New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) in Auckland.

With a combined 50 years in the arts and design industries, Shona Tawhiao and Jeanine Clarkin are pioneers in handwoven couture and respected leaders in sustainable fashion. 

Their unique work will be on display during The Aho Runway Show on Thursday 29 August. From 2.45pm, the public will get a chance to see the fashion show as models descend the stairs of the Ellen Melville Centre then make their way out onto Freyberg Place. 

Shona’s woven collection Te Rito Royal is inspired by culture and history – with a military feel. 

“This year I’m introducing ready to wear pieces based on culture and art,” she says.  

“The audience can expect to be wowed with woven show stoppers on fierce Māori models, and they will want to own everything from the ready to wear collection.” 

Trained by weaving expert Te Kahu Toi Te Kanawa, Shona’s high end woven fashion has been seen on catwalks all over the world. 

“New Zealand Fashion Week gives me an opportunity to show my work at home.” 

Jeanine’s collection Natural Beauty celebrates the diversity of Mother Earth Papatūānuku on a global scale. 

Influenced by recent trips to Spain, Jeanine blends aspects of the vast countryside, with her love of Maori culture and Korowai inspired capes. 

“Golden shades of Segovia in the Spanish countryside paired with the vibrancy reflected in the capes of a matador and flamboyant traditional dance costumes make their way into this ready-to-wear collection,” she says. 

Jeanine’s garments are made of natural fabrics of cotton, silk and recycled wool blankets. 

Like Shona, Janine is no stranger to the international fashion circuit and produces bespoke pieces produced in a slow-fashion ethical manner. 

She has recently returned from Paris where she presented a 25-year retrospective collection of images and a talk on sustainability and identity through culture; at Musée Quai Branly – as part of the Oceania Exhibition. 

The Aho Runway Show is part of Auckland Council’s partnership with New Zealand Fashion Week which aims to promote and support the shared goal of enlivening the city centre. 

Shona says the council’s support and sponsorship of the event helps to lift their profile locally. 

 “Although we are really well known in the Māori and international indigenous fashion and art scene, we are still relatively unknown on the local mainstream fashion scene; so, this show is a great opportunity for our labels to gain more exposure and to be in front of a commercial audience.” 

For tickets and to find out more about what’s on offer across New Zealand Fashion Week and Fashion Weekend visit


Tony Cutting

Hi, I am Tony Cutting of Tony Cutting Digital.

I love writing, taking photos and promoting People and Kiwi businesses.

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