We in New Zealand are famous for many things – stunning scenery, friendly people and desserts made out of egg whites.
But fashion designers around the world have embraced a call from the prime minister to combine two of our most famous exports – sheep and rugby – for this year’s Westfield Style Pasifika.
The International Designer Collection is a result of John Key’s invitation to designers from the nations participating in the 2011 Rugby World Cup to produce a rugby-inspired garment using New Zealand merino wool.
Some of the world’s biggest designers rose to the challenge, including Elizabeth Emanuel, the designer responsible for Princess Diana’s famous “meringue” wedding dress.
Rather than basing her creation on her native England, Elizabeth’s inspiration came from our own All Blacks.
The final touches are still being added to her New Zealand-inspired garment at her London studio, with the finished product to be unveiled at Style Pasifika in Auckland next week.
“I hope England win, but I absolutely adore the All Blacks, I think they’re fabulous,” says Elizabeth. “And I so love the haka, it’s absolutely amazing.
I love the black strip they wear, so my dress is black.”
Elizabeth promises the dress will be an homage to Kiwi culture, including silver fern motifs and a piupiu-inspired skirt.
The other designers’ garments are each inspired by their home nation, as well as the ethics and values of rugby.
The Weekly was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of five of the designs featured at Style Pasifika, which is part of the Real New Zealand Festival.
Simon Rademan says his design was inspired by South Africa’s national flower, the King Protea.”I looked to one of nature’s most intricate floral designs,” Simon says of the inspiration for his intricate garment. The stunning gown is made from New Zealand merino, with over 100 leaves crafted from satin and seshwe, a traditional African fabric. “I was honoured to become part of the elite of global design,” says Simon.
Hong Kong-born and Dublin-based designer John Rocha‘s gorgeous creation is sure to appeal to New Zealand women’s love of the little black dress. The outfit is made entirely from New Zealand merino, except the Celtic green headdress. In John’s typical style, the dress experiments with texture and length.
Georgian designer Tamuna Ingorokva pays tribute to his country’s aristocratic past and sporting future in this gothic garment. Its strong structure and striking features reference rugby, with feminine touches in the intricate beading and draping style.
There’s no mistaking this outfit. Distinctly Samoan, high-end label Mena Loheni has blended the merino of the dress with Samoan intricacies such as feathers to create a beautiful bi-cultural garment. Even though Samoa didn’t make this year’s quarter-finals, Mena say the team “played with flair, dedication and passion” – attributes they hope this outfit reflects.
Yohji Yamamoto‘s creation is designed to reflect the mood of modern Japan. He says the ensemble, consisting
of a dress and coat, shows a strong sense of “urban warrior”, as well as the bold, rebellious energy found in the youth of today, which is also undeniably a powerful element of rugby.