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Maaori Identity Threads Through Life Of Fashion Designer

A large-scale exhibition exploring contemporary fashion through the life and work of Maaori designer Jeanine Clarkin (Ngaati Hako, Ngaati Paaoa, Ngaati Ranginui, Ngaati Raukawa) opens this Saturday at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

Te Aho Tapu Hou: The new sacred thread showcases many of Clarkin’s distinctive garments, representative of her earlier influences, major events, and current fashion collections.

Realising her childhood dream to be a fashion designer, her creativity over the decades has resulted in Clarkin’s international status within the indigenous fashion community. From founding her first street wear label in 1994 to dressing celebrities (such as Keisha Castle-Hughes and Cliff Curtis) for the red carpet, Clarkin’s Maaori identity has been a common thread, establishing her as a fashion activist.

Waikato Museum curator Maree Mills said the exhibition showcases the inspiring story of a shy young woman empowered by embracing her Maaori identity through fashion design.

“This exhibition reminds us how important it is to contribute to community, and what creative drive and conviction can achieve.

“Clarkin’s extended network of artists, performers and collaborators inhabit her garments and help bring to life the inspiring journey of a designer committed to celebrating her Maaori identity.”

Clarkin’s ‘pride infused fashion’ continues to be experienced on the catwalks of fashion week, seen on the racks at exclusive stores, and worn on the street by younger generations.

Te Aho Tapu Hou: The new sacred thread runs until 31 October, daily from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free. The exhibition will be open to the public following a whakatau on Saturday 7 August.

There will be an artist’s floor talk about this exhibition at 1pm Sunday 8 August at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato. Everyone is welcome.

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