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Style at the Maori Art Show

Suzanne Tamaki and her daughter modelling Tamaki's designs.

This weekend, a friend and I went to the Maori Art Market, and we saw some serious style in the crowd. Men were peacocking with tailored coats incorporating Maori fabric, custom-tailored vests, and heirloom jade and bone jewelry. There was a fashion show, and a display by this woman artist shown below.

Suzanne Tamaki and her daughter modelling Tamaki's designs.Artist and designer Suzanne Tamaki and her daughter were head to toe in Tamaki’s designs, including her silk tie belt-wraps and quasi-Victorian jackets and top hats. In the background, “Blankets for sale – WE trade for land, beads, or guns” is embroidered on wool, stabbing at colonial land-grabbing via the needle. The pair are posed in front of Tamaki’s stunning photograph For Maori, For Sure, with its Maori seamstress about to reclaim all the flags – click here for a full view.

Here’s more of Tamaki’s deliciously deconstructed work – blanket labels are incorporated into the outfit on the left.

Tamaki's wearable art.

Also, seen in the crowd, this Pakeha lady had a vivid orange jacket that I loved – she moved among the artworks like a piece of art herself.

Hot jacket, lady!

There were two women wearing the moko who I wanted to photograph –  I think the women’s moko tattoos are attractive and stylish, and their outfits set off their moko like the tattoos were heirloom jewelry – both jewelry and moko tattoos are taonga, treasures. But…I felt shy. There’s been controversy about fashion houses appropriating Maori tattoo imagery. And I note that Maori-generated pages online about ta moko that discuss women’s moko do not include images! So, if you see a lady with a moko in real life, appreciate that you’ve had a glimpse of a taonga.

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