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.
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.
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.
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.