Kiri Nathan (centre) with models in her designs on the New Zealand Fashion Week 2018 runway. Image by Lyle Adams.
Kiri Nathan’s first solo outing at NZFW was always going to one to watch. And the buzz before the show even started was palpable. As a designer who works weaving into her collections, and closely with her Husband, pounamu carver Jason Nathan, it was always going to a multi dimensional show. And it quite simply didn’t disappoint.
The show opened with a video of Kiri talking about her process and how deeply connected she is to the land, to her People, and to New Zealand. She considers her work High End, with a Maori aesthetic – and that makes her an unusual label in the New Zealand fashion landscape. She sees that the three strands of their business, the carving, the weaving AND the clothing are ALL their strengths and they need to keep them together. In the past some stockists of her brand have wanted to take the clothes but not the weaving, the Pounamu but not the clothing. Keeping them together binds the collection and makes it stronger. Cultural integrity, cultural intelligence is deeply important so she shares all she knows, all she has learnt with fellow Maori artists. She understands that they are stronger together than apart. The analogy of weaving, weaving the strands together, be it Family, business or culture is a strong one with this label, this Woman and her Family, her Whanau.
The video piece closed with a note of dedication to the late Grant Fell, of black magazine, who with his wife Rachel Churchwood were passionate champions of the Nathan’s and their company. It was a moment that moved many of us who knew him to tears.
The show itself started with all the models coming out en masse to a Katanga (traditional Maori welcome) by metal band Alien Nation. It quite literally shook the room and made the hairs on everyone’s necks stand up. There was something so powerful about the women striding forward together after all the talk of family, of Whanau. Beautiful Pounamu coloured dresses with white feather cloaks. The dresses where detailed with a green and black sequin that looked like Pounamu in water. This was followed by liquid satin dresses beautifully finished with a belted detail. Draped wooden coats shot with silver and felted wooden cloaks were fastened at the shoulder with buckles.
All the while the beautiful Pounamu pieces made by Jason Nathan where being worn through the entire collection.
Diaphanous floor length sequin covered skirts and dresses – with fringing detail where complete showstoppers and my pick of the collection. They were followed by the final pieces which was the most elaborate woven cloak. The three Heru (headpiece) made of Pounamu just added to the drama of the outfit.
This show was most certainly the most emotional of all the shows this week, and was full of joy and strength – a true highlight of any NZFW ever. Everyone left with a full heart and a smile on their face.
Soundtrack: Rousing heavy metal by local band Alien Nation
Beauty Notes: Makeup for Kiri Nathan was perfected by Bailey Grant from Kristen Stewart School Of Makeup with a bold, dark and smoky eye featuring metallic blue and black eyeshadow, darkened eyebrows and a nude lip. The hair team was lead by Sara Allsop from Dharma and was a modern take on the dreadlock, complimenting the makeup with a super edgy feel. (Beauty Notes by Nina Franklin).
Images by Lyle Adams.