Designer Tessa Bailey-Lont of Lontessa (right) with a model in her design at Paris Fashion Week this month. Image supplied.
Indigenous Māori fashion competition MIROMODA celebrates 10 years at NZFW later this year and the celebrations are starting early with the news that alumni Tessa Bailey-Lont of Lontessa has shown on the runway at the Oxford Fashion Studio Paris this month.
Over the past decade some of New Zealand’s leading designers have passed through the MIROMODA competition that was created by the Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board (IMFAB) in 2008 and features designers of Māori descent. The competition debuted at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2009 and this is the first time an alumni of MIROMODA has shown as part of Paris Fashion Week. Designer Tessa Bailey-Lont was given a formal invitation to show her ‘Te Wao nui a Tané’ capsule range in Paris as a direct result of her involvement in the 2018 MIROMODA Showcase at NZ Fashion Week as a guest designer.
Her collection was inspired by the unique biodiversity of New Zealand and expressed a sensual South Pacific escape. The designer utilised hand-dyed organic silks and delicately detailed beadwork and embroidery to create beautiful silhouettes. Tessa is influenced by New Zealand’s ethnic values, the iconography of the region’s history, femininity and sustainability when creating her designs. Keeping production small and local is important to the designer, as is creating and utilising biologically-friendly fabrics. The result is a clever fusion of innovation with traditional crafts making for wonderfully expressive clothing.
“For Tessa’s talents to receive such international recognition is a fantastic acknowledgement of MIROMODA’s principles,” says MIROMODA founder Ata Te Kanawa. “The past ten years we have worked to raise the visibility of indigenous designers by providing a platform to showcase their high standards of quality, creativity and authenticity.”
New Zealand Fashion Week are also excited about Tessa Bailey-Lont’s success overseas. “The competition has offered an opportunity for over 150 Māori and guest designers of indigenous descent to get exceptional exposure,” says head judge and New Zealand Fashion Week founder, Dame Pieter Stewart. “It is very pleasing that our intention to jointly set up a platform for Māori designers 10 years ago has come successfully established a number of fantastic designers worthy of a place on catwalks here and around the world. I am delighted it has provided a start for designers, labels and businesses within the global fashion industry.”
Videos of Tessa describing her design ethos against Paris backdrops are currently featuring on MIROMODA’s social media platforms, announcing the multinational theme for this year’s competition. The organisation will also be sharing clips featuring those based overseas who have had a connection to MIROMODA in the early stages of their design or modelling careers.
This year’s MIROMODA competition begins in June, with eight winners and placeholders taking to the runway as part of the 10th MIROMODA Showcase at New Zealand Fashion Week in late August alongside an accomplished Korean guest designer.