Heritage helps inspire success

29 Jun, 2011
Adrienne Whitewood with her winning designs

Two AUT fashion graduates, both inspired by their heritage, have come up trumps at the 2011 Miromoda Maori Fashion Design Awards.

Winning work

This year AUT graduate Adrienne Whitewood from Rotorua not only won the established designer section but was also named the overall winner.

This will see her under the mentorship of Sydney based Miromoda Co founder, Rex Turnbull and be guided and mentored in fashion business by Jack Yan, publishing editor of international fashion magazine Lucire.

“I’m trying to obviously get my label out there. Now I’m hoping to go to Fashion Week to look for a buyer."

Tara Warren, another graduate, who is living in Brisbane, was the first international entrant to compete in the awards and won the Emerging designer section.
She says enterting the Miromoda Awards was a great step for her and her career.
“I've been struggling to get into the fashion industry and missed being around creative, inspiring people. I was also excited to be working with Maori designers. I saw some really beautiful designs from the competition.”
The success of the experience 

When discussing Whitewood’s pieces, executive officer at Fashion Industry New Zealand Mapihi Opai says, “It’s always a challenge to draw inspiration from a traditional indigenous source and create contemporary garments that appeal to a fashion audience, but Adrienne succeeded in doing that.

“Adrienne Whitewood is a rising talent and name to watch in the future.”

Other aspects of Whitewood’s prize include a ticket to attend Australian Fashion Week, the chance to be part of a show at New Zealand Fashion Week and part of the REAL New Zealand Festival that runs alongside the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“I’m just so excited. I know this is going to be an awesome opportunity.”
For Warren winning her section was just an added bonus.
“When they mentioned my name I froze for a bit. For me the prize was flying over to Wellington to present my stuff to these experienced judges and get some feedback and be around these amazing creative people.”
Warren will also get to attend New Zealand Fashion Week.
About their clothing lines

Whitewood’s three-piece collection was called Te Aho Tapu; The Sacred Thread. She says her inspiration came from looking at Maori history and seeing the value they placed on clothes.

Warren knitted menswear collection was called ‘Childhood memories’ and according to event organisers all five male models commented they would easily wear the knitted pants and comfortable fitting tops with matching cardigans.
“The design concept for my range is mainly inspired by tukutuku panels which can be found in maraes. I love the look and texture of them and wanted to incorporate them into my collection. I was also inspired by the men working on the marae.”
AUT and fashion
Warren also credits a lot of the learning she did at AUT as being very beneficial in helping her in her career so far.

“Studying at AUT has not only given me the skills I need to design, but has also given me the confidence to go out and do something I know I couldn't have done without the knowledge I now have. Knitwear and menswear in particular is something I am now very passionate about. I have so much more to learn but I now know what I want to do in life which is something I wouldn't have been sure about had I not decided to study.”
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