Karen Walker's Commonwealth Fashion
Karen Walker's Commonwealth Fashion Exchange piece has been revealed
Karen Walker will be representing New Zealand, alongside Australian label KitX , in a new initiative launched by founder and creative director of Eco-Age, Livia Firth (Colin Firth's other half). The initiative brings together the 53 British Commonwealth countries in collaborative partnerships between designers and local artisans to not only celebrate local heritage and craftsmanship, but also pieces that are environmentally conscious.
Karen Walker today reveals the piece she will be presenting at Buckingham Palace at the end of Fashion Week as designers from the British Commonwealth come together to champion the power of artisans and to encourage trade networks and sustainability. In creating this piece, Walker partnered with craftswomen from the Cook Islands, the Kūki ‘Airani Creative Māmās based in Māngere in Auckland. The result? A formal, strapless gown that combines her chic-meets-eccentric handwriting with traditional Cook Islands tivaivai (handmade culturally significant bed coverings).
"There’s such a freshness to the collaboration and what grew throughout the project was an enormous sense of awe, working with this team of artisans on a completely handcrafted piece, using skills that have been lovingly passed from generation to generation. For me, it was even more about sharing in the history, culture and meaning of tivaivai than it was about creating a dress. It’s been a very special project for us," says Karen of the partnership.
73-year-old Māmā Tukua Turia reflects on the design describing, "every design tells a story. And as I’m working I feel like I am in a forest of all the beautiful flowers and leaf shapes that are so symbolic of my home." Tukua noted the sense of empowerment the process afforded her and her team who came together putting over 1000 hours of work and over nine kilometres of thread into the piece.
The one-off, not-for-sale-dress, will be moved to a public exhibition at Australia House open to the public, following it's celebration at Buckingham Palace on February 19.
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