The new creative initiative between 53 countries was established to showcase artisan fashion and put a focus on sustainability in the industry. Mama Tukua was invited alongside New Zealand fashion icon Karen Walker.
Mama Tukua is a lead artisan for the Kuki ‘Airani Creative Mamas based in Mangere, and Walker presented a formal tivaivai gown at the event.
“It’s an empowering experience,” says Turia, who’s originally from Aitutaki and now lives in south Auckland.
She and the team of mamas aged 60 to 91 split their time between Mangere and Walker’s design room in Grey Lynn to make the dusty-pink wool-flannel dress.
Walker and Mama Tukua chose iconic flora of the Cook Islands for their dress, which has 10 floral designs, 12 styles of stitching, 9 kilometres of thread, and took 1000 hours to stitch.
Mama Tukua learned the art of tivaivai from her grandmother, and is one of only a few recognised experts in tivaivai in New Zealand.
She aims to keep the craft alive and pass on the skills and methods to the next generation.
According to a spokesperson for Walker, Middleton was very impressed and noted the beautiful embroidery on the dress, which features a complex bow, pleated bodice and a dramatic floor-length skirt crafted from Italian wool in a soft shade of pink.
- Stuff/NZ Herald