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Te Aho Tapu Hou exhibition celebrates Maori fashion designer

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A stylish exhibition exploring contemporary fashion through the life and work of Māori designer and fashion activist Jeanine Clarkin opens on Saturday 18 June at Taupō Museum.

Toured by Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, Te Aho Tapu Hou: The new sacred thread showcases distinctive garments created by Clarkin (Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Raukawa) over the last three decades. This mid-career retrospective is representative of her early influences, significant milestones, and enduring passion for sustainable fashion.

"We are honoured that Jeanine herself asked that this exhibition is shown in her hometown of Taupō, so that she may share with the community that nurtured her love of fashion, and what better time to do that than Matariki," says Taupō Museum curator Piata Winitana-Murray.

From founding her first streetwear label in 1994 to dressing celebrities such as Keisha Castle-Hughes and Cliff Curtis for the red carpet, Clarkin’s Māori identity has been a common thread. Realising her childhood dream to be a designer, Clarkin’s creativity over the decades has resulted in her international status within the indigenous fashion community.

Waikato Museum curator Maree Mills (Ngāti Tūwharetoa), who developed the exhibition, says Te Aho Tapu Hou: The new sacred thread tells the inspiring story of a shy young woman empowered by embracing her heritage.

"This exhibition reminds us how important it is to contribute to community, and what creative drive and conviction can achieve.

"Clarkin’s extended network of artists, performers and collaborators inhabit her garments and help bring to life the inspiring journey of a designer committed to celebrating her Māori identity."

The mana-infused fashion of Jeanine Clarkin continues to be seen on the racks at exclusive stores, worn on the street by younger generations, and experienced on the catwalks of Fashion Week events around the world.

Te Aho Tapu Hou: The new sacred thread runs from 18 June until 14 August, daily from 10am till 4.30pm. Entry is free for locals and tamariki, $5 for adults, and $3 for seniors and students. Visit the Taupō Museum Facebook page or for more information.

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