MiNDFOOD STYLE caught up with Rotorua fashion designer Adrienne Whitewood ahead of her first solo collection at New Zealand Fashion Week.
Your designs offer a contemporary take on Maori artwork, in particular carving and weaving. What inspired you to infuse these styles into your designs?
I did a certificate in Whakairo (carving) at Toi Ohomai a few years ago, so that really inspired my designs. There is so much inspiration to come from Maori design across the many art forms and I’m so pleased to be able to incorporate these into the Tā collection through the various prints I’ve used.
You state that your approach to fashion is holistic. Why is this important to you and how do you achieve this?
My ethos is all about creating an emotional connection to indigenous design. I’m always looking for ways to draw my audience in, and the patterns I use do this – they all have symbolic references and are about giving purpose to the wearer, for example the niho print represents leadership.
How has your Rotorua location effected your design process? Are there benefits or disadvantages to working in the city?
Rotorua is a cultural hub for Maori design, so the creative influences are many! I’m very lucky to be part of a supportive community and to be based in a fantastic location. Another perk is that I have great brand awareness and loyal customers.
This is your fourth year at NZFW, but your first solo show. What are you going to do differently to mark this significant step?
For my 2017 solo show I am launching a menswear line as well as significantly expanding my womenswear collection.
Why did you decide to create a menswear line and how did the design process differ to your womenswear collections?
A lot of my customers’ husbands and partners would come in and say, “you need to do a menswear line,” so I just acted on the demand!
You’ve collaborated with Pure Source to create packaging for their Rotorua Thermal Mud products. What were your reasons for doing this?
I was thrilled to partner with Pure Source – with their Rotorua roots they’re a brand that closely aligns with mine! Plus there’s a healing element to what they do, just as I aim to have in my collection. It’s fantastic that we can further the awareness of both brands in such a creative, meaningful way.
Do you have a personal favourite piece from your work so far? Why is this particular piece special to you?
The praying hands karakia print I did has got to be one of my favourites. Prayer is so important to me and this just puts a smile on my face when I see it!
What’s on the agenda after NZFW?
I’ll be heading straight overseas to source fabric for the orders, so it’s straight back into work for me!