Designer Karen Walker from New Zealand exchanged with artisans from Kūki ‘Airani Creative Māmās from Cook Islands to create a bespoke look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange - an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.
Karen Walker worked with a community of tivaivai craftswomen from the Cook Islands, now resident in New Zealand. Her dress is made from dusty pink Italian wool flannel and is covered in claret-coloured tivaivai embroidered flowers. The flowers are iconic flora of the Māmās’ island home and include gardenia, jasmine, orchid, fruit salad plant, hibiscus, fringed hibiscus, red ginger, frangipani and the Cook Islands national flower, Tiare Māori. Added to these are the beloved Karen Walker daisies. The 10 plant varieties are brought to life with 12 different traditional stitch styles.
The look was displayed at Buckingham Palace and the Australian High Commission, London. Both exhibitions were curated by VOGUE's Editor-at-Large, Hamish Bowles.
The project was launched by Commonwealth Secretary General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age and supported by Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.