The tradition of Tonga: hand-made Feta'aki and Nauran craft

By Commonwealth Fashion Council

Explore the exchange story of designer Bou Fonua from Tonga and artisan Rendina Edwards from Nauru and find out how they created their look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, 2018.

Bou Fonua's look at Australian High Commission, London by Bou FonuaCommonwealth Fashion Council

The Exchange: Tonga x Nauru

For The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018, designer Bou Fonua exchanged with artisan Rendina Edwards to create a look that was inspired by traditions of Tonga. The look was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 2018, and later moved to the Australian High Commission, London, where it was open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.

Designer Bou Fonua by Bou FonuaCommonwealth Fashion Council

Tonga: Designer Bou Fonua

Bou has been designing her elegant signature dresses for some time, winning the approval of the South Pacific Islands, and as far as America and London for the high quality of her fabrics, and the flattering drapes of her creations to enhance the female form. Bou’s designs feature traditionally inspired hand painted prints placed onto rich, regal palettes of cotton and silk. Bou draws inspiration from her Tongan roots and ensures that each piece carries her signature motifs. Bou revamped the traditional Tongan Puletaha, giving it a modern interpretation. Showing at Milan Fashion Week in 2017, Bou’s deeply pigmented eveningwear, embroidered with geometric borders in golden threads, attracted the attention of an international clientele.

Rendina Edwards in her workshopCommonwealth Fashion Council

Nauru: Artisan Rendina Edwards

Rendina Edwards is from Nauru is a tiny island country in Micronesia, northeast of Australia.  

Bou Fonua's artisan Rendina EdwardsCommonwealth Fashion Council

Bou Fonua's look at Australian High Commission, London by Bou FonuaCommonwealth Fashion Council

The story behind the look

Bou selected Feta’aki for her design, a papery material made from the bark of the Mulberry tree, and lined with raw silk.

Bou Fonua's sketch by Bou FounaCommonwealth Fashion Council

Illustration of the look

Bou Fonua's look at Australian High Commission, London by Bou FonuaCommonwealth Fashion Council

Feta'aki Cloth

The Feta’aki represents the cultural wealth of Tonga, dating back many centuries, and used as a sign of respect in gift-giving.

Mulberry Tree Silk

The silk is also made from the mulberry tree and signifies wealth and prosperity.

Traditional Jewellery

The look has been completed with traditionally inspired hand-made jewellery made by Rendina Edwards from Nauru.

Bou Fonua's look at Buckingham PalaceCommonwealth Fashion Council

Final look on display at Buckingham Palace, 19 February 2018

Bou Fonua's look at Australian High Commission, London by Bou FonuaCommonwealth Fashion Council

Final look on display at the Australian High Commission, London, 22 February 2018

Behind the Scenes of The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018Commonwealth Fashion Council

Credits: Story

This content has been specifically curated for the Google Arts & Culture platform on behalf of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition that launched on the 19th of February at Buckingham Palace in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.

The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, with the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.

More information about the images is available by clicking on them.
Read more about the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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