Designer Misty Ratima recently won the supreme prize at the indigenous Maori design competition Miromoda.
She tells Mark Story about her 'mad self belief'.
What do you think got you across the line in winning Miromoda?
Well, according to the Miromoda judging panel it was the fine construction and professional finish of the garments. They also appreciated the interesting design aspects and commercial viability of the collection. For construction and finish I have to give all praise to Christina Rhodes, my fashion tutor at EIT. She spent hours with me, bringing my garments up to industry perfection. Aside from that, having mad self belief meant I was prepared to do whatever it took to gain that position.
Where does Maori-influenced design sit on a global stage currently?
You know it's funny, indigeneity has always been a point of interest when it comes to runway fashion. Mainstream designers have long referenced cultural aspects of indigenous people to embellish their otherwise Eurocentric collections, as a form of exoticism. Aotearoa has some great Māori designers who have taken back the ownership of that cultural representation in fashion so as to communicate from an authentic Māori standpoint, however they see fit to deliver it. They are gracing international runways with Māori design and it's my dream to follow suit and show overseas. On that note, Creative NZ - why is there no fashion fund?
Who's your biggest influence?
Personally and creatively, my ancestors and my loved ones.
Is design a fulltime career option for you?
Definitely, among other things. I also teach te reo Māori at EIT, which is another passion of mine. The thing people need to understand about me is that my drive and creative practice is derived from my Māori culture. Everything I do is influenced by that conceptually, practically, delivery, you name it. So fashion design is another way for me to communicate with my people, and the world, about my culture and language. The teachings of my ancestors are timeless, and my intention through this contemporary means is to draw conceptually from traditional stories, beliefs and practices to serve as a learning tool, or a way of sharing, firstly with Māori, but also everyone else.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time?
I expect to be fully established in the industry, known internationally, have travelled worldwide and hopefully still sane. But ultimately the intention is to create a business model that sustains my family and following generations. It's also important that I'm able to use that platform to contribute and support the progression of Māori initiatives that uplift my people. The possibilities are endless and 10 years really isn't that long, so I better get to work!