Published on October 22nd, 2012 | by Chris Park0
Lindah Lepou / Aitu: Homage to Spirit Exhibition
I was invited behind the scenes for the launch of Lindah Lepou’s exhibition launch at the City Gallery Wellington. I knew there were models, and that Michael from Buoy Hairdressing was styling for it, but not much else.
The usual pre-cursory googling told me Lindah is a Pacific couture designer, so I went along expecting something along the lines of jewellery made out of coconut and shells but I was dead wrong.
As the name of the exhibition suggests, the concept behind the exhibition was to pay homage to three powerful heroines from Samoan legends: Taema, Telesa and Nafanu, by re-contextualising and re-portraying them as symbols of power who can be call upon for courage and spiritual strength.
Her exhibition is a mix of fashion and art photography, with each of the figures represented in the photographs wearing Lindah’s garnments.
For the exhibition launch, the models wore the outfits and did a catwalk around the lobby area of the City Gallery, and this was followed by Lindah giving a short talk on what the exhibition means for her, and how it relates to who she is and where she comes from. Here are the outfits modelled at the launch:
The hairpieces and the styling were really something – conch and coral-shaped hairpieces, bright red braiding woven with pared-back makeup. Kudos to Michael and the team from Buoy Hairdressing. Click on the image below to see more closeup shots from backstage:
For most of us (okay – for me), ‘Pasifika-inspired’ means re-purposing a traditional pattern for a cheap cotton print, or anything made of woven flax. I’ve never seen natural fibres and materials used so extensively for couture before, I can see why there has been so much interest in her pieces.
What I liked about the collection most was that it didn’t use Pasifika as just a theme or a colour palette, it was a manifestation of Lindah’s identity and heritage – it just happened to be that it was expressed through fashion and through natural materials.
My favourite piece? The obi-like leather waistband on this outfit:
As for the exhibition itself I was gonna take photos of it but decided against it because it simply wouldn’t do it justice. I’m not sure whether the outfits will also be displayed but I hope they are because they’re worth seeing. The exhibition is open till 20 December so head down, and let me know what you thought in the comments below.