Taranaki designer makes epic return to NZ Fashion Week

By Jessica Tyson

After taking a year break, Ngāti Ruanui designer Bobby Campbell Luke is making a return to New Zealand Fashion Week today after winning the established designer category at the prestigious Miromoda competition.

Luke featured in the NZFW New Generation show in 2016.  In 2015 he was awarded as a runner-up emerging designer in the Miromoda showcase where he was reviewed by Olivia Fleming of Vogue.com Australia as one of New Zealand's Designers To Watch.

After experiencing financial struggles with production, Luke says "this years a new year, new clothes, with a better focus and determination.”

Today he'll present his newest collection, Kakahu Hau, the breath of new clothes, with his partner Dominic Blake.

The collection is a reflection of his cultural history and time in the industry.

"It's like repatriating old homewares and each of the fabrics of the majority that I've used are fabrics that I've sourced from the homestead, back from the pā or from my family members.”

“Growing up at my mother’s knee I would always be surrounded by our kuia in the kitchen, gossiping, throwing a tea towel over their shoulders, wearing aprons and clothes that are more about versatility and sharing stories of each other's experiences with their olds.  This, for me, encouraged my design aesthetic too.”  

Kakahu Hau. Source: Campbell Luke

Luke graduated with a Bachelor of Fashion in 2014 and a Masters in Visual Arts in 2016.  He then landed himself as a Ph.D. candidate at AUT University.

With his research, Hau Rongo, Breath of Rongo, he is determined to decolonise western interdisciplinary art and design practices through kaupapa Māori and huri matauranga;  forms of exchanging holistic knowledge told through a creative output.

Luke says he’s is determined to see the future of creative Māori to take precedence in the arena of fashion and contemporary art, to pave a way for younger Māori who wants to pursue this pathway without being ridiculed by a western fashion construct and institute.