AFTER months of sitting in the back of The Aviary, chugging away on a retro Singer sewing machine, local designer Julie Puddick is about to present her new collection to the fashion scene.

Formerly behind local brand Rubies Design, Puddick will launch new brand, MASAMI, at the Tiki Ahua contemporary Maori culture fashion show this weekend.

It’s all very exciting,” says Puddick, who will be taking part in a fashion show for the first time.

The theme of this year’s event is ka mura (to set alight). Te Pupu and Te Hoata, the Maori goddesses of fire, are the inspiration.

“Ka describes the act of setting alight. Mura is a flame. Together they describe the fostering of life and creation, bringing something into existence,” says Puddick. “This inspired my bespoke collection for the show, ‘Volcanic Fire’.” With gold and silver detailing shimmering over rich, earthy layers of silk, linen, wool and draped viscose, the eight- outfit collection is set to erupt down the catwalk. But the collection will do more than show off Puddick’s unique designs, with elements of her East Coast hometown promoted in the work. “The fabrics embody unique aspects of New Zealand’s nature and heritage, with textures and motifs hinting at birds, lava, stone, sun, ta moko, and the bush of the Waioeka Gorge,” she says.

The local designer, who works out of The Aviary in the Poverty Bay Club building on Childers Road, sourced trims, textiles and embellishments from antique markets, family heirloom collections, and international fabric specialists.

Retro designs feature heavily in the debut MASAMI collection.

Talking about one of her creations, she describes it as a 50s-inspired vintage coat. “I found an old coat and got my pattern maker to make a template from it,” she says. Retro techniques are also employed, with Puddick using a vintage Singer sewing machine for her work. “Many years ago I did some work for a man and he paid me with this machine,” she says.

The MASAMI show collection will be complemented by Rotorua-based Nerida Johnstone’s Henare jewellery.

“Nerida uses these beautiful, unpolished stones from all around the world. They all have a meaning and a healing aspect,” says Puddick.

Also hailing from the East Coast, Johnstone’s collection is named after her grandfather, an East Coast native.

“He was a stoic war hero, ruggedly handsome, and a hard working man who was happiest working the land and shaping it with the fences he built all over the East Coast of New Zealand,” says Johnstone.

“I would watch him bend and shape his fencing materials with his huge hands and I often think of him when I am shaping and forming my own work”.

Puddick says a fashion show at the Dome Room following the Rotorua event is a possibility.

The full MASAMI Volcanic Fire collection will be available in store at The Aviary or online at (website launches September 23).

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