Working with Artisan Communities – The Making of Poly’nAsia
In February 2005, in collaboration with Brenda Railey, a Pacific Arts Consultant, I created and presented Poly’nAsia, a range of garments and accessories that identified and built from the affinities between traditional Tongan and Indian textile techniques, as my Masters in Art & Design (Fashion Design) research project at Auckland University of Technology.
A collection of contemporary fashion garments and textiles was produced, inspired by yet distinct from these traditional textiles.
Poly’nAsia connects artisans from two different parts of the world while retaining the cultural integrity of the two artisan communities. “… the Tongan and Indian artisans have been introduced to one another’s traditional techniques, creating the potential to expand on their art practices... “.
I have made new friends and discovered new horizons while working on Poly’nAsia. It has deepened my appreciation of an approach that includes “ …cultural protocols, values and behaviours as an integral part of methodology” (Smith, 1999, p.15) and addresses issues of innovation and social acceptance.
While working with artisan communities we have to adopt an intuitive, organic approach to complement cultural traditions, taking time to build understanding, trust and respect.
As a fashion designer, I strive to build a bridge between artisan crafts and contemporary fashion, and create “… lasting cultural connections” (Armstrong, 2004, p.2) through fashion.
Coordinator of Major Studies (Fashion Design), Australian Academy of Design, Melbourne, Australia
Creative Director, Deidaa Pty Ltd
Samita has a Masters degree in Fashion Design with honours from Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. She has written fashion columns, published papers and given lectures on Indian textiles. In a career spanning over two decades, Samita has worked closely with buying and fashion houses in the United States of America, Europe, Australasia and the Middle East. She has dressed models, beauty queens and film stars.
Samita researches continuously to create ranges that blend fashion forecasts with artisan crafts. Accent is on natural fabrics, handcrafting and traditional techniques. Her label ‘Deidaa’ is sold online and from stores in Sydney, Melbourne, regional Victoria, Western Australia, Gold Coast, Dublin, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.
A finalist at the Style Pasifika Fashion Awards in Auckland for two successive years, Samita is currently Coordinator of Major Studies (Fashion) at Australian Academy of Design, Melbourne, Australia and Creative Director, Deidaa Pty Ltd. She divides her time between India, New Zealand and Australia.