Ethnic Arts International green silk handprinted kaftan gown, 1973

This dress was found by Nathalie Gregory while passing through Taupō on a fleeting trip to one of the local opportunity shops, not knowing anything about the label but recognising the beautifully handprinted nature of the silk habotai fabric as something special.

The label, Ethnic Arts International was owned by Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, NZ's first woman MP. Fanny Buss made many dresses for Whetu, and she also printed fabric for Whetu's studio creations. 

There are family images of Whetu wearing a version of this dress in this colourway, with her husband, while pregnant in 1973. 

This dress is similar to other Fanny Buss creations, constructed of scarf shaped pieces of silk draped on the bias to create a light, voluminous garment with beautiful drape and movement. The placement of the directional koru designs also enhance the scarf nature of this dress. 



Photographer: Denise Baynham
Copyright: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 Licence
Credit: Image used with permission from Archives New Zealand, 2022. Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan and husband Denis. Archives reference: AAQT 6419 CR113, Archives New Zealand, The Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua.
Designer: Dame Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, Fanny Buss
Garment type: Dress
Material: 100% silk habotai
Features: bias cut, hand dyed, hand printed, small buttons at shoulders.
Colour: Greens, yellow, and brown
Last published: September 2022
Label: Ethnic Arts International
Date: 1973