First transsexual designer to debut at NZ Fashion Week

By Taroi Black

Tomorrow, New Zealand Fashion Week's first transsexual designer is about to reveal her Māori-inspired collection of couture at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland.

Cecilia Kang is a self-taught designer in couture fashion and comes from South Korea. 

However, her line is Māori-inspired and embroidered with the iconic 'koru' symbol.    

“My Māori friends have that unique beauty-look that I admire and love.  I always get that inspiration from them,” she says.

Couture fashion is designed for the client’s specific requirements and measurements.  The process consists of pattern-making, cutting and hand-sewing.

Kang honed her skills over six years of intensive practice.

The collection is titled "Goddess in Garlands" and captures the sense of an earth goddess, with garlands of flowers and forest motifs.

“It's New Zealand designers' goal to showcase their pieces at New Zealand Fashion Week and a dream come true to become a couture designer,” says Kang.

A delegate from the event says couture fashion will give Kiwi designers opportunities in Dubai and Japan for high-end clients.

Aida Kiani says, “Couture designers normally use different fabrics, expensive fabrics and they use a lot of time– 200 to 300 hours to make one dress handmade, so it’s very unique.”

As a trans woman, Kang's is a familiar and heart-breaking story of family tension and torturous high school years.  She began life in South Korea, with her family moving to New Zealand when she was 12, and is currently studying Te Reo Māori.

“I’m actually very honoured to be a part of it. To represent our LGBT community”, Kang says.

See the Cecilia Kang Couture show at 4pm Tuesday August 28, Main Runway, ANZ Viaduct Events Centre,