Thursday, April 7, 2016

Midcentury Kapa Print Dress


I'm back! It's been an incredibly busy spring for me and so I'm glad to finally have the time to get back to my blog.

This is one of my favorite Polynesian-style dresses from the late 50's - early 60's. When I bought it from Geronimo Vintage, it was brand new with its tags still on! This dress features a wonderful blue tone kapa-inspired print. This was a popular motif for island themed dresses during that time period.

When I was in Madeira last year, I got myself this brooch as a birthday present to myself from the Orchid Gifts of Madeira. It's a real orchid dipped in metal!

The first time I put up a picture of myself in this dress, someone asked what this print is. The design is inspired by Polynesian kapa fabric. Kapa (as it's known in Hawaiian) is made from the pounded bark of the paper mulberry plant. The patterns used on traditional kapa varies from culture to culture. Hawaiian papa is very different from that you would find in Samoa which is different from what you'd see in Tahiti. This is a sample of Hawaiian kapa.

Of all the kapa styles of the Pacific Island cultures, I think the dress' fabric most closely resembles Fijian masi. (For the record, Fiji isn't in Polynesia - it's in Melanesia.) Here's a sample of masi. Do you see the resemblance?

Vintage Hawaiian clothing lovers will recognize these prints on dresses or shirts they own but might not be aware of what it really is. Well, now you know - it's vintage midcentury fabric inspired by traditional, indigenous fabric designs. Here's another dress of mine, a Kamehameha, that also features a kapa-inspired print.

I collect so many Hawaiian/Oceania-inspired dresses that aren't really suited to being work outfits, so it's great to have a dress that is not only perfectly work appropriate, it's vintage and island-inspired to boot!

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