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Lindah Lepou’s Biography

Last Updated:
1/09/2023, 12:19 pm
Arts Foundation Laureate 2022
My Gafa (Whakapapa) is Samoa (Mother) and Tangata Whenua Palagi (Father).
Lindah Lepou was born in Aotearoa and raised in Samoa. She returned to New Zealand as a teenager, on a one-way flight that she won after coming first place in a Fa’afafine Beauty Pageant. Three decades later, she is internationally celebrated as an award-winning, multi-dimensional artist. Her work sits at the intersection of fashion, art and her fa’afafine identity – creating a visual language that has paved the way for those following in her footsteps.

2022 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Toi Kō Iriiri Queer Laureate Award

As an artist, Lindah is deeply focused and wholly committed. She draws inspiration from the tensions implicit in her Pacific and Palagi lineage, using a multi-dimensional approach to counter balance one-dimensional attitudes and references towards cultural and gender identity, creative opportunity and economic diversity, and personal spirituality.

Lindah coined the term Pacific Couture to define her dramatic, conceptually driven, one off garments, often made using Pasifika elements and innovative use of traditional materials. She has exhibited alongside the greats (including Vivienne Westwood and Christian Dior and is interested in the life, death and rebirth of the works she creates; notably setting fire to 25 years of work as a symbol of transformation and as a way to let them go. She challenges us to reconsider pre-conceived ideas about fashion, art and identity – offering forth a new vocabulary that enables us to expand the way we think and move in multiple worlds.

“I don’t have an official title, and/or any academic credentials to prove to anyone that I am a qualified artist, or that I offer any level of credibility. However, I am not only proud to have extensive interdisciplinary experience gained through the real-world route working with some of Aotearoa’s creative pioneers, but I have also been a consistent support system for so many emerging and established LGBTQA+ and non-LGBTQA+ artists over the years.”