"I’m not a very sentimental person. I’m not someone who has keepsakes or knick-knacks or anything like that. So I chose this dress that I made myself, which has a nice story behind it. When I was working as a lawyer back in the day, I took a community college course in sewing, after I graduated. This was in the lead-up to a wedding in Germany that I was planning to attend. I decided I wanted to make my own dress for this wedding. My mum had given me fabric for Christmas and I knew exactly what kind of dress I wanted to make with it.
I decided to teach myself some basic pattern-making. I knew what I wanted in my head so I made myself this pattern. I couldn’t find anything commercial like it, and I knew if I made the pattern myself, I could fit it to me. I got out some pattern-making books, taught myself some of the basics, and started making toiles (sample versions) of the dress. It probably took me a million hours to complete the dress. It was a huge labour of love. It’s something I’m really proud of.
It’s so funny, I was more willing to spend a lot of money on clothes after making this dress. I now understand that sewing takes ages and fabric is so expensive. So much work goes into it. At the time, I was also volunteering to help resettle a former refugee family in Wellington. This dress I made was starting a lot of conversations around sewing, so that was a part of how the seed for ‘Nisa’ was planted."
What does sentimentality mean to you?
"Very little, because I’m not a very sentimental person. I like to use everything I own. If I’m not using it then I‘ll get rid of it. I never buy something beautiful just to own it. If it’s particularly beautiful I want to wear it as much as possible, even if that means ruining it, or that it doesn’t have as long of a life that it otherwise would. To me, items don’t have much innate value outside of what you do with them. Whereas for some people, every object is so precious." - Elisha, Te Whanganui-a-tara/Wellington (Interview: Chloe Mason) Find Elisha: nisa.co.nz