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Fiji’s growing fashion influence in the Pacific

Fijian designer and Fashion Council of Fiji member Ilai Jikoiono has put Fiji on the blue carpet at the world premiere of Walt Disney’s Moana by designing a dress for Hon. Frederica Tuita Filipe, daughter of Tonga’s Princess Royal Salote Mafileʻo Pilolevu. This is a first for a Fijian designer to feature at a Hollywood premiere. “Moana is such a significant movie for young Pacific Islanders who will have a role model on the big screen, who looks exactly like them. I wanted to be truly representative and authentic in how I presented myself on the red carpet” Hon. Frederica said in a statement. Hon. Frederica consulted a number of Pacific designers but chose Zuber Fiji (Jikoiono’s label) because of its simplicity and complimenting design.

Hon. Frederica and HSH Prince Tungi and Honourable Ethan Tuku'aho. (Picture from Getty Images)

“I am so grateful to Zuber Fiji and designer, Ilai Jikoiono for coming through in such a short timeframe and to my dear friend, Salome Tukuafu for making the introduction. My dresses, in the colours of the “moana” were a perfect complement to my heirloom 'kie hingoa' which was the centrepiece of my outfit, which also belongs to my mother.”

Hon. Frederica wanted elements of the Pacific that were subtle but didn't overwhelm her waist mat, a 200-year-old heirloom. The colours that Jikoiono chose were her way of highlighting climate change and its impacts on Pacific people, the importance of conserving our ocean and ensuring sustainability of our cultures and way of being.

Ilai Jikoiono is honoured to be the first Fijian designer to make the red carpet in Hollywood. “To have been selected by a member of the last Monarchy in our region, a truly gracious Pacific Princess, for a Hollywood event - a Disney movie premier, which is representing us Pacific Islanders is not only an exciting opportunity but also a great honour” said Jikoiono.

Hon. Frederica and HSH Prince Tungi and Honourable Ethan Tuku'aho with Dwayne Johnson (Picture from

Jikoiono also said from the beginning Hon. Frederica was adamant that the 'kie hingoa', a family heirloom, be the centre focus of her look, a testament to her deep passion for her culture and our region.

“Upon meeting her, it became clear that she is, the real life "Moana", an Oceanic Princess, a woman with a deep passion for our home, so it was only fitting that he garment represented voyage, discovery, and love - the ocean, our ocean” Jikoiono added.

Jikoiono also said that Hon. Frederica looked looked beautiful and carried his design with grace.

"I'm still pinching myself as I can't believe that she chose me. I'm very grateful to God for this amazing opportunity" he added.

From a sketch to the blue carpet at the Moana Premiere (Pic by Ilai Jikoiono)

FCF Chairman Faraz Ali believes this is an endorsement for Fiji’s growing fashion influence.

"Hon. Frederica is a brilliant representative, not only of her own country, but of the entire Pacific. Moana is the first time our region is being represented through cinema, and this is cause for celebration. The Council and I have had a mantra for the past two years "the Pacific is coming", and the release of this film is an announcement that we are here.

Ali also added It is important to note that fashion, what is worn, the styling in this film is what gives this film it's Pacific identity.

“The animators painstakingly have incorporated a little bit of all of us in our region into Moana's attire. We are represented, not only by who she is, but by what she is wearing. Images of her tell the story of the Pacific, even before the film begins” added Ali.

Auli'i Cravalho and Diamond Langi with the Tongan Royal Family (Picture from

Hon. Frederica is a real life 'Moana', and she has chosen a Fijian designer to create a garment for her on the red carpet. This is a strong endorsement of our industry, and of Suva as the Fashion Capital of the Pacific, the establishment of which is one of the Fashion Council's objectives. This is also the first time that a Fijian designer has had their garment appear on a global red carpet (in the case of Moana blue of course), at a world move premier, and in Hollywood.



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