In true Fijian style, I was on Fiji time for my first international fashion show. Yes, this Fijian forgot you can’t just catch a $10 cab and be at your destination. Two trains and one Uber later I was at Carriageworks in the nick of time as the first collection debuted.
Carriageworks is a contemporary multi arts center and is the home of Australian Fashion Week and it is ‘everything’. (Swooning at all this glorious space under one roof)
The bright vivid Pacific colors of the collections against this industrial, harsh yet uber chic setting had me inspired.
There is no doubt that the Pacific diaspora community is an untapped source of creativity and Pacific Runway is the platform that is paving the way for these designers to showcase what the Pacific has to offer.
Top 3 picks
Hands down, honest to goodness, Ilai Jikoiono’s FJFW17 collection ‘Zetus-Lapedus' stands shoulders above the rest.
Ilai took time off to go to fashion school at APTC and it shows with his technical finish on his garments. There is a fresh edge to his collection that is distinctly metropolitan and melds with our industrial surrounding and coupled with those glorious shoes, it’s on fire! You can read my interview about his collection here.
His inspiration came from an old family album of his parents in the 70’s, the collection has a subtle, modern edge in dark tones. He’s chosen pleather; wool, cotton and a shower curtain (I kid you not) to create his collection and the silhouettes are distinctly 70’s.
Urban street wear with a touch of Pacific. Taking the trends of street wear and marrying Polynesian motifs, this was a standout for me.
This is a true ode to the Pacific diaspora community. Everyday wear for your man but distinctly Pacific. Their goal to showcase Polynesian tattoos with urban wear comes through with the men’s T-shirt-tunics. Still not sure how I feel about those. But I like the risk they’re taking.
I’m digging the blocks of solid colors and Pacific motifs and it’s refreshing to see Pacific men taking the Runway. Though I am not a fan of bucket hats.
This urban brand was created by Wesley Lolo and runs it with his brother George Lolo and Jack Perrin.
LUMAI | Capsule 1 | KOLOS
Lumai is a women's ready-to-wear label based in Auckland, New Zealand by Papua New Guinean, Dru Douglas.
The capsule collection is in my top 3 because to put quite simply its ‘lush’. There is a subtle complimenting of PNG accessories with bold earth tones and silhouettes which oozes a chicness that is old school. I can see a couple of these pieces poolside with my mojito.
The collection epitomized an intellectual minimalist vibe that pegs Dru Douglas as the rising star to watch in the Pacific fashion community. Fabulous work!
So as the night drew to an end, here are some things I think the organizers need to consider.
To be true to the name ‘Pacific’ there must be a more concerted effort to be inclusive of all Pacific Islanders. I felt we had a lot of Polynesian representation, we need to look to the diaspora community and include more Melanesian and Micronesian designers.
Technical finish, we face the same problem here in Fiji where finished garments are not up to standard for the Runway. I saw the same problem with some collections tonight. The only solution for this, is education, it’s the path our are designers on. How this platform can facilitate that is another discussion.
(Pictures by Dusk Devi and Ray Bartholomeus Photography)
Congratulations to the team, it's a show to be proud of and I can't wait for next year.