They came to slay, Fiji Style!

The designers of the inaugural Fijian Fashion Festival came to slay! OK!

Rain christened the night in Suva City at the Grand Pacific Hotel, the show was well styled and intimate. I like this set up where it's free seating, your $150 ticket gets you a guaranteed front row, you snooze you lose. A tight show with seamless transition between designers meant a packed 1 hour show where you weren't losing the attention of the audience.

Trends on the runway were tropical prints and frills, and as promised here are my thoughts of some of the collections of the night.

Margin by Honson Chan

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Yaaaaasssss! How refreshing to see Fijian urban pop culture in menswear come to life on the runway. Some of my fave prints are the simple play on the colors of the rubik's cube which pays homage to the 80's (I think) with a combination of masi motif overlays. T-Shirts are the basics for any male so his take on the staple food we Fijians grew up on, the 'bisikete' with the slogan 'Spread em thick, soak em good', a cheeky double entendre had me smiling ear to ear. I am a child of the 80's so this collection is giving me life!

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

By far my fave tonight is the 'Andhy Warhol' esque print of our much beloved Ben Ryan with 'Ratu' simply put at the bottom and the designer got the approval of the man himself. I walked straight to the fashion mall and purchased 2 t - shirts for father and son.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

But weaved into the collection are the safari shirts which is a throw back from Fiji's 60s-70's era but what really grabbed my attention is the subtle, delicate geometric motifs and color palette which I think could become his signature style.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Honson, welcome to the Fiji Fashion Industry, you made your grand entrance in flipping STYLE, take a bow! Also I sent pics via Instagram to 'Ratu Penioni' and got a 'very cool' comment back!

LavaLani Designs by Su Samuel

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

I am going to give some 'real talk' here, when Su debuted some years back with her bridal collections it was to put in blunt terms 'horribly horrendous' I watched and cringed as I saw poorly constructed garments come down the runway at FJFW15 but all of that is dust in the wind tonight with her collection 'Sawana' which is 'beach' in her Mum's dialect from Vabea, Ono, Kadavu.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Su is a graduate of APTC Fashion and Design Certificate 1, for the past 3 years she has put her head down and honed her technical skills as a designer and 'Looooorrrrrrdddy Beeeee' she made her statement tonight with every single piece of her collection from that fabulous jumpsuit with a lined hood that just screams 'Grace Jones' to the simple shirt dress to pantsuits to flowy summer skirts, LavaLani is here to stay.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Something that also drew my eye was the delicate floral prints which had minuscule masi motifs and she told me that she brought her floral fabric and added her own print over it. Ingenious technique! And I love the cuban hats used to accessorize, very reminiscent of the Chanel 2017 Resort collection and the finale masi gown was sublime.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

This is what we're advocating for, 'fashion education' or 'technical skills' that will make better products to showcase on the runway. So for me to personally witness her journey and come full circle is extremely satisfying. She may need to finesse a couple of pieces but she’ll get there.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Su, keep doing you, honey boo boo! You have proved what hard work and technical knowledge can do.

RL by Rowie Lal

Photography by Ray Lochlan - Campbell

The drama that unfolded on social media the week before with her barbed comments at other designers from FJFW18 had me thinking 'Girl, you better come prepared with your opening collection, them is fighting words' and in a nutshell she did, was it my cup of tea? I'm still not sure.

Photography by Ray Lochlan - Campbell

She told a cohesive story with her collection, the theme of empowering women came through loud and clear and her styling aesthetic can't be denied but as I sat there looking at the prints of her fabulous jackets and pants, I could not connect with it, all I could see were these iconic women like Maya Angelou and Amelia Earheart and think 'Meh' and I realised why, there were no pictures of iconic women figures from Fiji.

Photography by Ray Lochlan - Campbell

How wonderful would it have been to see her collaborate with the National Archives of Fiji, I have seen the most poignant black and white pictures being shared on their FB page of school girls walking our old capital in the 60's or women in the 70' working our switchboards, now that I would of paid money to wear. I want authenticity!

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

To give Rowie credit, I grabbed her after the show and told her I didn't connect with the prints and wanted to see local women and she told me that was her intention but unfortunately the local women she did approach asked for a fee (fair enough) and she did have one local activist, Debbie Singh on the prints but I didn't see it.

I liked the style and story she was telling with the collection!

Fancy Pants by Gwen Fong

Photography by Ray Lochlan Campbell

I try to do at least one DIY project every 3 months and struggle, so this designer is a fellow kindred spirit of the DIY world, I stalk her on Instagram to see what she's concocting for clients.

There is something almost whimsical and playful about this collection that evokes a carefreeness of our childhood. Every single piece is handcrafted and would make any DIY enthusiast swoon.

My favourite piece is the bell shaped skirt and crown that had hundreds of handmade paper flowers which if I am correct she recycled from the wedding wall of fellow designer Rachel Fairfax also worth a mention is the bougainvillea ensemble that came down the runway looking like it was just picked fresh from the bush, how did she do that, what is this sorcery?

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

I am a lover of the arts and DIY, so this gets a double thumbs up from me. Wananavu Fancy Pants!

The House of Retima

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Nope! No how, no way, this collection should of made the runway. Quality control and higher standards needs to be enforced, I literally cringed on the designer's behalf.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

We are at the 'Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival' this is high fashion, what I saw tonight, I could have easily gone down to the flea market picked a dress off every rack and matched this collection.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Not to knock the flea market vendors, these are veterans of our garment industry and they have their market but this was not the place for the 'House of Retima'. I am not saying this to be mean, I genuinely feel if we can't call a bad collection a bad collection how are our designers and platforms supposed to grow.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

This was not a cohesive line, the construction of garments were below par, the designer needs to go back to the drawing board if they're serious about doing this properly.

RFX by Rachel Fairfax

Everyone knows RFX is high stakes fashion so I was pleasantly surprised with Rachel's summer linen dresses with soft earth tone palettes a nice change that showed a softer side to her and I can see why, the whole collection was inspired by her three girls.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

Here's why this appealed to me, ordinarily RFX's collection are tailored towards to the small sized and that's always been Rachel's market but these pieces could easily be worn by Pacific sized women here in Suva.

Photography by Infinity Images Fiji (Allan Stephen)

The frills are on trend and I am delighted to see this playful side of Rachel as a designer. Fabulous work, Rachel!

Donnalesi by Donna Whippy

Photography by Ray Lochlan Campbell

Safari shirts are on trend tonight, I like the color pallettes of the collection but if you're sitting front row you can see the flaws easily, unfortunately some of the pieces weren't sitting right on the models and after chatting with the designer, as in any show you will have 'fitting' problems and in their case 2 models pulled out and last minute alterations weren't an option hence some garments not looking 100% great on the runway.

Photography by Ray Lochlan Campbell

But Donna tells me that hasn't dampened her sales and post orders!

Day 2 review will be up soon! I always welcome feedback and comments so drop me a line, I'd love to hear from you.

Lolomas,

Neisau

#Fashion #FijianFashionFestival #Margin #SuSamuels #LavaLaniDesigns #RFX #RachelFairfax #HouseofRetima #FancyPants #HonsonKeongChan

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