When the Gods decide to send torrential rain down in Suva city and you're a Fijian woman who is getting ready to go to a high fashion event which means make up, hair and heels not getting wet in the rain and melting in the humidity, you make a point to get to the event early to get parking and race through the rain and arrive at the photo wall NOT looking like the lady from 'The Ring' with flat hair and raccoon eyes.
My point is I have no idea what happened to the tight 'on time' schedule from the night before. The 7PM show start went up in smoke as people were made to wait for 45 minutes for the show to start and for someone who was at the venue at 6PM, waiting for almost 2 hours is torture ANNND I was annoyed when I got into the room(I was one of the first) to see almost every chair was reserved with someone's name, I get that you have to give priority to sponsors and VIP's, that's the way an event is run but BUNENE, every seat in the front rows had reserved signs on them. As someone who paid $150 for a front row, standing around and looking for an empty seat was like 'playing musical chairs'. Luckily my date and I had an acquaintance who was a sponsor and said we could take 2 seats. Bless her!
Team FFF, don't advertise free seating if it's not, number the seats so at least we know what we're buying and why on opening night was it free seating and the next it's all reserved. Just saying!
Now to the collections of the night!
Moana by Samson Lee Fiji
The show opened to the haunting sounds of 'Tulou Tagaloa' from the 'Moana' soundtrack and melded in with the live drums of RAKO Pasefika as Samson Lee Fiji opened the final night of Fijian Fashion Festival. Fitting, I thought.
Samson's teal base color evokes our dark Pacific ocean on a stormy night and the combination of his new masi prints of an ombre dusky sunset tells us the story of how we as Pacific Islanders are connected by the ocean or 'Moana'.
Now he's stuck to signature patterns that are big sellers, it may seem that he's playing it safe but he's a businessman that knows his market and understands what Fijian women want and will pay for and true to form straight after the show he sold 3/4 of his collection straight off the rack and these are one off original pieces that will not be reproduced. So his formula of exploring new prints and putting them on styles that sell is paying off.
Spreading some sparkle on the runway with his black sequins and red combination Samson is also bringing some city chic pieces that are beautiful.
But what I want to mention is Samson's advocacy for fellow designers and artisans, every single 'magimagi' necklace used to style his collection is handmade by artisan 'Seniloli' who used to be a big seller at 'Tiki Togs' back in the day. The headpieces were commissioned by Oceanic dancer 'Pelu' and fellow artisan Toka who also handmade the earrings that complimented the collection. Samson understands how important it is for artisans to have a place to sell and thrive and he follows it up by stocking them at his store.
IKOU Rua by 8mountains
Plush size designer Moira Solvalu has gone and done it AGAIN! Rourou never looked so good. IKOU (which means rourou in Rotuman) first debuted at FJFW18 and the original collection didn't give me the 'warm and fuzzies' because the dalo leaves looked like 'hearts' to me and I wasn't feeling it. But the upgrade 'IKOU Rua' left me swooning in envy at those prints that looked like actual 'dalo leaves' along with the print of the inverted 'rourou' bundle. IKOU 2.0 came through, YASS!
Her signature style of 'gold and black' prints made the runway twinkle, particularly the black sulu with bold gold brush strokes (that print looked fierce under the lights, maybe a skirt in that print for the collection?) I love that it was paired with a simple motif of the inverted 'ikou' in matching gold print on a black t-shirt and styled with a magimagi shell necklace gave it an urban Fijian street style. I would love to see a collection based around this look, Moira.
(Photography by Ray Lochlan Campbell)
Now I'm gonna be totally honest here, it was hard to concentrate on her opening piece (white jacket and beautiful grey print) when that lush man Kepa Gaison came strutting down the runway, flapping that jacket open to make all us mere mortals drool at those washboard abs ('Focus Neis', said Mish Singh sitting to my right and Ev Mani sitting further down the row) Anywhooo back to her jackets, I thought it was very astute marketing to put her signature jackets on male models showing her clientele that you can dress your man or yourself with an 8mountain jacket.
So here's to you Moira, (raising my glass of champagne)! Alalum!
Jadeine Whiteside eloquently stamped her mark on the runway with her floral inspired collection from our native 'tagimoucia' to the rose to what looked like hibiscus (it looked like it, could be wrong). The 3rd generation designer of the 'Whiteside' family who are the founders of 'Tiki Togs' is based in China and you can see that her location has it's advantages with the laser printing (or maybe it's sublimation) of these fabulous prints because it looked fantastic on the runway.
So many pieces caught my eye but if I was a new age Fijian bride these are some pieces that I'd be considering for my reception. (Sides husband and whispers 'vow renewal)
Also part of the collection is the print of our traditional masi prints with bold roses interlaced on georgette material, we are a tropical country where the humidity is unreal so JW's georgette pieces are perfect for our weather.
Photography by Ray Lochlan Campbell
But can I just say that even though velvet is not my cup of tea, this red velvet sarong drape skirt is lush and even though it might be a tad hot to wear here in Viti, I'd give it a 'GO'! (When I'm a size 2 LOL)
Again, do you hear wedding bells when you see this? I do, and I see hibiscuses! Sigh....
You haven't disappointed me yet Jadeine not since your first collection. If you want to buy Jadeine Whiteside she stocks at House of Design or you can shop at her online store at here
ME: Marama Elizabeth by Libby Pickering
Music sets the tone for me and the soundtrack to the ME's maiden collection was 'jarring' I felt like I was listening to a bad remix. So maybe it set the tone for my review, it's mixed. Some pieces were passable and some left me feeling 'meh'.
Photography by Ray Lochlan Campbell
I want to be told a story with a collection, was she trying to capture the 80's or 90's or was she trying to do streetwear, I honestly don't know. I have a problem with the menswear in this collection, she goes from simple singlets to baseball shirts to vests and sulus, again I don't get it.
I do like her mix of geometric and straight line prints with tassel fringes, the short dresses were modern yet elegant and I liked the play on textures.
Just a final comment cause you need to be putting your best foot forward when you're debuting, I understand that the masi dress was made to measure for her daughter who modeled it but it's obvious she's lost weight cause it's hanging off her, maybe she should of looked for an alternative model or made alterations. She looked great in other pieces of the collection but not the finale piece. It is quite beautiful with the ombre flower detail.
VONO by Tiana Vono
Yass the fashion revolution is here! I first spotted Tiana at Pacific Runway 2017 and thought she had a distinct style so I was pumped to see what she had to offer for FFF18 and she did not disappoint.
While it is a menswear collection, I feel it can be unisex. The culottes with sheer vests are chic while her suits paired with gold chunky chains and leather caps are making me hear MC Hammer's 'Can't Touch This' in my head. (Nostalgia gets me all the time)
While I loved this collection, some of my circle wasn't feeling it, what I will give her credit for is pushing us to think outside of the 'Fiji Fashion Box'.
It's a collection to be proud of!
Streetlife by Karalina
It's a collection with Carolyn Ah Koy's own stamp of funky style. I am drawn to the blue palette so it was pleasing to the eye to see her play with denim textures while the collection isn't my style, I must say there were a few prints and pieces I would consider adding to my wardrobe.
One thing is for sure, this veteran designer came out in style this season! Who can beat you Carolyn?!
And that is a wrap from the inaugural Fijian Fashion Fest!