There is so much excitement surrounding the fashion industry within the Pacific. This platform was created because of my personal obsession with the fashion industry and recognizing that we did not have our own platform that highlighted and celebrated the talent coming out of the Pacific.
I have attended a few local fashion shows here in Honolulu and my first life changing event that sparked this obsession was after seeing both Kini Zamora and Manaola shows at Honolulu Fashion Week 2016.
Kini Zamora, a local designer celebrity and island hero for his incredible run on nationally syndicated, “Project Runway & Project Runway All-Stars”, Zamora debuted his Spring/ Summer collection at Honolulu Fashion Week 2016. I was captivated by the energy and the very fact that I was there, in person, witnessing this. And it didn’t hurt that my niece (who was filling in as my last minute guest!) and I were seated in the front row, what a treat!
Manaola was new for me as I hadn’t heard of them before Honolulu Fashion Week. Prior to getting tickets to their show, I read up on the Hawaiian designer and was intrigued by what I found. I was not prepared for what I was about to experience. The ‘Manaola‘ show changed my entire perspective about fashion and where indigenous cultural practices and life could tie into my both my loves of fashion and my culture.
This began my obsession in finding others in the fashion world who felt the way I did about fusing the beauty of indigenous cultures with fashion and making them work together, thus my discovery of ‘Pacific Runway’.
I was honored to attend Pacific Runway’s 7th annual production this past October on behalf of ‘Lady Pasifika’ and what an honor it was. I have never felt so proud and/ or enamored in being a Pacific Islander. The energy was incredible and seeing my fellow Pacific Islanders decked out in their ‘Sundays’ Best’ and beyond was even more exciting.
The show was packed and you could feel the anticipation throughout the venue. Carriageworks is a breathtaking venue for a fashion show. I felt as if I were attending mainstream fashion shows like Marc Jacobs and Dior because of the venue alone. It is a visually gorgeous venue, one that definitely lives up the par that is Pacific Runway.
I don’t know how many people were ‘first timers’ like us but you could see how proud everyone was to be there. It was such an honor to be on the front row where I could see everything so clearly. The show opened with a beautiful rendition of, “This is Me” performed by the incredibly talented and gorgeous Angel Tupai as specifically curated pieces considered a ‘blast from the past’ graced the runway.
The show was a breathtaking display of collections all from designers from within the Pacific Islands. We were swept into the beautiful collections that ranged from modern interpretations of Pacific Island motifs, vibrant colors to daring pieces that were incredible pieces of art. All the photos are provided courtesy of Pacific Runway, via Dusk Devi Photography.
The show opened with luxury resortwear brand Kirrikin which showcased gorgeous patterns produced by indigenous Australian artists.
There were beautiful examples of modern methods of showcasing Pacific Islander motifs, E’vana Couture delivered a line of men and women’s wear that put traditional Samoan motifs at the forefront of their work.
Be Janjan’s collection, “Wonderfully Wild” was incredibly captivating and easily a favorite. Designer, Janice Brown created a collection that plays on traditional Samoan motifs found in the ‘tatau’ but brings them into modern fashion of the 21st century through sexy cuts that complimented every body that strutted down the runway. The confidence was undeniable!
TABU a fabulous fashion label from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) under designer Tabu Pelei-Warupi. For most, I was unaware of the vibrant fashion scene in PNG and the growing number of designers creating such visually stunning masterpieces. I was blown away by the PNG designers’ collection that complimented every skin tone, body shape and brought a refreshing look at ‘islander’ fashion. The motifs are new to me and I know would be new to most of the world especially for those who are unfamiliar with the PNG native and indigenous motifs and artwork.
I was also blown away by Zuber , a fashion label with inspiration from Fiji and Australia founded by designer, Ilai Jikoiono. I was swept into Zuber’s use of traditionally worn materials such as the fibers of the Pandanus leaves weaved into a beautiful tube top paired with classic tuxedo pants and then a carefully embellished black blazer paired with a mini skirt graced with just enough color and traditional designs. The one-shoulder colorful block prints instantly bridge classic and modern island fashion.
There were so many beautiful and moving works that came down the runway but I think the most unforgettable feeling that I felt among the crowd and know everyone would agree, is that we felt proud to know that this, was ‘ours’. ‘Ours’ as in, we were represented with class, style and in a way that put us on the map for something that we as a people have been historically underrepresented and/ or NOT represented at all.
Pacific Runway Director, Jannike Seiuli has created a platform that is historic for Pacific Islanders because in this day and age, although we are in the 21st century, the mainstream fashion and beauty industries operate as if ‘racial’ bias and stereotypes have not been at the forefront of many social scene conversations and protests. I look forward to following these designers I have discovered thanks to Pacific Runway and critique their growth as they release more collections.
Please visit Pacific Runway official site to see more of the beautiful collections and updated information on their upcoming 2019 show in Sydney, Australia at the gorgeous, Carriageworks.