From the islands to Paris, with Arona Karl Wan

ALL IMAGES are Courtesy of: Tahiti Vahine Magazine ©

(Other details/ credit at end of highlight)

Image courtesy of: Tahiti Vahine Magazine ©

Upon first introduction to Arona Paris via social media, I was drawn to the sophistication of Arona’s (Karl) designs. Pouring through many different Pasifika designers, which is so much fun, it is a treat to find work like Arona’s. I knew immediately that we had to feature him and a snippet of his beautiful work.

Arona Paris by Arona Karl Wan has been featured in the prestigious fashion event Tahiti Fashion Week and throughout different fashion events in Paris. Read on to learn more about this extraordinary talent from Tahiti now based in Paris, France-a dream for so many of us who are obsessed with fashion & classic style! We are so honored and excited to feature his work courtesy of Tahiti Vahine Magazine.

ARONA PARIS by Arona Karl Wan
Image courtesy of: ©Moeava-Blaise

1. Name/ Background: What is your Ancestry & Where were you born and raised? 
My name is Arona Karl Wan, I was born in Afaahiti in 1990 , in the peninsula of Tahiti ( Tahiti iti ) and was raised with my French grandmother and Tahitian grandfather. As many Polynesian people that was a very simple life , my grand-mom use to be a teacher and grandfather , a farmer.

2. What were your first memories of fashion?  When was it that you knew you wanted to design clothes?
I always made clothes. Not like others boys. I use to have Barbies when I was a kid. I always loved to empower women’s body (maybe because of the women I use to have all my life around me), I try to make them clothes, cut their hair, try to change their hair colors, make them look fabulous etc.
I always wanted to do something artistic, but didn’t know what kind of art.

3. What has your journey as a designer been like?  What have you learned so far through your journey as a designer?
As many people I have many professional experiences in my life, good
choices and bad ones, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with
my life. 10 years ago as a Polynesian, all those kind of careers seemed so far from my reality. I didn’t have money and this time, I had a
very bad school experience (I did not graduate from high school)
and didn’t have any connections.

I then discovered Lady Gaga at this time and was fascinated by her, not
only because of her art , but because of how hard she worked and how much she believed in herself as a person and as an artist. I admire the way she encourages her followers to do the same: work hard and believe in yourself.

So, I use to make my clothes (they didn’t look good at all
compared to my actual work haha), and I started to learn how to use a sewing machine, and understand different kinds of fabric, the texture

Image courtesy of: Tahiti Vahine Magazine ©

Then I met my boyfriend, who took me to Australia for 2.5 years to work as a backpacker in the farms and cleaner in a chicken factory as well haha etc. That was a big change but also a chance for me to start discover more of the world and start to live a new kind of life far from my family and certainly to start to believe in myself as an independent person.

My boyfriend then bought me a sewing machine that I’d work on after my work day or on my day off and I began to learn fashion with the “DIY
tutorial videos” on Youtube and that how I really started my fashion journey.

Then two years later with all myDIY knowledge” we went back to
Tahiti. One day I saw a Facebook ad about the first edition of Tahiti Fashion
so I decided to  contact them (I still didn’t have any connection
at this time) but I was inspired by Gaga’s mood like, “This is my time, I
have to do it do it

Image courtesy of: Tahiti Vahine Magazine ©

Few days later I met Alberto Vivian (the artistic director and creator of
Tahiti Fashion Week) for the fashion designer casting, and he told me
I was the first designer to be selected for the show, and that’s how
everything officially started for me.

4 . Were there and/ or are there any designers that inspire you?
I like many different designers like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano
for Dior, Azzedine Alaia and of course, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel.

5 . Who are your top three favorite designers and why?
I don’t really have favorite designers because there are so many
talented designers, it’s depend of my mood, but actually if I must
choose 3 it will be : Karl Lagerfeld, for his ultimate elegance,
Jacquemus, for the way he bring south of France in fashion, very
fresh, and I actually like Self portrait Studio, asymmetric work.

6 . What are some things you’d like to see change in the mainstream fashion scenes and even within the Pacific?
Less waste, fashion slow down (too many collection per years, have
no sense to me).

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want my products to be sold in shops in France.

8. Are you working on anything at this moment? If so, what are your current inspirations?  If not, do you have an idea of where you are going as far as ideas?
My new collection is very safari mood.

9. Top three songs on your playlist 
ady Gaga: Stupid Love
Cher: Chiquitita
Kealii Reichel: E Ō Mai

10. What do you want your legacy to be?
To bring faith to all the dreamers of the idea that everything is possible. That you can bring your dreams to life.

Image courtesy of: Tahiti Vahine Magazine ©

11. What are some of your biggest fears? 
I don’t really have a fear about things.

12. Any advice for aspiring designers?
Just share your own vision of fashion, don’t trust people when they
tell you, “you are not good enough“.

13. Where/ What is your dream fashion venue and/ or fashion week?
Paris Fashion Week

Image courtesy of: Tahiti Vahine Magazine ©


Follow Arona’s journey via Facebook, Instagram and his website: