Samoa’s Beyonce ready for the big time

By One Look Communications ,

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Best traditionally inspired attire and Best Sarong wear for Miss Pacific Island Pageant 2014. Designed and put together by the So’onalani Hive with the support of the Manaia Event. Worn by Latafale Auvaa Miss Samoa/Miss Pacific Islands 2014.

Best traditionally inspired attire and Best Sarong wear for Miss Pacific Island Pageant 2014. Designed and put together by the So’onalani Hive with the support of the Manaia Event. Worn by Latafale Auvaa Miss Samoa/Miss Pacific Islands 2014. (Photo: Taitin images)

His traditionally inspired creations have adorned former Miss Samoa winners and have consistently grabbed first place at these pageants.

His unique floral arrangements have graced many a church stage, wedding reception or public event. 

But his name is not really known to many.

Yet. That is all set to change with the inclusion of Beyonce Faailo’s debut collection in the upcoming Samoa Fashion Week.

Held on the 12th to the 17th of September, 2016 at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, this spectacle is put together by the Samoa Arts Council in collaboration with the Pacific Runway Fashion Show Sydney, Australia. 

And yes, Beyonce, is his actual name. But with a ‘he’ pronoun. His choice.

The Samoa Fashion Week, SFW, will be Beyonce’s first foray into the world of mainstream fashion. 

And if all goes well, it will definitely not be his last.  

“Fashion has always been my passion and after several successful attempts at a few beauty pageants over the last five years, I just thought to myself that it’s now time to perhaps try out an actual fashion show. So, the upcoming fashion show came about just at the right time. On top of that, it is promising rare opportunities for the emerging designers, and the overall construct of the show as well as its objectives, aims and goals sound convincing and promising.”

For someone who is potentially on the verge of prominence and recognition, Beyonce shies away from the limelight, refusing even to have his photo taken for this article. He prefers instead to let his work speak for itself. And conservative is not a word you would associate with his work. “I am always into the out-of–the-ordinary expressions with fashion. I like exotic, unique and extravagant pieces.” Beyonce’s collection at the SFW will be called So’onalani Hive as a tribute to his grandmothers, So’onalote and Salani, who had an early influence on the young designer’s life. He credits them for being the ‘sources of my gifts’ and ‘my role models’.  “My mom’s mother was a weaver and she sewed too. Her old, manual Singer sewing machine had been my secret toy when I was at home alone. My grandmother can weave all day until she goes to bed and her excess dried-pandanas (laufala) strips from her weaving added to my range of toys when I was very young. 

“My father’s mother was a pensioned faletua and she was a voluptuous lady with an hour-glass figure. I always admired her in her faletua dresses and she always presents herself well everywhere she goes,” said Beyonce.

He will be designing about 15 original pieces for the SFW’s six different categories, plus the traditionally inspired category under his So’onalani Hive label. 

“The ‘Hive’ is basically referring to the house of bees. So strategically, to spice up the label and to stay different from the others, I decided to give it this name. In fact, a beehive is where the honey is made and therefore the So’onalani Hive is where the So’onalani honey is made. 

So So’onalani Hive wishes to give the upcoming Fashion Show stage a slice of its honeycomb,” Beyonce said with a laugh. The eldest of six children, the 27-year-old from Siumu and Tanugamanono, is currently working at Digicel as a Team Leader for Customer Care. He holds a Degree in Management and a Diploma in Media and Journalism from the National University of Samoa. But it is in fashion design where his heart really lies.  “Fashion design has always been a part me ever since I was very young and it has been clinging on over the years making it a life-long dream. I was always into the arts and the arts have been a part of me all the way. It was something that I go to bed with and wake up to most times,” said Beyonce.

He grew up admiring the work of famed, international fashion designers. Names like Versace, Armani, Chanel and Valentino may sound ambitious for a local designer to aspire to, but for Beyonce, that is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

“I’ve always been amazed by the work of so many big names internationally and long to become like them or even go alongside them one day,” he said.

For the young designer, his creative talent has been honed throughout the years by decorating churches, corporate functions, weddings and a myriad of events. 

But his real passion is in fashion design.

“Fashion designing is a ton of different things but the part I love the most is trying to turn my sketches into real garments, despite the fact that sometimes, some projects just exhaust my brain. Sometimes the drawing can be creatively beautiful but the materials, fabrics and textiles that you work with can be very different from your art. Therefore, winning these little challenges along the way can be exciting and even more so when the final work looks much better than the actual drawing.”

The Samoa Fashion Week has now provided him with the platform to realize his design dreams and to hopefully launch a stellar career in what his heart is most content doing. 

“I would love to see myself on international stages and travel the world in pursuit of fashion goals and dreams.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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