Samoans designers dominate Pacific Fusion Fashion Show

Samoans have dominated the 2nd Pacific Fusion Fashion Show (P.F.F.S) held in Otara last weekend.

Among the winners were fashion labels from Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.A with strong Samoan influence.

Afa Ah Loo from Utah, By Karen Abdul from Melbourne, and NZ’s own Layplan and VAB Designz won special passes to attend NZ Fashion Week events.

Held at the Ōtara Town Centre in the heart of South Auckland, the fashion design competition featured emerging Pacific designers showcasing street wear, evening wear, haute couture and ready to wear fashion.

Judge Megan Alatini says her job was difficult due to the high standard of talent and creativity of the eleven designers that took part in this year’s showcase. 

“It is important for the winning designers to be unique and to be risk takers. They must have high quality workmanship and infuse cultural aspects with an individual flair and style. We want to make sure our designers aren’t just following trends and styles but are seen to set them.”

Afa Ah Loo is originally from Samoa but currently lives in Utah, USA. 

He says he is impressed by Director Nora Swann and the P.F.F.S team and the values with which they run their show. 

“I love the idea of fusing Pacific designs and high fashion as it’s what I specialise in. I just try to make Pacific inspired clothes that are red carpet worthy. I think the show was a success and this venue is so raw and real.”

Karen Abdul-Rahman is a Melbourne based designer of Samoan descent. 

She designs intricate couture gowns for her label By Karen Abdul and remarked, “I am so grateful for this opportunity and to have been named a winner. It’s an appreciation of the work that it took to get here. I’m looking to open my own store in Melbourne in the future. Everything that happens is preparing me for my next big step.”

Layplan is a collaboration between Auckland-based Lavinia Mafi and Talia Betham in Wellington. The Tongan – Samoan duo started their label to express their creativity and build on skills they had gained while studying.

“We had so much fun at this event. We were very nervous but with the help of the P.F.F.S management team, the models and all the other designers we felt so supported. We just feel fortunate to have been a part of it.”

The 45 models that were part of the show were competing for the title of the Face of Fusion won by 18-year-old Mt. Albert Girls Grammar student, Alaimaluloa Toetu’u. 

She made her modelling debut last year and says she is honoured to represent her own fusion of Tongan and Māori heritage. “I’m proud to represent the Pacific community and I am glad that there is an event like this in South Auckland for our designers to show their styles.”

P.F.F.S Director Nora Swann was beaming after the successful show. 

“Some people found it hard to picture a sold-out high-end fashion event in Ōtara, let alone it being a runway down the middle of the Town Centre. We were always confident that we could do it and that we would find designers and an audience who would want to attend. We know the talent is out there and we hoped our community would support it. This just goes to show that yes, high fashion lives here.”

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