Iconic pioneers of fashion industry honoured

By Ilia L. Likou 06 June 2017, 12:00AM

The pioneers of the fashion industry in Samoa were honoured and celebrated at Taumeasina Island Resort last Saturday night as part of Life Con Explosion’s finale.

The iconic women included Fa’amausili Leinafo Tuimaleali’ifano; Frieda Paul; Janet Sablan; Su’a Julia Wallwork; Muliaga Jean Ash-Malifa; Merita Wendt; Tuitama Iliganoa Sapolu; Papali’i Viopapa Anandale; Luagalau Fo’isaga Shon; Va’asilifiti Moelagi Jackson; Gatoloai Amataga Gidlow and Namulauulu Dr. Potoi.

The Director of Social Development Programmes of the Pacific Community (S.P.C), Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago–Elisara, paid tribute to them.

She said the opportunity to honour them could not have been done at a better time with the commemoration of 55 years of independence.

“They have been a source of inspiration through their sense of style, that is unique and timeless,” she said.

“There are many whom observe with admiration their bravery to stand out and make a statement in the fashionable trends that they have set which celebrates our culture, our women, our beauty and the pride we carry as people of Samoa.”

Their profiles;



Su’a is the First Pioneer of fashion and women in business in Samoa. 

She owned the very boutique and fashion shop in Samoa, the famous Carol and Mark, which was named after her children. Carol and Mark started with the sale of clothing and accessories from overseas and later Su’a Frieda added her won unique local fabrics and started designing and selling Samoan prints referred to at the time as Pele Creations. 

Su’a Frieda was also the first to introduce Fashion Shows in Samoa which has started many fashion shows that have followed suit over time. Su’a believes that enthusiasms, hard work and common sense are key ingredients for success in the fashion industry. One of her best friends and the key models was the late Mrs. Tui Annandale who was not one of her helpers at the time, but was also very much a part of her journey and a source of inspiration for her. 



Fa’amausili is the former Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Lands and Survey. Educated in New Zealand she is also and active member of Saint Mary’s Old Girls Association and one who is proud of her identity as a Samoan woman. Fa’amausili has always had a passion for style and fashion and one with a Conservative taste of style. She believes in being bold and confident to present your own unique style as Samoa woman and that our women should not need to be too simple in their sense of fashion but should have that confidence to make a statement about who they are, as first impressions.



Tuitama is another of our earlier pioneers of fashion and of women in business in Samoa. She opened Le Tiara Boutique in 1979 after she returned from the United States and was only one of the only two fashions shops in Samoa at the time, the first one being Carol and Mark. Tuitama has a love of fashion style and one through her engagement in the fashion industry, continues to the trends for fashion in Samoa. Tuitama believes in selling quality products, starting small taking small steps towards diversifying the products, but ensuring consistency of quality at all levels and maintaining the durability of the business. Tuitama is one  who is not only inspired by her own strong love of fashion but also by the beauty and sense of fashion that other women and her own friends continue to portray. 



Gatoloai Amatagafa’ana Alesana Gidlow is a former Minister of Cabinet and a current member of Parliament and also the owner of the famous Savaiian Hotel at Lalomalava. Gatoloai’s sense of Samoan fashion stems from her own inspiration to maintain her identity as a Samoan tama’ita’i and this continues to influence and dictate her attires and the way she presents herself. One of the bold models who was a source of inspiration for her taste of Samoan fashion was the late Masiofo Fetauimalemau Fiame Mata’afa in terms of how she carried herself and show she dressed. Gatoloai believes that our signature and branding in our puletasi which is consistently maintained its uniqueness through time. 



Su’a styles of dress were also inspired by the late Laulu Fetauimalemau Fiame Mata’afa. After being bestowed the title Su’a from Gagaifolevao Lefaga Laulu Fetauimalemau continues to guide and provided her wirth the assuarance that she needed. Su’a Julia also claims that the Late Afioga Tooa Salamasina was also one of role model  whom she admired and whose orientation also influence her taste for fashion. Su’a is currently the Country Directir for ADRA Samoa.



A medical doctor by profession, Namulauulu has extensive experience as a medical professional for a number of years having worked in the health sector as a public servant and as a private medical practitioner. In addition to that, Namulauulu is also an active member of the NGO sector and the Samoa Methodist Church. Namulauulu is known for her unique taste and sense of fashion. Her flowers and her scarves as we know is symbolic of her colourful nature and character and that her sense of fashion has no doubt inspired many of our women to have confidence to promote our own creativity for fashion. 



Merita Wendt is the founder and the owner of Plantation House and is famously known for her creativity and innovation in producing homeware and accessories that many customers both local and overseas have come to appreciate. 

Mrs. Wendt has always has an interest in fashion and her own mother was her source of inspiration that made an early impact on her perspective of fashion...whom made sure that as a young girl growing up, had everything she needed. Mrs. Wendt claims that when she came to Samoa shortly after independence, dressing well was important and that was about meeting certain standards and that the way one dresses was determinant for one’s acceptance in society. For Mrs. Wendt, the success of Plantation House goes back to how she started small, experimentation and consistent years of observation and learning.



Muliagatele’s inspiration for fashion comes from her own desire to always look good and feel good. For Muliagatele, being yourself is something she learnt and as she was growing up, she learnt that fashion is about creativity and what style will suit. Muliagatele is one who does not enjoy the limelight but one who continues to work tirelessly in the background supporting the family business that has been in operation for 39 years. Muliagatele has a strong network of women in business that support and inspire her and others towards maintaining their love of fashion and style.



Momoe is an artist by training and one whose foundational education in Arts and Culture was nurtured by her late aunt, Afioga To’oa Salamasina Malietoa. Her sense of fashion and style was enhanced at an early age by her mother, the late Masiofo Lili Tunu Malietoa. Ms. Malietoa believes that for a designer to visualise a new concept he or she must be 3 dimensional in their view. In other words, in order to create something new in its entirety, one must deconstruct the old in order to reconstruct a fresh aesthetic value base. Presently Ms. Malietoa Von Reiche is illustrating books fir children and co directing educational bilingual; films for early readers. 



Va’asilifiti is another pioneer of women in business in Samoa, having owned one of the earlier hotels in Savai’i – Safua Hotel. Va’asilifiti has also been known for work in the conservation sector and has been instrumental; in leading the civil society movement in Samoa. In addition to her many affiliations both in the private and N.G.O sector, Va’asilifiti is also known by her unique taste of fashion that represents her strong Samoan heritage and her orientation as a Samoan woman. Vaasilifiti’s sense of style has no doubt inspired many of our own women in the community.

By Ilia L. Likou 06 June 2017, 12:00AM

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