Samoan fashion fusion set for London

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 22 August 2018, 12:00AM

Designer Cecilia Keil turned the beautiful gardens at her Vaitele residence into a fashion walkway last Saturday to showcase her new designs, which she will take to London Pacific Fashion Week (L.P.F.W.) next month. 

Promoting the connection between fashion, culture and the environment, the theme for L.P.F.W. fashion week for the next three years is “Climate Change for the Pacific”, a theme that Ms. Keil is very familiar with and one that is close to her heart.

Representing Samoa in a major fashion event coinciding with the annual London Fashion Week, Ms. Keil has tailored her designs to suit the European market but without losing their Samoan flair.  

“The collection for London is designed more for the European Market but still very much infused with our Pacific elei.”

“The print theme depicting sea level rise taking over our vulnerable Islands, which also has the underlying message of our arts and culture slowly drowning out through mass production and cultural appropriation by foreigners,” she said.

While in London, Ms. Keil has a speaking engagement at an event being jointly hosted by the Sainsbury Research Unit and the Horniman Museum and gardens, which focuses on “Pacific Fashion: A living Legacy”. The fashion designer also will take the opportunity to speak about the effects of cultural appropriation on indigenous designs.

“I will speak about my long time fight against foreigners taking advantage of our culture and art by mass producing our prints and distributing it around the world.”

 “This defines who we are and it’s important and symbolic to me because it reminds me of where I come from. I will also be promoting our beautiful Samoa as a tourist destination as we strive to also make it a fashion hub in the Pacific,” she said.

The garden fashion show also served as a fundraiser to help Ms. Keil reach her destination and participate in an exclusive global fashion event in the United Kingdom. The event was well attended by friends and supporters of the fashion industry, who rallied behind one of Samoa’s top designers on the evening. 

“Local community has shown their support through buying tickets to my fundraiser as well as a few business houses assisting with monetary donations.” 

“To attend this event is so expensive, the excess luggage fees alone to take the collection all the way to London and back is approximately $12,000 tala,” she added. 

Cecilia Kiel is the only fashion house representing Samoa at the L.P.F.W. with another designer from American Samoa and will depart for London in the second week of September. 

L.P.F.W. was established in October 2012 and originally founded as a fundraiser for British Armed Forces registered charity Help for Heroes. Over the past five years, L.P.F.W. has continued on as a regular fashion event in the United Kingdom promoting established Pacific Fashion Designers.

A champion of Pacific design, art and culture, L.P.F.W. acts as a platform for designers living and working in the Pacific to engage with the fashion industry and represent them exclusively in the United Kingdom. To do this, a select number of fashion designers from the Pacific travel to London every September for L.P.F.W.

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 22 August 2018, 12:00AM

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