Editor | Rajan Sami
Cultural stimulus for the curious mind
PHOTO ADRIAN ALI
Ones to Watch Andrew Powell, Joseph Lesi and Sonam Sapra are three designers who caught our attention at Fiji Fashion Week 2012. Each showed a remarkably polished debut collection on the final, emerging designers’ night and holds the promise of bigger and brighter things to come. Page 40
Style Sisters Sandhya (Dusk) Nand and Zelda Thomas (pictured here in a 1994 shoot for Image, Zelda’s label and Tradewinds boutique of the same name) are two of the famous faces that graced Fiji’s catwalks in the late 80s to the mid 90s. They make a highly anticipated return, along with other famous models of the era, at Style Fiji, the annual charity fashion show in aid of Nadi hospital at Sheraton Fiji Resort on Saturday 1 December. Page 38 November 2012
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LOOKING BACK The Supers Are Back! From the late 80s to the mid 90s, this gaggle of beautiful, long-limbed women, each as different to the next, ruled Fiji’s runways. Even today, some 20 years later, people still remember their names.
Here Come The Hotsteppers
The 90s birthed the ‘Supermodels’ – international stars like Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista – women who were known by their first names and whose fame extended far beyond the catwalk. Seen here backstage at the Wella Awards in 1994 wearing Tanya Whiteside are our homegrown supers: Standing, left to right Priscilla Singh; Sandhya Nand; Sunita Devi; Zelda Thomas; Melinda Marriott; Zena Jenkins; front: Marlene Vuniwaqa; Grace Buinimasi and Eileen Sinclair – as they were known then. (Inset) With designer Tanya Whiteside and UKbased Kiwi hair stylist Patrick Cameron (who conducted an on-stage hair show for Wella, then a major sponsor of fashion shows).
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And even though the women themselves have “gotten married and moved on with different lifestyles and careers,” there’s been an overwhelming call for their return to the catwalks, says Zelda Thomas, one of the originals. She and another famous face from yesteryear, Marlene Blake (who is now a successful fitness instructor in Nadi) are two of the people behind Style Fiji – an annual charity event that benefits Nadi Community Hospital. “After the [inaugural] 2011 show, there were a lot of people in the audience that expected to see us,” says Zelda. “I was shocked. This is like 20 years ago and some people thought we were supposed to come out. It’s like you’re not supposed to age.” “I thought they were having me on and I got told off once or twice,” adds the motherof-three, who sells a clothing line called Exotica through Aladdin’s Cave in Suva. November 2012
ALL IMAGES ON PAGES 41-43 UPPLIED BY DUSK DEVI
Fashion Forward (1) Zelda models her own design at the Project 91 Designer Awards in 1994, its thigh-baring slit an early precursor to the leggy, full skirted looks of late. (2) Likewise, Grace’s ankle-length gown touches on the cutout and sheer trends of today. (3) Long before Fiji Airways went looking for masi kesa motifs for its rebrand, local designers were putting it on the runway. Priscilla still has this smart suit by Glennis Lane and Doreen Erasito, who ran the label/boutique Glendor (an amalgam of their first names) on the ground floor of Honson Building in Suva back in the day. “That particular outfit was a lovely combination of cultures and they made it to my specific measurements so I could have it,” she says. “And then Marlene got told off wherever she was. We didn’t know people expected us to come out. Not when you’re fortyplus! Hello!” “So that is when Marlene said: ‘Okay if they really want, we can make a short appearance – the shorter the better.’” And so on Saturday December 1, several of the ‘girls’ from the original line-up – Zelda and Marlene along with Sandhya Nand, Grace Buinimasi-Dunn, Zena Jenkins and Ema Volavola – return to the Style Fiji 2012 runway at Sheraton Fiji Resort in Nadi. Zelda, who is working back-of-house at the event and whose youngest daughter Morgan Rose (17) is modeling, hopes to get it over with quickly, saying: “I don’t want to look like I’m hogging the catwalk – not at this age. Do you know how embarrassed my daughters will be?” n RAJAN SAMI
3 November 2012
n For information on the event, visit facebook.com/StyleFiji republikamagazine.com | Repúblika |
salon Jah Rules Twenty-six-year-old Joseph
Lesi, formerly of the design trio Second Chance, is behind the new Jahead label, which features hand-painted designs that call to mind the gauzy, muslin offerings of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The Garden Island lad, who’s had a hardscrabble past D (Second Chance was founded by three JAHEA youth offenders trying to make good via fashion) says the theme of his debut collection is “Rags to Riches”, adding: “I want my label to make me rich”. To buy, contact the designer on +679.8338183 n RS
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Red Carpet Ready As the very last dress to hit the 2012 Fiji Fashion Week runway, this chartreuse silk gown (with its spellbinding, sequinned lace bodice) literally brought the style event to a standstill - even drawing a few audible gasps from the audience. Its designer, Suva-born Andrew Powell, who scooped both the emerging and designer of the year awards, had the Academy Awardwinning Aussie thespian Cate Blanchett in mind. “She is a muse I would undoubtedly love to dress,” he says, citing her “classic elegance, strong artistic choices and her ability to turn conformity on its head and convince everyone it is chic”. Fresh off the back of a 360-degree fashion design course in Brisbane, Powell put his 18-piece collection together painstakingly by hand. It’s been a long road to the runway for the thirtysomething designer, who is, at last, pursuing his teenage dream. n RS
ANDREW POWELL IMAGE FIJI FASHION WEEK
SONAM Runway to Resort Sonam Sapra’s entire 12-look collection, featuring neon-bright hand-rendered prints inspired by beetles, could have walked straight off the catwalk and right into Fiji’s resort boutiques. Which is just what the relative newcomer to fashion intended. For the last four months, Sapra worked with two Fijian factories to put her signature doodles on chiffon, silk satin and monroe before transforming them into highly-covetable bathing suits, kaftans and slips. (For context, most designers showing at Fiji Fashion Week produce collections through small tailoring outfits and therefore struggle with post show production.) Born in Labasa and raised around the world Bangladesh, India, Iran, Kenya and the United States (thanks to a parent in the United Nations), Sapra recently returned to Fiji to set up shop, armed with a communication design degree from Parsons, the prestigious New York design school that counts Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan among its alumni. Sapra, herself, is not short on ambition, saying: “The real vision is to be the Gucci of Fiji”. To purchase, contact the designer on email@example.com n RS
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Confessions of the Fijian mind
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