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The Continuity Of Fashion

The Continuity Of Fashion
A model wearing a dress designed by Zelda Thomas
April 14
11:00 2018

This week, we have quite the pairing of designers for you.

We have ‘Pate’ by Alipate So­wane one of our budding designers who is actually launching his label and first ever solo collection at the festival in June.

And we have ‘Zilda’ by Zelda Thomas, a stalwart and icon of the fashion industry in Fiji.

She is featuring her collection at the festival under the Legendary Designer category.

It is this pairing that symbolises the kind of information and knowl­edge exchange that we as a Festival family wish to encourage across all our stakeholders—i.e. models, pho­tographers, designers, and other relevant industry players as it con­tributes to the success of the indus­try as a whole.

Think of it as an ecosystem where we each help and support each other, bringing about greater suc­cesses.

We sat down and had a chat with Zelda and Alipate:

‘Zilda’ by Zelda Thomas

Zelda Thomas is an icon of Fijian fashion. One of the original local “supermodels” of the 80s and 90s. Zelda went on to organise every major fashion show of the 90s and early 00s, and more recently the much anticipated fashion charity show Style Fiji which celebrates 8 years this year.

Indeed, her name is one that can­not be separated from the rich her­itage of our industry, and indeed its success.

Her fashion house produces and retails Zelda (her signature luxury silk line), Exotica, and Morgan Rose.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background in fashion.

I’ve always been involved in fash­ion somehow.

I guess watching the women in my family design and sew their own clothes starting from my own moth­er, my grandmother, my aunties and it was a common occurrence in our house to make our own clothes. My grandmother was constantly sewing so there was fabric every­where and I’d watch her sewing for hours and while she was sewing, I was cutting and making clothes for dolls.

For me it started off as simply learning how to mend clothes and then move onto more complex things.

I really put my foot at the door to the Fashion Industry as a model when I was very young for both the runway and photography as well as commercials.

This went on for just over a decade and really found that I was fascinat­ed by fabric and material.

So it’s something that I have come back to after having done so many other things in life, because it’s something that I am comfortable with and something I enjoy doing.

What is the most exciting thing you are looking forward to at the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival as a de­signer/label?

What I am looking forward to is seeing what the younger designers have come up with.

As a custodian and firm supporter of the industry, I am excited to see the ‘young blood’ who will be taking up the the baton from us the oldies who have been designing from the yesteryears.

There was a gap of about 8-10 years after the red cross shows, so it’s nice to see the momentum being built up again.

What is your definition of fashion?

Fashion to me is something that an individual is comfortable with. If you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing, then thats your version of fashion and style. It’s a fluid definition.

What motivates you as a fashion de­signer?

I’ve done the full circle and I’ve come back to clothing because it is where I am most comfortable.

I also just love fabrics and colours and could spend hours just brows­ing.

How do you stay up-to-date with fashion?

I don’t read magazines or any­thing.

The Pacific is a totally different perspective anyways to the global fashion industry.

We have our own taste, so my de­signs are not dependent on global trends but rather an embodiment of how I feel at a particular time.

Where do you see yourself/your label in 10 years time?

Definitely expanding. I want also want to be able to continue to sup­ply different outlets, not necessar­ily out of my own boutique but I want to be a consistent supplier of fabric.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?

I would tell myself to start earlier with clothing.

What do you do in your free time?

Gym. We make it a family outing and most times go to the gym as a family.

It’s important to stay healthy and I am blessed that my family enjoys staying fit and is something we bond over. I haven’t been for about a lapse of 6 months but I’ve recently started going back and hopefully I get back into the habit of it.

What are some comments that you’ve received that sound like compliments but are actually insults?

I don’t normally focus of the nega­tives so I’m not really one to go there. It’s all about positivity for me.

If you could choose only one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would be a Lionel Richie song.

Any Advice for aspiring and young designers?

It’s not easy. It’s not a matter of ‘just designing’.

When you’re younger, you’re a bit more elaborate with your designs but something that I have learnt in my experience is that yes, extreme­ly elaborate and artsy designs would turn heads on the runway, but you also need to be a bit more mature about your designs and look at the commercial viability of your designs.

At the end of the day, you want to sell your garments and not shoving it in your closet after cause no one would wear it. It’s about finding the right balance.

PATE’ by Alipate Sowane

We are extremely excited to fea­ture Alipate in our lineup of de­signers for the festival.

He will not only be showcasing his first ever solo collection, but he is using the platform to launch his la­bel ‘PATE’.

His collection is inspired by an au­tobiographical comic strip which he has been working on for the past five years mapping out the difficul­ties he has faced ‘fitting in’ while growing up.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’m a nursing student believe it or not, and I’m in my final year, but I guess you can say that fashion has always been my “thing”.

I’ve entered a number of student designer show competitions, but my biggest step into the fashion world was starting work at the House of Design, which has ultimately led to my involvement with the Fijian Fashion Festival, and the launch of my label “Pate” this year.

How did you first get interested in Fashion?

Fashion has always been a form of escape for me in life. It’s my chosen artistic form of expression.

What is the most exciting thing you are look­ing forward to at the Bottega Gold Fijian Fash­ion Festival as a Designer/Label?

This is my launch! It’s a big deal because this is essentially the beginning of my ca­reer and I am scared, excited but ultimately I can’t wait to actually see my pieces on that runway.

What is your definition of fashion?

Fashion to me is a form of escape, it gives you the freedom to be whoever you want to be and to present yourself in whatever way you chose, free of the preconceived ideas of what a person should be.

What motivates you as a fashion designer?

As a designer, I am motivated by people that don’t have a place in society. I want the clothes that I design to be a representative of who I am and hopefully, they can be a repre­sentative of other people out there.

How do you stay up-to-date with fashion?

Working at The House of Design has really opened up a lot of doors for me. The shop allows me to be around some of the best de­signers, stylists, photographers, and models in Fiji.

Where do you see yourself/your brand in 10 years time?

In the next ten years, I see myself selling out of one the local fashion boutiques in Suva.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?

I would tell myself to not be afraid of being myself and not to worry about what others opinions are.

The right people will see you and recognise your hard work.

What drew you to show your designs at the Fijian Fashion Festival?

The Fijian Fashion Festival stands for a lot of things that I believe in as a young person and to launch my official label with the festi­val is simply an honour for me.

What do you do in your free time?

I’m usually in school or clinical placements, apart from that I’m at the House of Design working or hanging out with my friends.

What are some comments that you’ve received that sound like compliments but are actually insults?

“I like your hair”

“The way he dresses is………… interesting”

“I like your shoes”

If you could choose only one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

‘Livin’ La vida loca’ by Ricky Martin.

I just really like it; and I really like Ricky Martin.

The person that he is singing about is the person I’d like to be in the future.

Any Advice for aspiring and young designers?

When you want something, you have to put yourself out there and go and get it.

You can’t sit and wait for things to happen.

Be a go-getter, never try to impress people by changing yourself, be the version of your­self that you love.

Come and ‘Witness the Revolution’ at the inaugural Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Fes­tival, Fiji’s first consumer-trade platform. The Festival will be held on June 1 and 2 at the home of the Festival, the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

Source: Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival


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