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Never Give Up When Pursuing Career: Artist

Stay true to yourself, and al­ways be open to learn more. So says local fashion designer Rosie Emberson-Semisi. “Work hard and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody
27 Apr 2018 11:00
Never Give Up When Pursuing Career: Artist
Rosie Emberson (right) and a model during the 2016 Fiji Fashion week. Photo: Fiji Fashion Week

Stay true to yourself, and al­ways be open to learn more. So says local fashion designer Rosie Emberson-Semisi.

“Work hard and never give up on your dreams, even when nobody else believes they can come true but you,” Mrs Semisi said.

“These are not clichés but real tools you need no matter what you do in life to stay focused on your path,” she said.

“Regardless your education back­ground and otherwise you can be­come what you want to be if you are determined.

“It means a lot of sacrifice, read­justment, trials and errors but at the end of the tunnel there will be something for you.”

Mrs Semisi is no stranger to the Fiji Fashion industry, having featured in almost every fashion shows in Fiji since the 1980s and has been a seamstress, artist, designer, consultant and an educator since.

Known for her prints and arts to celebrate the Pacific lifestyle, for Ms Semisi-Emberson art came nat­urally to her.

She has achieved formal qualifica­tions in apparel and textiles as well as in visual arts and fabric printing.

There has not been a fashion show in Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand that had a Pacific theme, which did not include her.

She has achieved it all, made uni­forms for the Fiji Army, delegations, produced fashion shows and helped grow other labels.

Married to the late chief magis­trate John Semisi, Rosie’s life was busy on all accounts, with her work at the Fiji Development Bank and of a mother to five.

Rosie faced personal calamity with the loss his husband and her art understandably become lower priority.

A few months ago, she decided to set up a factory at Vatuwaqa to sell her designs and prints to the public.

“It was to be my come back collec­tion, my best work ever. The come­back collection was based on Fiji’s cultural tattoos, a practice quite common in my Malha’a native in Rotuma.

“While working on my new col­lection, I have done quite a lot of research into our cultural art prac­tices especially tattooing and the link to other Pacific countries.

“I found out that actually there’s very little pure Rotuman blood left in Rotuma, we seem to be in the mid­dle of Rotuma and carry blood and relationships with various other parts of Polynesia.

“In fact my own people of Malha’a have very strong links to Tahiti; our earliest settlers may have come from there.

Ms Emberson-Semisi said tattoo designs in her new line now carry that story and more.

“We were something of a stopover point for a lot of the ancient sea­farers so if you research slowly, you will find difficulty locating Rotumans with pure Rotuman blood. We have Tahitian, Tongan, Samoan, Wallis and Futuna and even Fiji.

“We have myths and legends that tell of a sister that Lutunasobasoba had who was left on Rotuma. So our tattoo designs tell of these great links.

“Tattoo designs are not mere body art to me but rather a personal re­flection of the events of my life, the journey I have taken which have changed me as a person and as a designer. The tragedies which have occurred and the way they have af­fected my life,” she said.

The TuSake, DiLisi labels are a play on her children’s names (Sake and Alice) and are her children’s wear collection.

“It has been a very personal jour­ney for me because I have gone back to studying Rotuman lineage and history right back to the 1500s, I have had to do a lot of research into my own background and my tradi­tion and culture,” she said.

“So much has happened in my life, personal tragedies etc. which have changed my outlook on life and it are probably reflected in my de­sign style and prints and I just hope people will appreciate this as some­thing new,” she said.

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