The Designer Looking For Fresh Perspectives

The stage is set for the inaugural Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival taking place next week on June 1-2 at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. This week, the spotlight
27 May 2018 15:48
The Designer Looking For Fresh Perspectives
A model showcasing a design by Rowie Lal. Ms Lal’s designs will feature on both the days of the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival next month

The stage is set for the inaugural Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival taking place next week on June 1-2 at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

This week, the spotlight is on one of the ‘blooming’ designers participating at the festi­val, Rowie Lal.

At this year’s festival, Ms Lal will be show­casing at both the Friday and Saturday night shows under her two labels: ‘Rowie Lal RTW’, her ready to wear street label and ‘Rowie Lal – Bridal’ her bridal line.

We recently had a chat with Ms Lal about her experiences in the local fashion industry and her feelings about showcasing her creations on the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival runway.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

“I am the middle child of a family of five. I’m a mother to one son. My partner Div Damodar is very supportive of my goals and my passion for art and fashion.

My dad is Indian part European, his father is of British descent while my mother is Ro­tuman part Samoan as her mother is from Sa­vaii’, Samoa.

I started off as a collage artist creating con­temporary art and later moved on to placing my art on fabric.

Apart from fashion and art, I design Christ­mas wreaths that I sell as a fundraiser I started in 2016 to help give back, feeding and clothing the homeless every Christmas.

I also do bridal. I ventured into bridal in 2017 when most of my customers suggested I de­sign their wedding dresses and then I started making bridal dresses, veils and selling bridal jewelry.”

How did you first get interested in Fashion?

“I’ve always loved dressing up from such a young age.

Every character parade in primary school was always my favorite occasion.

My mom and her side of the family at that time was into tailoring, my aunts were into making pacific inspired clothing and jewelry and embellishing them with seashells, coco­nuts and all sorts of creative material.

My uncle was into scene painting—they were born artists. Being around them and their cre­ativity made me realise how much attention clothes received when artists with their intri­cate designs have attended it to.

That was my first inspiration into the world of art and fashion. My father on the other hand is a tattoo artist, and a musician. Essen­tially art is in my blood, I would say.”

What is your definition of fashion?

“To me fashion is a way of expressing per­sonal style. Fashion is a statement of my ex­pression.

I can show up at a party in a bold suit to be noticed and I will be noticed. Why? Because I’m expressing what I want and that is fashion.

In most of my designs, my garments are mostly bold, colorful and vibrant.

I love fashion statement clothing because it leaves a huge impression when you walk into a room; and what more to wear it with than confidence.”

What motivates you as a fashion designer?

“New trends, embellishments that sparkle, bold prints with a story behind it, and most of all that exhilarating feeling of having that first model walk up on the runway wearing Rowie Lal.

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

“I read mostly. I’ve subscribed to fashion mag­azines like Bazaar, Vogue, Ragtrader Au, etc.

I also follow the latest news and stories of international designer’s pages on Instagram.”

What are you fascinated by at the moment and does it influence your work?

“I am fascinated by colorful bold prints, yes it’s always the first thing my customers notice when they see my collection.”

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

I answered this question five years ago at a personal development programme that I at­tended and I am exactly where I am five years today; creating collections and sharing my work with you all.

Ten years from now my plans are personal. As far as fashion goes it gets bigger I hope.

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

“I’ve told myself all I needed to know and I am where I need to be.

I’ve set myself up for success and it’s been an incredible journey so far.

Now all I tell myself is keep the right com­pany around, good friends contribute to your mental and emotional balance and good com­pany is key.”

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

Well, I could have started earlier but all good things happen at the right time.

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

“Honestly, I planned to have my own bridal show this year and that was it.

But then we attended the festival launch and it all seemed so exciting.

Exciting in the sense that you have a young person like Faraz Ali running the show, so I thought to myself: Well this is new! I wonder what it would be like to be a part of a show with some fresh perspective to the fashion in­dustry.

So my partner and I decided to give it a go. And so far it’s been great.”

What do you do in your free time?

“I sleep; catch up on sleep so I can function well with fashion ideas that come to mind.

Other then sleep, it’s family time with Div (Damodar) and our son.

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

“If there ever were insults I simply wouldn’t bother.

Sarcasm never seems to be lost on me I tell you—especially from many who have under­estimated my skills as an artist in the line of fashion. I’m thick skinned. What can I say?”

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?

Star boy by the Weekend

Any Advice for aspiring and young designers?

Three things:

Firstly, be real; that is, have your own style. You don’t have to copy anyone else’s and be­lieve in yourself first and then others will. Secondly, do it properly or don’t do it at all. Thirdly, whatever you do you must keep mov­ing forward, welcome change into your life, your business and your fashion sense!

Tickets for the Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion Festival have all sold out, but you can catch the live stream of the shows on the Fashion Council of Fiji Website which will include a ‘Shop Now’ feature where you can buy pieces straight off the runway.


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