Young fashion designer, Samal Singh has an impressive following in Fiji fashion, and has already made quite a name for himself, after winning the 'Most Promising Designer of the Year' at FJFW 2011, a fete that took him to Melbourne for an internship at KOOKAI Australia and which should prove evident at this year's event.
Entitled "Sultry Siren" and showing in the Evening Wear category, Samal's new line comprises 15 evening styles for the woman who wants to be admired.
Motivated by fresh ideas out of his Kookai experience, Samal said his lineup for this year will reflect a "new willingness for fashion which has given me more energy to bring out innovative ideas and designs."
The interesting thing about Samal is that, fashion was never an ambition.
A little pushing and encouragement from his friends and family got him into the 2009 Fiji Fashion show. Although he didn't win any awards then, the bug had bitten him and there was sowed, his passion for fashion.
"I wanted to be a lawyer. I thought fashion designing could only be in my dreams. As years went by, I started to make some rough sketches, and slowly I got more into it. Fashion became my passion. My friends and families told me to give it a try at the Fiji Fashion Week show 2009; I was hesitant and nervous, so I did not take part in the show. For 2010, my friends and families made sure I took part in the show," Samal said.
"They encouraged me and here I am, enjoying my third year with Fiji Fashion Week. I wish to take my designs to the international platform in future. I believe I need to research more on how to be part of international fashion shows and reach out to the international market with my designs and identity," he explained.
Describing his "Sultry Siren" as something to admire or "the look that you want", Samal said his week long observation at Kookai would shine through the new line. Although he was with Kookai for only a week, Samal described his internship as a truly worthwhile experience.
"I saw first-hand behind the scenes at a very professional level and how they bring out fashion to the streets. On my very first day, after being introduced to the staff and what they did, I was given access to their styles and storyboards to get myself familiar with the famous Kookai look."
"I was working closely with the Kookai designers and observed them brainstorming and discussing the designs in detail."
Samal was exposed to various stages of production including learning how the patterns are made and then later sent to the machine. He was taught to cut the patterns as well as cut out fabric using patterns he had made.
He saw how designs which had been given a lot of effort, were rejected, an experience he said, was refreshing and educational.
"I experienced a whole different atmosphere of fashion in Australia which is truly unforgettable. My collection this year will be very different to what I have done in previous years. The colour and design itself has got details in it. The fabric chosen for the collection is exclusive and will give a very classy look. I was so inspired after my trip to Australia," Samal said.
The young designer hopes "Sultry Siren" will not only appeal to the wider public, but become a fashionista's must-have after FJFW. In practical terms, Samal's goal is to grow out of his Facebook based retail, into shops and major department stores.
"I am very lucky to learn the full spectrum of fashion design process from the design concept and development, to retail presentation and marketing tactics that are used to promote the designs before I prepare for my Fiji Fashion Week show."
Samal said fashion designing was not easy as one needed dedication, and hardwork to survive in the fashion industry. But he advises young people to find something they are willing to do in life and "do not hesitate or feel shy to try out new things in life, as you never know it might turn to suit you well."
* Lice Movono-Rova is a Public Relations Officer for Fiji Fashion Week.