Student fashion show

WHAT started as an initiative to expose secondary school students to fashion design more than eight years ago has grown into Fiji’s largest and most-anticipated student fashion show.

The show started with humble origins at the 2009 Fiji Fashion Week at Albert Park. There were nine designers and 15 people in the audience. Today the show attracts at least 45 designers and 180 models.

The Fiji Fashion Week Student Show is one of the highlights of the annual fashion week calendar.

Students from across Fiji are invited on to the main runway to showcase a capsule collection of four garments that are designed to meet the selection criteria created by Fiji Fashion Week.

The fours looks are — one traditional sulu or salwar kameez; two day dresses and one streetwear.

The show avoids creating evening wear as this is a genre that is really well represented in the industry.

“Creating a sulu or salwar kameez, helps to keep the interest and understanding of our traditional garments alive and it is a core requirement of participating in the show — that, and the need to include your own print on the garments.

“It is important that these fledgling designers understand our traditional garments and decorative techniques as well as creating more contemporary designs. We have included these elements to keep our traditions alive.”

Fashion is about collections — taking concepts and inspiration and turning them into garments.

Collections take a theme or inspiration and work that into all the looks through creating little signature elements that, when pieces are together on the runway or in the store, show the story of that inspiration.

Established designers usually create major collections of up to 100 individual pieces.

This allows buyers to make their selection of what will be in the boutiques in the coming season.

Creating four garments helps the young designers to understand how to build a collection, and while it is a challenge, the students achieve this well.

“What I love about it is that I get to design and show my creativity,” says former student designer Kess Baleirara, who is looking forward to debuting on the FJFW runway in May.

Kess first entered the Student Show in 2014 and has continued to play an active role behind the scenes, gaining valuable knowledge on fabrics, garment care and assisting local and international designers as they prepare for the runway.

The FJFW Student Show has been the impetus for a number of Fiji’s upcoming designers.

Designer Rowie Lal debuted her first collection as a Student Designer in 2011, and went on to debut her first collection as an Emerging Designer at FJFW last year.

The 2016 Student Designer of the Year, Laisiasa Davetawalu has gone on to complete his Certificate III in Applied Fashion from the APTC and is about to venture to Australia to intern with the international label Kookaii.

This year’s show is going to take the students to a totally new level.

The show is being produced by Nicholas Huxley, one of Australia’s leading fashion educators, designer and the FJFW Ambassador in Australia. He is crafting a runway event that has never been seen before in Fiji.

Two of the student designers from previous years are helping to organise the event — Tepora Bola and Seci Burese.

These young designers are bringing their experiences in the show to the team at Fiji Fashion Week and they will be an excellent connection to the designers themselves (as well as gaining experience that will eventually lead them to take up designer relations roles in other events).

Both Tepora and Seci are excited to be working with, and learning from, Nicholas as he brings his wealth of knowledge and talent to assist with the event.

“My purpose in inviting Nicholas to assist with all aspects of Fiji Fashion Week is to support the ongoing growth of the industry.

Fiji Fashion Week has contributed significantly to expanding the base of fashion knowledge and skills in this country and I am committed to continuing to do that.

“Fiji Fashion Week has provided so many opportunities for individuals to gain experience in all facets of the sector.

“I don’t think we are at the stage of ‘knowing it all’ and even if we did — learning is a lifelong skill and there is much to be learnt from someone with as much experience as Nicholas,” says Ellen Whippy-Knight.

Tepora has offered some tips to designers wanting to take part in the show:

* Be prepared to take risks in your designs. Follow your passion for design and creativity. Being prepared to design something new and fresh is what makes you unique as a designer

* Carefully manage your budget for the show — designing is a business as well as think about how you can fundraise to build the finances to produce your collection.

* Find a reliable and professional tailor who will create the results that you want.

The FJFW Student Show will be on Saturday May 26, 2018 at the FMF Gymnasium.

This is a free show being presented in association with the Fashion Designers Alliance of Fiji.

* More information is available from info@fijifashionweek.com.fj

Students wanting to register for the event should do so online at www.fijifashionweek.com.fj/studentshow