21 September 2012



A CELEBRATION of all things Pasifika; our music, our dance, our clothes and our passion for colourful island fashion is what the audience will join when they walk into Fiji Fashion Week once it opens in Suva on 18th October.

A mere fashion show it is not. Opening night will be one big Pacific party, if the Oceania Centre for Arts & Culture (OCAC), the University of the South Pacific’s performing arts arm, has anything to do with the fifth year of Fiji Fashion Week (FJFW).

Entitled ‘Tribe Echoes of the Pacific’ opening night is designed to be a fusion of island fashion, song, dance and raw South Pacific passion for culture. 

Now quite famed for their original scores and powerful pacific theatrical productions, the OCAC’s Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices join forces on Thursday October 18 to provide fashionistas and party revelers alike a feast of the eyes and ears, USP Head of Performing Arts Igelese Ete said.

Ete, who has worked on a range of productions right up to Hollywood movie Lord of the Rings has contributed to a dramatic increase in appreciation for the performing arts in Fiji. Tasked with composing large scale choral productions for the Pacific Games, the Rugby World Cup (NZ 2011), Style Pasifika Fashion Show (NZ); singers under this Samoan choirmaster’s tutelage tend to shine with some of the golden dust of his success.  Ete is a regular judge in singing and performance competitions and shows in Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand.

Peter Rockford Espiritu, the Artistic Director of the Oceania Dance Theatre has served as Founder and Executive & Artistic Director of Tau Dance Theater, Hawai‘i’s critically acclaimed professional modern dance company.  Mr. Espiritu has the distinguished privilege of being the only professional western form dance company based in Hawai‘i directed by a native Polynesian.

In 2011, Mr. Espiritu was Co-Director and Choreographer for AULANI, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii which also is quite famous for being the first “destination” resort built by Disney in the world that focuses on indigenous culture and art.

The USP website describes Mr Espiritu as having ‘created a large body of work and has garnered many awards.

“He is proficient in Ballet, Hula, and Modern Dance (Limon’ Technique), and has danced and taught globally.  Internationally Mr. Espiritu choreographs and teaches in Nagoya & Tokyo Japan for the past 10 years and has performed in Italy, Guatemala, Bali, Mexico, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Polynesia,“ the USP website said.

“The topics and ideas that Mr. Espiritu has chosen to be the impetus of his many dances include: mixing of cultures, native spirituality, responsible fusion and cultural evolution, and global village awareness.”

OCAC, is an all-in-one package of costume, song and dance and makes for exciting event entertainment. The choreography of the event will be handled by internationally renowned Artistic Director, Peter Espiritu. Fashion is apparently a natural extension of what these talented young people can do.

 “Fashion is a major part of the performing arts, and Pasifika Voices have within our own ranks talented fashion designers such as Fumaru Fatiaki and Epeli Tuibeqa.  Fumaru is our main costume/wardrobe facilitator and he is a major part of creative team.” Ete said.

 “For Pasifika Voices it's not just about the singing. The visual presentation is extremely important for us - so that we enhance the message, emotion, meaning and concept of the songs or production via fashion to give maximum impact to the audience.” 

 “We will be singing alongside our dance counterparts who are under the great artistic directorship of Peter Espiritu. We have a great synergy and relationship between the two groups and were also part of the Pacific Arts Festival as the only non-country delegation to be invited.”

 “It is always about inspiring the audience through Pacific music and also dance that is innovative, dynamic and exciting.”

The culture at Pasifika Voices is built on the excellent being normal, an organizational character trait that makes the group an easy fit into FJFW.

 “It is about not being complacent in what we've done, to continually aim to be better at what we do, to innovate and create something new and maybe different that will add value to our community. Not to settle for second best and not to be addicted to mediocrity. There is so much talent in Fiji that we want to show the world, that we can also be world class in our music especially Fijian/Pacific. We always try to ensure that excellence for us is the norm, not the exception and it has to be planned as excellence doesn’t happen by accident.”

Ellen Whippy-Knight, Managing Director of FJFW said the Pacific followers of the event continued to go from strength to strength with the continuous presence of big names like TAV (of the Princess Kate Middleton dress fame) and MENA gracing the Suva runways. Tribe Echoes of the Pacific at FJFW 2012 will be the first time for a separate day specifically for designers with a Pacific wear focus.

 “Each year the Pacific show is a category in one of the days at FJFW. Suva is the hub of the Pacific, and who better in the region to take on the role of pulling the frontiers of fashion to the islands. Our Pacific fashion is unique, it is colourful, it is loud, it is proud, it is bold, it is beautiful and is quite unlike anything else offered at the fashion week events in other parts of the world,” Ms Whippy-Knight.

 “In planning 2012, we were mindful, that like the character and spirit of our islands, Tribe Echoes of the Pacific needed to be a celebration of not just fashion but also of our cultures so the Oceania Center was the natural partner to make that happen with.”

On the runway at of Echoes of the Pacific; Robert Kennedy whose fame is spreading across the region after debuting his ‘Kainona’ collection at the Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands in July. Inspired by Melanesian artefacts, the bold earthy prints of his designs are quickly becoming popular in Suva.

The closing act is none other than late but sure inclusion, TAV by Ellena Tavioni, the Rarotonga design house behind the dress which created worldwide fashion history this week after the Duchess of Cambridge and wife to the second in line to British Throne, Princess Kathryn Middleton discarded a London frock in its favour.

To spice up the competition and satisfy local palettes for the exotic, FJFW have successfully lured designers from India and Nigeria. At the generosity of the Embassy of France in Suva, Kathryn Pradeau from Paris and Wallis & Futuna designer Fine Tokavahua will also show exciting collections on the night.

When asked how one produces music and dance to fuse the various Pacific cultures and those outside it which will be on display at Echoes of the Pacific, Igelese Ete said the OCAC is recognized as the only non-country specific delegation to show at Pacific-wide art festivals so performing a synergy of cultures is already their job description.

“We are looking at works that will enhance the theme of Tribe Echoes of the Pacific, celebrating our unique and diverse Fijian and Pacific heritage. For me it is ensuring that when we sing or dance these songs about the Pacific it's not only about entertaining, it is important that we celebrate all the amazing Pacific traditions and cultural heritage. We're celebrating our Pacific identity, our way of life, history, rituals, traditions and our resilience to the problems which confront us.”

Mr Ete said that when the combined star qualities of the Oceania Dance Theatre and the Pasifika Voices is performing, it is to ensure that when the world gets a insight of what we do in the pacific, they realize that there is something unique about our Pacific cultures that no other culture possesses, and that we can contribute to making a difference in the world.

 “Being proud of our Pacific-ness is extremely important, and FJFW to acknowledge that by creating a special night for Pasifika design is to be highly commended, and having worked with Stan Wolfgramm in NZ for the Style Pasifika Fashion Show - it has the same effect in NZ, turning heads towards the pacific styles showing our unity and also our pacific diversity. So it's very exciting that Ellen Whippy and her company have created a special night for Pasifika Designs,” Mr Ete said. 

 “On behalf of Pasifika Voices and Oceania Dance Theatre from the University of the South Pacific/Oceania Centre for Arts Culture & Pacific Studies, I really want to thank the organizers for inviting us to be a part of such an auspicious occasion, we are looking forward to do our part to making it a amazing night for all those who will be attending and involved.”

 “It is very exciting and will be an event not to be missed.”


For more information, please contact Lice Movono-Rova on +679 9301201/7088819  or email lice@fijifashionweek.com.fj


About FJFW

Fiji Fashion Week is an annual event aiming to foster fashion design and creativity.  Through a series of shows FJFW offers Pacific designers a marketing platform to promote their garments.  FJFW fosters small businesses particularly emerging designers from our Pacific region to become commercially minded.  By supporting FJFW you are supporting these small-business owners.  FJFW is from 18th to 20th October and tickets are available from the Fiji Fashion Week booth on the ground floor of MHCC, by emailing tickets@fijifashionweek.com.fj or by calling Lite on 7088896.


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