Designer Afa Ah Loo from Somoa was chosen to create a bespoke look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange - an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.
Afa designed his Commonwealth Fashion Exchange gown based on his love of traditional Samoan materials. The gown itself is made using linen for the central section, and a floral print from Afa’s archive, then accessorized with a sash made from the traditional Samoan material Afa, which is a yard/rope made out of coconut husk. The gown features handmade and painted flower embellishments, made by Margie Keates of The Lovely Avenue using recycled paper, and by Ofeira Asuao of AliiRas Backdrops using upycled foam. The look is completed with an original Papua New Guinea curved necklace of brown braided rope, decorated with four bands of cream coloured curled shells. The necklace is fastened by two groups of braided cord bands, each decorated with a small white shell pendant
The project was launched by Commonwealth Secretary General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age and supported by Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.