A Pacific history: Samoan Afa and Papua New Guinea shell jewellery

Commonwealth Fashion Council

Explore the story of designer Afa Ah Loo from Samoa and find out how he came to create his look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, 2018. 

The Exchange: Samoa x Papua New Guinea
For The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018, designer Afa Ah Loo exchanged with Margie Keates and Ofeira Asuao to create a look that celebrates traditions in both Samoa and Papua New Guinea. The look was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 2018, and later moved to the Australian High Commission, London, where it was open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.
Samoa: Designer Afa Ah Loo 
Afa Ah Loo was born in the Independent state of Samoa, where he grew up and spent most of his life. He was first introduced to fashion and sewing by his late mother Amioga, who he refers to as a very kind, happy and stylish woman. He has been a fashion designer for several years now and is passionate about making women feel beautiful, and also confident in their own skin. He has shown his designs at Fiji Fashion Week, LA Fashion Week, Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, Utah Fashion Week and Pacific Runway to name a few. He was also selected as the winner of the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show 2017 and has been published in many fashion magazines.

Afa Ah Loo drawing his sketch for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, 2018

Illustration of the look

The story behind the look
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. 

Papua New Guinea Necklace

The look was 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.

Flower embellishments

Handmade flower embellishments created by Margie Keates of The Lovely Avenue, completing Afa Ah Loo's look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

Final look on display at Buckingham Palace, 19 February 2018

Final look on display at the Australian High Commission, London, 22 February 2018

Credits: Story

This content has been specifically curated for the Google Arts & Culture platform on behalf of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition that launched on the 19th of February at Buckingham Palace in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.

The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, with the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.

More information about the images is available by clicking on them.
Read more about the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at http://eco-age.com/commonwealth-fashion-exchange/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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