Thank you TP!
Click here to watch the story on TRUE SOUTH on TV3′s 6pm News, aired on Saturday 5 May:
Lissy Cole // I LOVE LISSY
Born and raised in Auckland, Lissy and her seven sisters are the daughters of noted New Zealand fashion designer, Colin Cole. Also Ngāti Hine and Ngāti Kahu proud, Lissy was bought up in a household of creative, passionate, intellectual and expressive people. Through her strong paternal bond, she started sewing at a young age. At 15, the grief of losing her father changed her life profoundly; gaining weight, Lissy started to design and sew clothes that reflected her own sense of style and circumstances.
In 2011, Lissy launched her new clothing label, I Love Lissy with its initial line of mumu or t-shirt dresses, shrugs and accessories. I Love Lissy is the product of 25 years of sewing and designing, meeting and connecting with customers and always reflecting the designer’s values of living a colourful, bold, passionate and expressive life.
I Love Lissy is a fun and vibrant brand steeped in a serious agenda to enable plus-size women to feel fabulous in their own skin and resist the temptation to hide away in black.
Follow the I Love Lissy blog for regularly updated insights into Melissa’s inspirations and ideas, links to events and TradeMe listings!
Rachael Duval // RAMADU
Of Samoan, Māori and European descent, Rachael Duval has been designing her own clothes since she was a teenager. Her design journey started in response to the lack of options for plus-size clothing; she started to create her own looks and has since completed a Diploma of Fashion Technology through New Zealand Fashion Tech.
Hip hop and R&B music, punk and goth influences shaped her style growing up in Mangere, South Auckland in the 1990s. The collection showcased at True South from Rachael’s newly established label, RAMADU, represents inspiration from female hip-hop artists Aaliyah and TLC – models of strong, independent women with fierce individual style.
Passionate about serving and celebrating the plus-size market, Rachael advocates for the need for the fashion industry to realise the prevalence of this underappreciated and underserviced market. Working part-time in plus-size retail, she understands intimately the rare and sincere sense of satisfaction when clothes look good and fit.
Keep up to date with Rachael’s developments via the RAMADU Facebook page!
Tasha Lee // RASTA LEE CLOTHING
Tasha Lee is a proud South Aucklander with firm roots in Otara. With extensive experience constructing clothing, Tasha established her business in 2007 with two foundation labels: Miss Tasha Lee and Rasta Lee Clothing. Creating clothing that makes women feel confident and beautiful is important, particularly in celebrating curves and plus-size proportions.
Rasta Lee Clothing is founded on a love for reggae music and its heartfelt following here in New Zealand. Red represents blood, that which connects and sustains every human; green represents the earth, and gold represents desired treasures. Tasha likens the celebration of reggae music and culture to that of Pacific and Māori communities where family and community is central. Comfort and versatility is high on the agenda for Rasta Lee Clothing – Tasha emphasises the ease of transitioning her garments from day to night.
With one successful fashion show already under her belt, Tasha is excited to launch her full range for Rasta Lee Clothing as part of True South. Find her on Facebook to keep up to date with events and new designs!
Paula Chan is a renowned fashion designer with over 30 years experience specialising in Polynesian traditional and contemporary design. Infusing a Samoan aesthetic into wedding and evening gowns, Paula is also known for her inspired taupou costumes.
Her impressive portfolio includes garments that have featured in beauty pageants in New Zealand, Australia, United Statesand around the Pacific. Paula also has works in the permanent collections of Te Papa Tongarewa and Auckland Museum.
A veteran of Style Pasifika, Villa Maria Cult Couture and the Benson & Hedges Fashions Awards, Paula’s designs always accentuate the feminine form in all shapes and sizes.
Czarina Wilson has been a regular name on the Pacific competitive fashion circuit since the late 1990s. With awards and recognition for entries in ‘Traditionally Inspired’, ‘Recycled Revolution’, ‘Streetwear’ and ‘Hero’ categories, Czarina has become known for her immaculate handwork and unique and innovative use of weaving and vinyl.
For competition, Czarina creates stunning and bold statement pieces leaning more towards wearable art. In a more functional capacity, she creates gowns and formal wear that emphasise comfort and Pacific references. She held a solo exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara in 2010 entitled Plastic, exploring the use of man-made materials and vinyl and also the culturally-specific idea of being ‘plastic’.
We’re giving away a VIP package to TRUE SOUTH – the premier event of the South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit on Friday 4 May!
ONE LUCKY WINNER AND TWO MATES WILL BE V.I.Ps ON THE NIGHT, ENJOYING COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS, DRINKS AND FRONT ROW SEATS WITH THE DESIGNERS!!
That’s front row seats to watch collections by 5 EXCELLENT plus-size designers, 3 AMAZING dance crews, a New Zealand Idol winner and the ONE AND ONLY Bella Kalolo!! #BOOM!!
SPREAD THE WORD AND GET SNAPPIN’!
Let us know what you’re wearing too – add a description like Ema’s example below:
This is my favourite “THAT GIRL FROM SOUTH AUCKLAND” T-shirt by Jacob Su’a, blue Lycra mini custom made by Lissy Cole, fluro leg warmers from American Apparel, Havaiana’s Jandals (as always), the super size hibiscus from King Kong and my new best friend, my Mongolian wool stole from David Lawrence.”
YOU GOTTA BE IN IT TO WIN IT!!
What OTHER Poly-FABULOUS female performer could we POSSIBLY have perform at TRUE SOUTH but the GORGEOUS, the Poly-FABULOUS Bella Kalolo!!!
Bella Kalolo and special guest Rosita Vai will bring some serious soul to this special event. TRUE SOUTH is a one-of-a-kind fashion show with a twist, celebrating the big, the tall, the Poly-Fabulous!
Showcasing plus-size collections from Melissa Cole’s “I Love Lissy” label, Miss Tasha Lee will launch her new ‘RastaLee’ line. Rachael Phyllis Gabor Duval debuts her exciting new collection and special plus-size collections from Paula Chan, Czarina Wilson and Visesio Louis Thomsen will also premier at the event!
Audiences will be entertained by some of our finest Pacific dancers including Ura Tabu’s Pacific Me Barbies, Deelicious Dance Crew, Tatau and choreographer Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French will present her recent work, Pacific Muse.
Sultry and soulful performances by Rosita Vai and Bella Kalolo bring together of what promises to be a night to remember.
Tickets are selling fast so don’t miss out.
- Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku or online at EventFinder
- Cash Bar
Weekly Summit Interviews are an opportunity to get to know the artists behind the Pacific Arts Summit…
Headlining the entertainment at TRUE SOUTH, the Pacific Arts Summit’s premier event is Pacific Muse - a beautiful dance work choreographed by Otara-based Cook Island choreographer and dancer, Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French.
- Tickets for TRUE SOUTH are $20 and available for purchase at Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku or on EventFinder.co.nz
Tell us a bit about yourself… how long have you been choreographing, what are your inspirations and why do you do what you do?
I was born and raised on the tiny island of Aitutaki, and this is what gives me my drive, inspiration and grounding for everything I do in my life. I have been dancing and performing since I could walk, and so since joining Anuanua (Auckland-based Cook Island dance troupe) it has allowed me to explore movements and put them into practice. I would say I have been choreographing for almost eight years, and in the early years, it has been restricted within the Cook Island community and for Anuanua Dance Troupe.
The ‘tamure’ (Cook Islands dance) is something that is part of me, its ‘innate’ and it was something my mother and her mother before her did. We did not have proper training as they do now and with other dance genres, instead, we put on a pareu (sarong/lavalava) or a purou (grass skirt) and would just move, to the music, the drums and, to our feelings. That is what inspires me and I do it most probably because I cannot live without it. I have had ‘time-off’ during my dance life, for studying purposes, or to have a baby but I always felt incomplete, it is a part of my life, and I cannot deny its place in me. So I was back into it six weeks after giving birth. I do what I do because it makes me whole has it allows me to reconnect with the past the present and definitely the future.
TRUE SOUTH is a special event in the Pacific Arts Summit programme, speaking to, for and about a hugely under-represented sector of our community, plus size women. Your piece, Pacific Muse, is concerned with the Pacific body – can you tell us about the piece?
I wanted to incorporate different modes of traditional and contemporary Cook Islands dance to create an overall body of work which explores and challenges Western-colonial notions and representations of Pacific bodies. Particularly, the stereotypes and images of the ‘Dusky Maiden’ and the ideas surrounding a highly exoticised Pacific ‘feminine mystique’.
Pacific Muse focuses on the ‘white construct’ of Cook Island dance and the reclamation of the dance as a cultural possession that needs to be protected from further misinterpretation. What the dance therefore aims to achieve is to recreate an alternative position to the dance form and most important the pre-conceived perception of Pacific women. I would like to promote our dance as a way of socio-cultural expression; a reflection of everyday life entwined into a political action and challenge.
You are a true-blue Southsider, where did you grow up and what do you love about the Southside?
As we all know, Otara is the capital of the Cook Islands, so it was only natural that I can confirm that when my family and I moved to New Zealand in the late 90’s, Otara became home! It’s almost home away from home. I love Southside because of its colours! The colours of the different cultures and ethnicities, the colourful nature of the people and the surrounding! It is truly is an exciting place to grow up in.
What are your creative plans moving forward and how can people connect with you and follow your practice?
I plan to continue developing Pacific Muse and hopefully in the future be able to put it on as a full show. I would also love to take it internationally. I am still actively part of Anuanua Dance Troupe and therefore actively involved in the Cook Islands community. I can be contacted by email or follow me on Facebook for updates, dance projects or for some awesome randomness in Cook Islands dance.
- Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French was one of three choreographers selected for the 2011 Pacific Dance Choreographic Labratory where the work Pacific Muse was first developed under the mentorship of well-known dancer and artistic director, Neil Ieremia.
- Pacific Dance New Zealand is holding their annual Fono on Saturday 19 May as part of the Pacific Arts Summit, click here to find out more.
URA TABU Pacific Dance Company are performing as part of TRUE SOUTH on Friday 4 May – our ground-breaking premier event for the 2012 Pacific Arts Summit!
Check out URA TABU on Fresh [TVNZ]
Also performing as part of TRUE SOUTH are Deelicious Dance Crew!
TRUE SOUTH is going to be THE HOTNESS!
TRUE SOUTH tickets are on sale NOW but are strictly limited! Get in quick to avoid disappointment!! Tickets can be purchased from Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku or on EventFinder.co.nz
The 2012 Pacific Arts Summit programme folds out to a A2 poster and it’s out now!
TRUE SOUTH tickets + The Early Bird Special
- Buy tickets online here or from Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku before FRIDAY 6 APRIL. After this date, tickets will be $20 – strictly limited capacity seating – get in QUICK to avoid disappointment!
- Read about TRUE SOUTH fashion designer Lissy Cole here
- We’re still accepting Expressions of Interest for our call for Poly-Fabulous plus-size models! Read more here!
Win on Facebook
We’ll be launching a Facebook competition this weekend to win a special V.I.P TRUE SOUTH experience! One lucky winner and two mates will be treated to pre-show drinks + refreshments, front row seats and goody bags!! Find us on Facebook and keep it locked for details!
WELCOME to a series of quick interviews with the designers presenting collections in our premier Summit event, TRUE SOUTH taking place on Friday 4 May at Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku!
First up is LISSY COLE of I Love Lissy
Tell us a bit about yourself… how long have you been designing clothes, what are your inspirations and why do you do what you do?
My name is Lissy Cole. I am a 40 year old mum and now nana. I am Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu proud. I am the youngest of eight girls and was born into a household of creative, passionate, intellectual and expressive people. My father was New Zealand’s leading fashion designer, which is where I get my love of fashion and more importantly, my love of people from. I have vivid memories of going into his salon with him as a child on a Sunday, where it would just be me and him. I would tutu with all his sparkly shiny baubles and play with his fabrics while he worked hard at his business. He would leave me to it, which I loved. I adored being with him in his world. We had a very strong connection and that’s when I started sewing, first for my dolls and then for me.
He died when I was 15 and that was when I started putting on weight. The grief I felt was immense and the only way i knew how to cope was to eat. As I got bigger, I became more and more desperate to make clothes that expressed who I was. There was nothing in the shops at all when I was a teenager. It was hell.
So, I slowly but surely taught myself how to sew and design and over these last 25 years, I have been sewing and honing my own sense of style.
Can you describe your style?
My style is definitely colourful, bold, passionate, expressive… out there! I don’t believe in hiding away in black because I’m a big girl.I believe in owning who you are, rocking it, and making the most of who you are no matter what you look like. Life is so incredibly short so to hate yourself and hide away is such a waste of precious time.
TRUE SOUTH is a special event in the Pacific Arts Summit programme, speaking to, for and about a hugely under-represented sector of society: plus size women. Have you ever been a part of anything like this before, and how important is it to highlight and celebrate this community?
Being a part of TRUE SOUTH is an extremely awesome thing. Plus size fashion is practically non existent worldwide. We are a neglected market in the fashion game and it is definitely something I am passionate about. My customers also feel the frustration acutely. There is such a lack of funky expressive clothing in the market place, and although times are certainly better in terms of more variety of labels that are finally stocking plus size, most only go to a size 24….the over 24’s are even more neglected.
Times are also changing in terms of fat positivity and fat activsm. More and more people are challenging the status quo of what is regarded ‘beautiful’ and being renegades in the world of fashion, beauty, health. There are growing communities of plus size women who are saying to the world, I’m fat, and what? I am who I am…and I’m loving all of this!….I absolutely subscribe to this philosophy. We all have our struggles in life, No one person is perfect and no matter the size, women especially generally hate parts of themselves and even their whole self. I have come to a place of owning all that I am, fat and all… It is only one dimension of who I am, and it does not dictate how I feel about myself. When you own who you are in life, everyone around you can’t help but own it too….That’s powerful!
My philosophy is simple, Love it, Own it, Lissy it..
That… is FANTASTIC!! How can people buy your clothes and engage with I LOVE LISSY?
- Read more about Melissa’s journey – grief, education, love and heartbreak (Sunday News, 5 August 2011)
- Buy tickets for TRUE SOUTH here!
- Read more about the TRUE SOUTH event here
More TRUE SOUTH Designer interviews coming soon – watch this space!!
TRUE SOUTH is the first event of the 2012 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit. It takes place on Friday 4 May and tickets will be available soon!
This logo was designed by Edgar Melitao at The Kitchen Media – Edgar has created the look and feel of the Pacific Arts Summit for the past three years. Check out our Facebook page to see the evolution of the PAS brand and let us know what you think!
Tickets are limited – get in quick!!