The 6th annual Pacific Fusion Fashion Show was supposed to be held on February 26th, 2022.
Instead of opting for a virtual show like organisers of the event did in 2020 to combat the pandemic restrictions, the founder of PFFS Nora Swann has decided that a delayed in-person show is worth the wait.
Although the new date has not been announced yet, the anticipation continues to grow. This excitement is particularly prevalent for Whitecliffe School of Fashion + Sustainability student, sewing tutor and model Alexandra Simpson who was handpicked to showcase her emerging namesake fashion line at the highly anticipated event.
At an early age, Alexandra (who goes by Ali) was inspired to pursue and participate in fashion design. She daydreamed about her work being showcased in runway fashion shows. This inspiration quickly turned into motivation, and she began her tertiary fashion studies as soon as she could.
After trying out fashion studies at another tertiary education provider, Ali left because the school and course did not feel right for her. Still eager to pursue her passion, she visited Whitecliffe and met some welcoming staff who eased her nerves, doubts, and concerns. “Fashion can be quite intimidating, I thought, if I’m going back into this world [of studying fashion], I want to be at the right school and with the right people,” she reflects. Her visit to Whitecliffe College refreshed her dream, and she enrolled in The Whitecliffe School of Fashion + Sustainability. “The lecturers are very supportive and want to help you get where you want to be,” she says.
Ali completed the Certificate in Fashion + Technology (Patternmaking) programme in 2021. There is a heavy focus on learning the techniques of pattern and garment structure, and because of this, those studying the programme don’t generally display their work in an end of year fashion show. Instead, the end of year fashion show is an integral and iconic part of the Diploma and Bachelor level Fashion + Sustainability programmes that may be pursued following the completion of the Certificate. But now, thanks to the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, Ali won’t have to wait to make this runway dream a reality. “I think it’s important to take initiative in life, and if opportunities come to you, take them because who’s to say you can’t do something earlier than you thought you could?” Ali says.
The theme for the 2022 Pacific Fusion Fashion Show is ‘Woven’, which will celebrate and display the integration of fashion, creativity, and culture. As a young Māori and Niuean designer, Ali’s work for the upcoming fashion show is inspired by her own journey through life as an indigenous woman. Speaking proudly and emotionally about her roots in relation to her fashion line, Ali says, “It’s my dream, but it’s also paying homage to who I am and my ancestry.”
Ali looks back on her time already spent at Whitecliffe positively. Most of her favourite memories at Whitecliffe consist of community-focused moments, especially the end of year fashion show where she gets to witness creativity and talent from students in the Fashion + Sustainability diploma and programmes above her, as well as getting involved and modelling some of their designs too. Work experience that Ali’s Whitecliffe programme offered her has also been a stand-out moment for her. Interning for Maggie Marilyn helped her gain confidence, and her ever growing courage is one of the most valuable traits that she has gained throughout her Whitecliffe journey so far. “Work experience gives you the opportunity to connect with people in the industry,” she says. “It opened that door of realising that I can do this, I can talk to people and make connections that will help my career.”
Whitecliffe’s School of Fashion + Sustainability emphasises the importance of ethical practices, and Ali is completely on board. “In five years, I want to have my own sustainable brand, or be working for some sustainable designers who I really admire like Stella McCartney” she says. It is clear these values have made their mark on her, and will continue to do so throughout her inevitably successful career.
Ali offered some encouraging advice for aspiring Māori and Pasifika fashion designers. “Just go for it,” she says, “as humans, we can all feel discouraged from doing the things we want to do in life, but at Whitecliffe our lecturers are very supportive and want to help you get to where you want to be, so take the leap, you will have a lot of support!”
As for how she interprets Whitecliffe’s ‘Create Meaningful Change’ message, Ali says, “I think creating meaningful change is taking into awareness what you’re creating and the impact that it has on the environment, humans and culture. It’s about asking who do I want to impact? How can I use this to better the lives of all of us?”
You can find out more about studying at the Whitecliffe School of Fashion + Sustainability here.
Photo credit Karyna.es (Instagram)
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