By Mike Puia
A dress designed using Solomon Islands material is among dresses that were selected and displayed at the Buckingham Palace in London, United Kingdom.
Australian womenswear designer, Kit Willow, produced this unique dress.
The dress was among those selected to the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange which started last Friday. The Exchange will end this Friday.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange was established to bring together fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills.
According to Kit, there were lots of interests from the public after the design was unveiled.
The interest also comes from TV and Vogue magazine (America’s fashion magazine). The dress was later featured on Australian TV and on Vogue magazine.
In fact, Kit who owned KITX (the company that designed this dress), got the concept of the design from dresses used by contestants of the recent Miss Solomon Islands Pageant.
The dress has a bodice and skirt made from lightweight wool overlaid with a traditional grass skirt and embellished with shell money made by Langa Langa women.
KITX, Kit’s company, connects to local artisans to get the local materials through Pasifik Creations.
Pasifik Creations, owned by Alfred Samasoni, is an online market platform that aims to showcase and promote art and craft produced by pacific artisans and connect them to international companies and buyers.
“We ran around took photos did interviews and bought the craft on behalf of KITX,” Samasoni said.
He said with the help of some locals, Pasifik Creations collected the materials including the shell money.
Shell money has traditional significance in the Solomon Islands. It is also used in dispute resolution and weddings. Making shell money is usually done by women, but men can involve in collecting and polishing the shells.
Samasoni said local artisans should be proud that their traditional craft of shells and grass skirt were selected as part of a modern design involved in this initiative.
“Solomon Island artisans should be aware that the stories and craft involved in the initiative have generated a lot of interest and the international coverage of their craft incorporated and showcased in Buckingham palace alongside other member countries brings a lot of awareness to the capabilities of the local artisan,” Samasoni said.
He said local artisans must know that there is a commonwealth wide initiative now focused on them.
“This exposure and initiative should encourage all local designers and artisans to further their work and know that from this exposure there should be more interest from international companies in their art and craft and design,” Samasoni said.
He said his business will continue to help connect pacific island artisans and designers and local companies to international buyers.