Hawaii’s INKED Island Fashion Show closes with tattoo artists

An INKed Island Fashion Show model on the runway showcasing the work of the world’s tattoo artists and the hottest fashion from the island community, at The Waterfront at the Aloha Tower, last December. [photos: Pita Gurr]

(MEDIA RELEASE) – The work of three tufuga, traditional Samoan tattoo artists Su’a Suluape Alaiva’a Petelo, Su’a Peter Suluape and Su’a Suluape Tau Ah Keni closed Hawaii’s first INKED Island Fashion Show that debuted December 2011 at The Waterfront at Aloha Tower.

INKED will show in California this summer.

“The purpose of the INKED Island Fashion Show is to showcase the work of the world’s tattoo artists and the hottest fashion from the island community – all on one runway,” said Ronnie Russell, publisher of 808Ink which presented INKED. “Why tattoos? Over 78 percent of the population in Hawaii has tattoos and tattooing in Hawaii is rich with tradition and culture with strong bloodlines.”

Talents in cutting edge fashion with island flair, t-shirt graphics incorporating Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian and Polynesian designs and tank jerseys representing Samoa, Hawaii, Tonga and various Pacific islands rocked the stage at the historic site. Aloha Tower is likened to New York’s Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants and newcomers to Honolulu Harbor. Special guests from San Diego were Tatau Brand and Selah International.

The tatau, Samoa’s traditional full body tattoo, and the malu, the Samoan traditional tattoo for women, took center stage during the closing by Faletuiga, a Samoan fashion, Siva Samoa and media entity. Faletuiga and its dance group Mitamitaga O Samoa, were founded by choreographer Lorita Achica, 64, of Utulei and Vaimoso.

Tina Mata’afa-Elise, Faletuiga Editor and contributing writer for 808Ink, directed the show which drew the support of Apia-based Lotonu’u Samoa and Hawaii-based, Samoan-owned LaLaLove It Designs; Wadalife! and Kokomoni Shirt Kompani.

FSF Designs (Fa’aseila Vaela’a Fruean), Missing Polynesia (Meilin Vitale Vae) and Masina Imports (Adriana Fuamatu-Ma’afala), Samoan-owned clothing retailers in Hawaii, were among the 11 designers who presented their newest creations on the 32-foot INKED runway.

T-shirt designs by Tatau, Selah, Tapu Clothing & Tattoo, The Mighty Eighty: Eight, Limited Addiction and Hawaii’s Finest graced the INKED catwalk. Le La’ei and Polynesian Creations pulled out of the show due to a family fa’alavelave in Samoa.

Samoan fashion – from the pre-colonial era, to puletasi, to the basic ‘ie lavalava – were showcased by Faletuiga. The ie lavalava is a basic, very intimate part of the Samoan wardrobe, its noted coolness and simplicity perfect for muggy island weather. The ie lavalava (more commonly called a sarong) also plays an integral part in the tatau (while in progress) and during the sama, the ceremonial blessing of a completed tatau and its wearer.

Faletuiga malu models were Moana Achica Manuo, INKED Co-Director Sina Thomsen and Valana Manuma. Soga’imiti who hit the INKED stage were: Vili Pa’ama, Armand Abero, Ira Uiagalelei, Mikaele Oloa, Pogi Tevaga and Ron Tominiko. Mitamitaga O Samoa dancers performed a special number to “O le tatau.” Manuo, Hawaii-born, closed the fashion show portion with a taualuga performed to Felise Mikaele’s “E lo’u loto.”

“The INKED Island Fashion Show was a great experience. We made friends and got to show the arts of Samoa, our dress, our tattoos, our dancing, our music, our culture,” Manuo said. “I love being a young Samoan woman and it gave me great pride to represent Samoa in INKED. The tatau and malu are not ordinary tattoos and because of the show’s focus on tattoos, we were able to present the work of Samoa’s tufuga in a presentation that was well received.”

Tuiga, six, made especially for the INKED closing were designed and crafted by Faletuiga designer Mark Magallanes, a musician, drummer and costume designer at Germaine’s Luau. The tuiga is the ceremonial Samoan headdress that has become iconic in representing Samoa and Samoan culture abroad. Manuo, who has taught hundreds of children and adults how to dance Samoan, Tongan, Tahitian, Hawaiian and Maori, performed the taualuga with a tuiga that featured two-feet lave (sticks).

Visiting cruise ship the MS Oosterdam and a lighted Aloha Tower provided fabulous backgrounds for INKED. Among the audience were Oosterdam passengers who stayed glued to their windows to watch the show from the moored ship.

“Ronnie asked for island fashion and tattoos,” said Thomsen, INKED Co-Director whose clothing line utilizes her first name. “I did what I could to deliver."

And deliver she did. Hawaii’s fashion aficionados missed out big time on couture by Sina. Couture, or, haute couture, is a French term that refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Each piece was fit especially for each Sina model and the designer owes her INKED collection to “runway magic.”

Sina, who has ties to Alamagoto and Lepea, is an award winning Samoan designer who attended fashion school at Honolulu Community College.

Thomsen competed in and won the Design Star contest hosted by Island Edge that was located at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. As part of the win, Island Edge was to carry the Sina line but the retail store closed up shop several months after its 2010 grand opening, said Sina.

Formal wear by Sina is featured in the 2011 Fall/Winter issue of Hawaii Bride & Groom Magazine.

Music from several Samoan artists were utilized during INKED: Zen “Zhen” Uigaese (California); JBOOG (California); Tama O le Mua’au (Pava’ia’i, American Samoa); Ras Mas (Manu’a Islands) and Felise Mikaele (Samoa).

Models included popular Samoan entertainer, Tahiti Fete judge and designer Tali Letuli Goeas (Tali’s Polynesia) and daughter Miss Polynesia 2010 Talilani Goeas; radio personality Chisa Dizon from Maui’s Hit Island Music Station Native 92.5 FM; dancer Maile Mercado who won Best Female in the INKED Tattoo Contest sponsored by Waipahu’s Tattoo Krew Ink; Mr. Hawaiian Islands 2011 Hio Pelesasa and many others who work in Hawaii’s entertainment industry such as Oloa, a World Fireknife Champion and Tevaga. Both Oloa and Tevaga dance for Tihati’s Productions.

Jarene Campbell, a HCC Fashion School graduate, who designs wrestling outfits, handled the backstage. Led by Silofa Faapale Singh and Brandise Brockington, the show’s remarkable team of hair stylists and make-up artists really brought the INKED models to life.

Snags abounded, the show’s turnout was not as high as hoped but hosts Princess Arianna Auva’a and Danmar Galapia and the entire INKED team pulled together to produce a hit show. Reviews from audience members went something like: “awesome!”, “it was good!” and “I loved it!”

“Good job guys,” commented Nesian N.I.N.E. vocalist Jeremy K. Salave’a.

Nesian N.I.N.E. (the N.I.N.E. stands for Natives Inna New Era), undisputedly Hawaii’s hottest band, closed out the post INKED fashion show concert.


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