Fiji Fashion Week: Cherish takes fashion to a new dimension

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Models showcase designs. Picture: FIJI FASHION WEEK

When danger was close, Cherish Prasad took off to his hometown, the hidden paradise of Savusavu on Vanua Levu to be safe from the second wave of COVID-19.

His fashion talent could not be kept away though, so when he found out Fiji Fashion Week was turning virtual and managing director Ellen Whippy-Knight asked designers to seriously think about their ability to deliver, Cherish put his hand up.

Yesterday, as he prepared to watch his collection, the 24-year-old who came to fashion attention while a teenage student of Savusavu Secondary School years ago was a nervous wreck.

Unlike the other 14 designers who showcased their creative talent on the Palmolive FJFW Virtual Show, the northerner has not even touched his collection of 15 garments.

He resorted to video calls, messenger apps and gut to produce his collection remotely.

“I can’t even sleep because I’m going between worry and excitement. I can’t contain this feeling because it’s quite overwhelming to watch my work unfold before the entire nation when I have not even touched it,” he said before his collection went to air on Fiji One last night.

Cherish, a graduate of the Australia Pacific Training Coalition Certificate in Applied Fashion Technology program that FJFW had lobbied for the creation of, went with what he knew.

A fan of denim, sheer fabric and rayon, Cherish worked with fellow APTC graduate and fashion designer Susana Samuels to put his FJFW21 collection together despite the barrier of distance, lockdown and physical distancing.

“I was there via video calls through it all, from the purchase of the fabrics when shops reopened to selecting the zip and even through the hair and makeup and shooting of my collection, I was there through technology,” Cherish said.

“I was on a video call through all the processes from the zippers to the fabric to all of it, Susana would video call me throughout everything even when she was cutting the fabric and she was teaching me the way it was cut and I felt part of the process. Even though I was far away.”

The worst part he said was not being able to feel the fabric, “So I had to just go with my guts by looking at it and deciding things like the hem from those video calls”.

After a successful showcase of his collection at the FJFW20 Oceans Gala, Cherish took feedback from Whippy-Knight to heart and got working on the new collection via remote control with Susana.

He was meant to showcase his 2021 collection “Oi Au” (This is me) at another event and had planned marketing photo shoots and other activities around it.

A combination of evening couture, resort wear and streetwear, Cherish used Whippy-Knights feedback to make changes to existing silhouettes he had yet to use.

“But this collection is very different from what I do every year and I think people will notice that,” he said.

After he had been able to create the garments, he worked with Savusavu artisans to create accessories out of coconut shells from the hidden paradise to ensure part of him was in the styling of the final collection.

He arranged for the Savusavu accessories, which were engraved with the Cherish Designs logo, to be brought to Suva.

Once the entire collection was together, he resorted to communications technology again to style each look with the production team, who shot his garments at the Official Residence of the British High Commissioner to Suva.

“From the moment my collection arrived on site, I was on video call making the decisions on what looks good on who and what should be styled this way or looked neater that way. So all those things were done via video calls. So when they were shooting, I was actually on a video call with Sue and the guys that were helping to dress the models,” he said.

“I think the nervousness comes from the fact that I wasn’t there and this collection is my most different from what I normally do. This is a completely new genre that I am tapping into.”

Empowered by the ability to create a luxe collection from Savusavu via remote control, Cherish is happy for what lies ahead of his already long career in Fiji Fashion.

“I am always inspired by the beauty of where I live. The blue hues in my collection are what I see from when I wake up in the morning and see when I look out my window, I just see the water of Savusavu bay. I drew the inspiration from the different shades of blue of my home town,” he said.

“I am also so grateful to all the people who helped me put this collection together truly virtually, everyone who brought me in via video call to make sure I was involved in this collection I finally get to see online.”

  • LICE MOVONO is a freelance journalist and public relations consultant.
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