When danger was near, Cherish Prasad flew to her hometown, the hidden paradise of Savusavu on Vanua Levu to be safe from the second wave of COVID-19.
His fashion talent couldn’t be ruled out, however, so when he found out Fiji Fashion Week was going virtual and CEO Ellen Whippy-Knight asked designers to seriously consider their ability to deliver, Cherish lifted the hand.
Yesterday, as he prepared to look at his collection, the 24-year-old who caught fashion’s attention as a high school teenager in Savusavu years ago was a wreck nervous.
Unlike the 14 other designers who showcased their creative talent on the Palmolive FJFW Virtual Show, the northerner did not even touch his collection of 15 garments.
He used video calls, messaging apps, and guts to produce his collection remotely.
âI can’t even sleep because I oscillate between worry and excitement. I can’t contain this feeling because it’s quite overwhelming to see my work unfold in front of the whole nation when I haven’t even touched it, âhe said before his collection was released 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 creation, followed what he knew.
A fan of denim, sheer fabrics and rayon, Cherish worked with fellow APTC graduate and fashion designer Susana Samuels to create her FJFW21 collection despite the barrier of distance, confinement, and physical distancing.
âI was there via video calls through everything from buying fabrics to reopening stores to selecting the zip and even through hairstyling, makeup and shooting my collection, I was there thanks to technology, âCherish said.
âI was on a video call through all the processes from zippers and fabric to all of that, Susana was video calling me through everything, even when she was cutting the fabric and she was calling me. was teaching the way he 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 follow my guts looking at it and deciding things like hemming those video calls.”
After a successful showcase of her collection at the FJFW20 Oceans Gala, Cherish took Whippy-Knight’s comments to heart and worked on the new collection via remote control with Susana.
He was supposed to showcase his 2021 âOi Auâ (This is me) collection at another event and had marketing photo ops and other activities planned around it.
A combination of evening couture, resort wear and streetwear, Cherish used Whippy-Knights’ comments to make changes to existing silhouettes that he had not yet used.
âBut this collection is very different from what I do every year and I think people will notice it,â he said.
After he was able to create the clothes, he worked with artisans from Savusavu to create accessories from coconut shells from Hidden Paradise to ensure that a part of him was in the style of the final collection.
He arranged for the Savusavu accessories, which were engraved with the Cherish Designs logo, to be brought to Suva.
With the entire collection in place, he again used communications technology to stylize each look with the production team, who photographed his clothes at the British High Commissioner’s official residence in Suva.
âFrom the moment my collection hit the site, I was on a video call making decisions on what looks good on who and what should be styled this way or looked more polished this way. . So all of these things were done via video calls. So when they were filming, I was actually on a video conference with Sue and the guys who were helping to dress the models, âhe said.
âI think the nervousness is that I wasn’t there and this collection is my most different from what I usually do. It’s a completely new genre that I’m drawing from.
With the ability to create a luxury collection from Savusavu via a remote control, Cherish is happy with what awaits her ahead of her already long career in Fijian fashion.
âI am always inspired by the beauty of the place where I live. The blue hues in my collection are what I see when I wake up in the morning and when I look out the window I just see the water from Savusavu Bay. I was inspired by the different shades of blue in my hometown, âhe said.
âI’m also very grateful to everyone who helped me create this collection in a truly virtual way, to everyone who brought me in via video call to make sure I was involved in this collection that I can finally see online. “
- LICE MOVONO is a freelance journalist and public relations consultant.