The work of three Tufuga close Hawaii’s first INKED Island Fashion Show

Photo Credit: 
Iris Domingo/IRIS Images
Dress by SINA. Model: Tian Savusa.

INKED set for Sept. 15 in San Diego, California

(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 II will show in San Diego, Calif. Sept. 15. Tatau Brand and Selah International are working with the INKED team to produce the 2012 show.

“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, Philippines, Guam 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 California were Tatau Brand and Selah International.

Tattoos by many artists graced the INKED catwalk. The tatau, Samoa’s traditional full body tattoo for men, 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 cultural dance group Mitamitaga O Samoa, regular performers at Samoan Heritage Week, were founded by choreographer Lorita Fuamanuao Achica, 64, of Utulei, Vaimoso and Alamagoto.

Tina Mata’afa-Elise, Waipahu native, Faletuiga Editor and senior writer, associate editor and advertising sales executive for 808Ink, directed the show which drew the support of sponsors: 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.”

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, through her work as a YMCA A+ Afterschool site director and M.O.S. instructor, performed the taualuga with a tuiga that featured two-feet lave (sticks).

“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 a 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 showcase our work and the work of Samoa’s tufuga in a performance that was well received."

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 aficionado missed out big time on Cou(Toa), as in couture, by Sina who has ties to Alamagoto and Lepea. Couture, or, haute couture, is a French term that refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Each piece was cut and fit especially for each Sina model and the designer owes her INKED collection to “runway magic.”

Thomsen is an award winning designer who attended fashion school at Honolulu Community College, 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); Vaniah Toloa (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 this: “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), closed out the post INKED fashion show concert.

“It wasn‘t easy creating INKED from scratch and we had two months. There were many challenges but to see how everything came together at show time was positively amazing. Felise Mikaele’s lyrics said it best on show night: ‘E lo’u loto ua fiafia, ua aulia mai lenei aso manaia, le aso sa lupe ua taunu’u ma le manuia. Ua e talia la’u fa’atalao ula ua atoa tino, ua maualuga, ave ia le mua i lana pule fa’asoifua’,” said INKED Director Tina Mata’afa-Elise.

“We had some really good people who cared about this show, took it seriously from start to finish, sacrificed, worked hard on it and prayed for its success. Big thanks to Mr. Russell for the rare opportunity to direct the production. We learned some harsh lessons but now we have something solid to build upon going into the Cali show. Special thanks to the UH Samoan Studies Department and UH Fealofani Samoa Club advisors Fata Simanu-Klutz and John Niko Patu; our photographers Antonio Agosto, Pita Gurr, Molly Murphy and Iris Domingo and our videographer Simanu Logotaeao. To everyone who supported the show, our sponsors, Waterfront staff, the tattoo artists, the designers, the models, hair and make-up, our stage and DJ crew, the bands, performers, our co-hosts, family and friends thank you a million times over.”

The INKED Island Fashion Show was held to mark the release of 808Ink’s third issue “Pacific Ties” which is now in stores and military bases across Hawaii, in California, Las Vegas and Tahiti. Cover story for issue number four, due out in March, is on Tufuga Su’a Peter Suluape, who with his father Su’a Suluape Alaiva’a Petelo and the Malofie Samoa Association, will host the 5th International Samoan Tatau Festival 2012, May 30 to June 7, in beautiful Samoa. The festival coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Samoan independence.

Russell says this year, “808ink is going to open more eyes, educate more people and turn more heads!”

808ink, now available on every military installation in the world, including the PX in American Samoa, will be covering the festivities in Samoa this summer.

For more information on INKED or the International Tatau Festival, write to Tina Mata’afa-Elise at faletuiga@gmail.com.