Papua New Guinean duo impresses at fashion show


Dusk Devi reports on Pacific Runway, where two Papua New Guinean fashion designers showed their latest collections.

Cathy Currey and some of her outfits. Credit: Dusk Devi

Pacific-origin designers showed off their creative excellence, cultural influence and flair at Pacific Runway in Australia late last year.

The key fashion event for designers from the Pacific is in its eighth year and was at Sydney’s Carriageworks. The show sold out almost as soon as tickets were released last year and has become a Sydney ‘must-do’ for the fashion industry and fashion lovers.

Two of the most popular designers of the 2019 show – Andrew (Dru) dropDouglas and Cathy Currey – hail from PNG.

Rabaul-born and New Zealand-based Douglas launched his first capsule collection, Kolos, at Pacific Runway in 2017 and last year presented his second capsule collection, Aurua. 

‘I continued the themes from the first collection which encompassed ideas of comfort and security,’ he says. ‘This collection, though, had an underlying vulnerability and felt a bit more freeing. I didn’t want to over think this collection, so it came together rather organically,’ says Douglas.

‘I have always loved the idea of being able to communicate ideas and stories through garments.’

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‘After showing for the first time two years ago at Pacific Runway I had more clarity and experience this time around. I knew how I wanted the models to be styled and what the music was going to be.

‘The response and feedback to the collection after the show was great. I love how Pacific Runway is a celebration of people of colour for people of colour, there is nothing like it.’

Success & the environment

Dru Douglas. Credit: Dusk Devi

Douglas works full-time for the Auckland City Mission, which is a charity that helps people in need. ‘Being a self-funded designer means having to work full-time and save up for Lumai [his fashion label]. On my days off and after my day job I am trying to complete pre-orders. It’s a lot for one person but I’m grateful to have customers who understand my situation and don’t mind the wait.’

Douglas says storytelling compels him to design. ‘I have always loved the idea of being able to communicate ideas and stories through garments. Everything I create has intention and purpose behind it. My creative expression helps honour who I am and how I see myself in the world.

‘After releasing the first capsule collection for Lumai I took a year off and had to redefine what success meant for me. After I did that, I was able to come back to Lumai with clarity and less pressure.’

So what is success to him? ‘Success for me is having the resources, space and time to creatively express myself. If people connect with what I do with Lumai then that is an added bonus. My cultural heritage is inherent to Lumai’s success.’

‘I try to stick with natural fibres as much as I can.’

Douglas works with natural fibres. Silks, cottons and linens are among his favourites to sew with. ‘I try to stick with natural fibres as much as I can and if I do use a synthetic it tends to be deadstock fabric.

‘I have also, for the most part, eliminated the toiling process by incorporating technology into my design process. I now design, draft patterns and develop using software which creates minimal to no waste during the development phase.’

He says sustainability and ethical practices are important to the Lumia ethos.

This is an edited excerpt of the article ‘PNG duo impresses at the fashion show,’ which first appeared in the January-February issue of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini.

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