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Project Runway 2019

Afa Ah Loo was born and raised in the independent country of Samoa in the villages of Lotopa and Falelima. He was first introduced to fashion through his mother, who sewed most of the clothes for him, his three brothers, and his two sisters. In school, Afa was placed in home economics because he was late for class … Read More

First Look—

Burned brownies lit a fire under Latter-day Saint fashion designer. Now the Utahn (from Samoa) is on ‘Project Runway.’

As a high school sophomore growing up in Samoa, Afa Ah Loo was late to register for classes. Hoping for an automotive or art course, he instead ended up in the only one with space remaining: home economics.

The teacher assigned him to the cooking section — until he inadvertently set the kitchen on fire, which ended up being the Utahn’s first step on his path to the TV show “Project Runway” (Thursdays, 9 p.m., Bravo).

“The very first week, we were cooking brownies, I believe,” he said. “Instead of baking something, I fried it and I almost burned down the kitchen. It went up in flames. And the teacher was like, ‘I think cooking is not your thing. I think maybe we should switch you over to sewing.’ “And then the next you know, I was so into it.” …Read More


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Designer Afa Ah Loo from Samoa was chosen to create a bespoke look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange - an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.

Afa designed his Commonwealth Fashion Exchange gown based on his love of traditional Samoan materials. The gown itself is made using linen for the central section, and a floral print from Afa’s archive, then accessorized with a sash made from the traditional Samoan material Afa, which is a yard/rope made out of coconut husk. The gown features handmade and painted flower embellishments, made by Margie Keates of The Lovely Avenue using recycled paper, and by Ofeira Asuao of AliiRas Backdrops using upycled foam. The look is completed with an original Papua New Guinea curved necklace of brown braided rope, decorated with four bands of cream coloured curled shells. The necklace is fastened by two groups of braided cord bands, each decorated with a small white shell pendant… Read More


vogue uk - commonwealth fashion exchange


Yesterday’s packed Buckingham Palace celebration of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange was an inspirational landmark for the human potential of fashion to make positive impacts on the lives of people—women in particular—across the world. Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth secretary-general, with Livia Firth (and her extraordinarily persuasive organizational powers of determination to reform the damage wreaked on the environment by fashion), leveraged perhaps the biggest set of collaborations in history.

“We’re not talking anymore; we’re doing,” said Firth. “At Eco-Age, we have so many conversations about how to get people to understand the negative effects of fast fashion. We thought this was a real opportunity to demonstrate the handprint, not the footprint, of fashion.”…Read More



The unstoppable force that is Livia Firth invited me to help orchestrate the sustainable Commonwealth Fashion Exchange project that she initiated, which was to be installed for one night only—at Buckingham Palace, no less—before transferring to Australia House. Livia, through her Eco Age initiative, had researched design talent in all 53 of the Commonwealth countries, from Canada and Australia to Kiribati and Tuvalu. (I know—I had to consult a map, too.) Some of the smaller nations that don’t have an established fashion industry were invited to collaborate with other countries, contributing jewelry, textiles, or embellishments that showcased indigenous craft. We had a day to install in several of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, which were created in 1825 by John Nash for the aesthetically minded George IV. (Nash also worked as a theater designer, and the progression of the rooms and their impact has a powerfully theatrical quality—so they provide an unparalleled showcase for statement fashion.) I arranged the clothes in thematic and what I hope were complementary groupings, and there were wonderful serendipities during the installation—the Maltese designers Charles and Ron’s black-and-white ballgown with its cuffs of Maltese lace, for instance, was placed next to some extraordinary Dutch portraits of wealthy burghers and their wives in black robes and white lace collars and cuffs.

Meanwhile, the Samoan designer Afa Ah Loo’s own ball gown of vivid florals and bright-green silk sang in the Green Drawing Room, with its green Sèvres porcelain originally commissioned for the French royal family, its 18th-century commodes set with carved hard stone fruit and flowers, and the carnival razzle-dazzle of the two 18-year-old Iridescent fashion designers’ yellow satin and ostrich-plume ensemble (in collaboration with Granada’s Neisha La Touche) looked dramatic framed against the arsenic green draperies… Read More