One of Fiji’s top fashion designers, Robert Kennedy is taking his latest collection to the United States. This month, Kennedy’s Taralala will be showed at LA fashion week at Los Angeles’ Union Station. He is amongst eleven other local designers who are part of Fiji Fashion Week’s traveling fashion show.
Loosely translated as ‘modern dance’, Taralala according to Kennedy describes the mingling of two diverse cultures to create a new and beautiful art. The large, intricate, geometric shapes from Islamic style complement the tropical fauna motifs of the islands. Kennedy’s collection features both warm and bright colors like desert orange, zesty lemon, olive green and fuchsia.
So far the Taralala collection has been a hit, and Kennedy took home the top prize in Excellence in Textile Design at Fiji Fashion.
The new collection is just a taste of what’s on the horizon for Kennedy. A new swimwear line will be launched in November at the Fiji Resort Show, and as soon as he returns from LA Kennedy is off to Queensland, Australia for the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival.
Robert Kennedy is a descendant of two settler families that arrived in Fiji in the 1870’s. Born in Suva, Robert completed High School in Australia and studied Interior Design in Brisbane and Textile Design in Melbourne. He returned to Fiji is 2002 to begin creating his South Pacific inspired fashion and design house.
Kennedy’s return to Fiji in 2002 saw him creating Silk Screen prints onto Masi (Tapa Cloth) and Digital Photography, drawing inspiration from Fiji’s flora, fauna and people. He has consistently exhibited at local Art Exhibitions including The Western Arts and Crafts Society, The Fiji Arts Club, The Fiji Arts Council and Alliance Francaise.
Robert Kennedy’s philosophy is to ‘passionately creative’ with a ‘bold, new and unique’ look at contemporary Fijian and Pacific design. A culmination of different cultural facets that come together to offer a ‘uniquely Fijian and Pacific’ designed product.
Bold, colourful prints are always the main starting points for Kennedy’s collections. Themes are always inspired from around the Pacific with designs that are often a blend of disparate cultures. He also draws constant inspiration from the tropical flora and fauna that surrounds him living in Fiji. Colours are also always an important factor in Kennedy’s collections. His striking colour palette usually combines Lemon, Tangerine, Fuchsia and Olive, which are beautifully blended with his perennial favourites of Turquoise, Black, Grey and Lime Green. Kennedy also makes sure that the textiles he chooses are the best suited for tropical climates such as Rayon and Cotton. His broad range of sizes ensures that women of all sizes and shapes fit well in his clothes.
Robert Kennedy won the FJFW Established Designer of the Year Award and FJFW 2011 Resort Wear designer of the year. Best Booth at the Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange twice for Castaway Island Resort in 2005 and Myola Plantation Villa in 2007. Kennedy is also responsible for the design and buying of the Fiji Market Brand in Tapppoo Fiji Ltd. and has designed several home wares and fashion collections. In 2008 Tappoo, Fiji Market won the Fiji Excellence in Tourism Award 2008 for best Shopping Experience. Robert also showcased his Fiji Market Fashion range for the first time at Fiji Fashion Week 2009 and was nominated for Designer of the Year 2009 and in 2010.
At Fiji Fashion Week in 2013, Kennedy showed his new Grand Pacific collection, which was inspired by the Golden Age of Travel in the Pacific when hotels like the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva were in their hay day. He was also was inspired by early 20th Century photographers in Fiji like his own Great Grand Father Leslie Norman Anderson. His prints captured the natural landscapes, flora and striking colours of the Fiji Islands.
Salusalu, (a necklace of flowers) was the central inspiration for Robert Kennedy Fiji’s 2014 Fashion Collection. Having recently participated in several Jewellery Workshops around Fiji, Kennedy was inspired to create a series of Silk Screen Prints on Masi (Tapa), depicting tribal jewellery hung like in a display cabinet. This theme was further developed into some of the stand out signature prints of the Salusalu Collection.
Robert Kennedy Fiji is retailed in Fiji exclusively through Tappoo in Suva, Nadi and Sigatoka.
BY MEL EBSWORTH