The Sold Out Annual VPride Fashion Show on October 1, 2022 proved itself to be another step up success for the fast growing and diversifying Vanuatu fashion industry.

Focusing on local talents, fashion design and creativity, the event attracted seven designers exhibiting more than 200 original pieces, 120 models with 600 VIP guests, which comprised a good mix of top business houses, glamorous public figures, NGOs, international missions, families and fans — all on red carpet style.

As a show appetizer, the R18 event commenced with an onscreen key VPride message, reminding the public the importance of the advocacy of the organization, with interviews of the designers, each explaining their motivation to create.

The specular event then kicked start with the unveiling of Gigi Baxter’s new fashion line, an exotic fabric fusion of gold tapa designs, Pacific blue, summer floral, aqua jigsaw on casual, formal catwalk wear, followed by Loic’s entire set on modern traditional Kanaky-style tribute, a first in the event. Sean Sivaro dislayed a bold sun yellow, orange and red base line with black prints and colorful sequence for all wear, while Clifford’s amazing multi-colored kaleidoscope collection revealed his designs were exceptional and for any occasion.

Neil Stephens strutted off his navy blue -black n’ white lined in casual, semi-formal to formal coat inclusive wear which caught the eye of the professional working class, stunning the audience.

Gilbert Mermer had an epic combination of pieces that were individualistic in their own style, notably golden brown, black-white set, deep pink and moderate blue leaving the room completely mesmerized.

Highlighting the end of his sequence was the new innovative ‘mother-daughter’ concept, which was applauded by the audience, as modeled for the first time by Telstar Jimmy and Trisha Stafford Rakau, alongside their dear girls respectively.

Show stopper and artistic prints designer, Tania Calvo, left the crowd wowed as she celebrated her new, sexy summer all wear line with a unique “children of the sun” feel in 2 — fold bold yellows, blue, green design montage and splash paint merge with flower crowns on their heads.

Show Coordinator Baxter who was extremely excited and almost lost for words in disbelief said, “despite four months of preparation and some challenges, we were delighted to see a record turn out and people enjoying the show.” Former Leader of Opposition Leader, Ralph Regenvanu, said, “the show initially had humble beginnings at WSB and today has achieved its next level not only through popularity, but also in terms of the quality in what designer’s are creating and exhibiting.”

International fashion designer, Jojo Vanuatu, who has been in fashion for 16 years after studying and working shows in Paris said, “It was fabulous energy, a great cause and a first class show well-delivered.”

“Undoubtedly, it is a great show and it gets better every year,” said Kerri.

Notably, amongst the catwalk line-up, were Para Olympian, Elie Enock, who proved fashion is for everyone, still reigning Miss Vanuatu, Valerie Martinez, former Miss Port Vila, Denis, Carissa Jacobe and newcomers, Cliffi Kevin and Jojo from VMF.

Filipino Entertainer, Janelle serenaded the closing with Whitney’s “I Have Nothing” before transforming herself into a high powered Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”, which left the entire room electrified with on-going strobe lighting effects from Benson Nako.

After promoting their fashion line, designers put their unique pieces on sale, due to public demand.

“Looking good and feeling great about fashion and your talents is what the show is all about, everyone loves it and this inspires future models and designers to join, be part of the fashion industry and help it grow,” said Model Sana.

“The show is a big success despite threats to protest. While we respect freedom of expression from others, we need ours to also be respected as we are all human and have our own contributions to our society – join us in 2023,” said Models Davia and Vanessa.

Despite the ticket sell out, there is obviously now more demand for more seating in 2023 and price is no barrier to the quality of the show delivery, which is nothing short of great entertainment for a good cause.

The event sponsors included United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), The Global Fund, UN Women, European Union, Ministry of Health (Government of Vanuatu), Oxfam, CARE, Australian AID, New Zealand High Commission, Ambassade De France Au Vanuatu Et Aux Iles Salomon, Human Capacity Development Unit (HCDI), VBTC, Kacific, Vanuatu Tourism Office, Grand Vanuatu, TitanFX, ICount, AJC, Pacific Private Bank, Bred Bank, Wan Smol Bag, 83 Islands Distillery, Senei Mahuk and Glen Craig, as well as Justin Ngwele, amongst others.

VPride annually organized the fashion show to support economic empowerment for its members, a number of whom are talented and successful fashion designers.

VPride is a Vanuatu community-based, Non-Government Organization founded in 2007 to help educate, advocate, and mobilize diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

The organization has been supported by the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) through the Global Fund and has maintained longstanding partnerships with various government agencies such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Justice through the Gender Protection cluster within the Department of Women’s Affairs and the diplomatic representations in Vanuatu with the emphasis of it meeting its international and national obligations to make sure no one is left behind.

– Vanuatu Paparazzi