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The island-inspired Colour Closet

The island-inspired Colour Closet

  • 11 Jan 2019
  • |
  • Rotuma
Color Closet Spring Shoot by Paul Maka Kea Photography 27 10 2018 27

Born and raised on the volcanic island of Rotuma, designer and artist Ravai Titifanue learnt early on being creative meant utilising the resources available plus lots of imagination. 

It was in her homeland, with its rich and fertile soil, abundance of flora and fauna, and marine life thriving in its coral reefs, where Ravai also developed a deep appreciation for colour and its use in her creations. 

Although she attended secondary school in Fiji, it is Rotuma which is etched in Ravai’s memories, learning her craft from women in her village as a youngster, and where she first fell in love with creating things.  

“I was taught the customary arts of mat weaving and garland making in Rotuma,” Ravai says. 

“I observed women creating clothing items for their families from the limited materials available - leftover pieces of fabric were often patched together to create unique tablecloths, bed covers, pillowcases, floor mats, and so forth. 

“Women also embroidered and did appliqué work portraying motifs of birds, leaves, and flowers resulting in bold and colourful masterpieces and these were proudly owned and given as gifts at weddings, birthdays, and baptisms.” 

Considering her upbringing, it is no wonder colour gives her so much joy and makes her smile, she adds.   

Despite her love and passion to create and design, Ravai embarked on various career paths, until three years ago. 

“I made the decision to stop procrastinating, prioritise, let go of fear and other obstacles I envisaged and make it happen.” 

In December 2017, Ravai launched her Porirua-based business The Colour Closet, which offers distinctive and contemporary everyday fashion designs and styles, fusing Pacific-inspired art prints and quality, and all clothes are made locally. 

On January 19, Ravai and her team from The Colour Closet will set up a stall at Wellington’s annual Pasifika Festival for the second time, where her designs (such as the shirt pictured below) will be available to buy. 

The business owner and designer says being part of the vibrant Wellington Pacific community is vitally important.  

“I get to meet, network and share stories with talented artists, new and established … and I love the vibrancy, dynamic and friendliness of our people.”  

It is Ravai’s passion to create stylish, fun fashions with a unique Pacific edge, and it is her hope to see The Colour Closet designs worn and enjoyed by people everywhere, she says. 

“I’m so glad I made The Colour Closet happen - if not, then this would only remain a wish, a dream.” 

Staged on January 19, Wellington Pasifika Festival is expected to attract over 15,000 people.

The festival highlights the capital’s tight-knit Pacific communities’ arts and culture. 

It is an opportunity for all Pacific people to celebrate and share their knowledge, values and beliefs.

There will be delicious food to buy, free family-friendly activities, and performances by traditional and contemporary Pacific artists.

Wellington Pasifika Festival gets underway with a blessing by Pastor Varani Komaisavai and welcome by Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio, at Odlins Plaza from 12pm.