Watching an individual wear her creations, and her artforms come alive is what motivates Cook Islands Fashion Designer Maggie Anitelea.
Maggie is the up-and-coming designer behind MAKKE (pronounced Maggie), who recently showcased a collection at the Pacific Fashion Fusion Show, in Wellington.
“My label has the letter K in it to represent my Cook Islands - Kuki Airani heritage,” Maggie explains.
“It is my name – a memory I have as a child is when I went to Rarotonga and saw a carving of a Tangaroa statue and how it looked like the letter K.
“That sparked the beginning of my double K signature, representing the word Kuki Airani and that memory.”
Born in the Cook Islands and eldest of five siblings, Maggie grew up in the South Auckland suburb of Otara.
“I come from an incredibly talented and artistic family who love our Cook Islands culture, music and different artforms – for example, costume design and crafts.
“My parents made sure we understood our Cook Islands language and culture as it was extremely important for us to maintain it for our children and future generations.”
Maggie has always loved fashion from a young age and remembers begging her parents to watch Miss Universe.
“It was a family affair to choose the winner - but I was watching it to see the contestants’ glamourous evening gowns and national costumes.
“I would try and recreate these costumes the next day using my mama’s pareu and Sellotape.”
For Maggie, fashion is an artform which allows her to use her talents, and then observe how her creation comes alive when an individual wears it.
“When designing, anything can inspire you and from that you can create anything, it is limitless, that is its beauty.”
Being a part of this year’s Pacific Fashion Fusion Show has made Maggie realise how important it is to follow your passion in life.
“Stop creating doubt, get off your butt, and do the hard work.
“This journey has given me the confidence to continue and expand into other avenues around fashion.”
The Pacific Fashion Fusion Show is such a powerful platform that empowers designers to follow their dreams, enjoy the journey and express their true passions, she adds.
While it is scary not having financial security of a full-time salary, not knowing if your work will be appreciated, it seems COVID has changed the way people think and work, and Maggie says it is time adapt to the new norm and follow her passions.