Leai se Fefe: Without a Doubt

Feeonaa Wall interpreted June Black’s ‘Costume to offset the acid thought of doubt’. "The universal theme of doubt was the initial attraction. Something I feel we all need less of in our lives. To offset and disarm it needed something to come from deep within, its inspirational root taking hold in my Mother’s land." The piece is also a homage to the Pacific Sisters of which she is a member. Known for their pioneering ‘fashion activism’ this evolving collective of New Zealand urban Pacific fashion designers, artists, performers and musicians established in the early 1990s, remain a formative and enduring haven of influence and like-mindedness. "The waistcoat is a signature adornment of Pacific Sister style, deriving from the simple crossing of beads and shells across the torso, common in Pacific dress. The act of creating one is also a right of passage that was my time now to make, its completion signifying identity, interconnection, protection and a reminder of our history together. It also holds meaning unique to the individual. My intention to enhance the transformative potential of the waistcoat, disrupting old, no longer useful patterns. Its acid-like colours effectively ‘cancelling-out’ and silencing all thought of doubt from its wearer, (and it’s maker). At the same time reflecting a new way of thinking, a new way of being, a new direction or affirmation."

Feeonaa's label text in the Intellectual Fashion Show 2016 read:

‘E Leai se Fefe’ Without a Doubt

I think of an ancient saying from my mother’s Samoan village
Leai se fefe (have no fear)
Erasing all doubt, even that which fear hides behind
I Am, Without a Doubt!

I turn now towards the warmth on my cheek,
Closing my eyes
I meditate
The acid colours of a morning sunrise are upon me
A new dawn speaks

To my Pacific Sisters
A taupou is dancing for you
With fearless vitality in her eyes, her mana intact, under firm waistcoat protection

Legends are held within and without
Woven between friends,
Shared amongst our mingling ancestors

Reaching through time, e nga hau e wha
From island to island
Throughout Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa
From distant day-to now-to beyond


Credit: Photo by Fraser Chatham
Copyright: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 Licence
Designer: Feeonaa Wall
Manufacturing location: Auckland
Material: Plastic string bead, raffia, pearl shell, coral
Date: 2016