Friday, August 31, 2007

Miss Milne Bay Crowning Night!

Article in Post Courier-Wednesday 8th August '07
The newly crowned "Miss Milne Bay 2007"-
Miss Gabrielle Ova (Miss Education)

The contestants with outgoing Queen Mimousa Mark &

current Miss PNG-Genevieve Robert in the background.

A few months ago, I was approached by the Red Cross to help with designing some of the Casual Wear and Swim wear garments for The Red Cross Miss Milne Bay Quest Crowning Night which was held on Saturday 4th August at Masurina Lodge. I jumped at the opportunity having no idea what I was getting myself into and with the assistance of my good friends Jeanie Callister,Aila Nabwakuleia, a few screen printers, seamstresses and anyone else who was around to help, we put together the hottest fashion show ever to be seen at a crowning night in Milne Bay!(Well, I’d like to think so anyway!!)

It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. We designed 12 garments in total for Casual Wear and Swim Wear under the label " Rags2Riches". There were only 6 contestants so at least it wasn’t too much of a load. I love working with denim, It’s durable, always in fashion and looks great torn or tailored. Rags2Riches by JAM is the inspiration of three Milne Bay women-Jean Callister,Aila Nabwakuleia and myself. Rags2Riches is all about recycled fashion. We love nothing more than to buy worn out old jeans and make them into something more exciting.

As The National Book Week was held in the second week of August, we decided to create clothing with a message and to promote education and literacy in PNG. It was also an opportunity for us to create a bit of awareness for The Milne Bay Book Drive, something Australian AYAD Volunteer Jane McKenzie and I initiated before she left us in March this year . We’re basically sourcing new and used books from Australia and distributing them to schools around Milne Bay. With over 500 registered schools in the province, it’s a big task, but one we’re passionate about. Currently we have a lot of books in storage in
Australia (Sydney,Brisbane,) and we need to raise funds to ship them up here. To date we have received over 1,000 books and have distributed to 19 different schools (Elementary,Primary & High Schools) in the province.

So many schools in the province and throughout the country have limited resources and access to basic tools for learning such as books, stationary even desks and classrooms! All this does little to inspire children to develop a thirst for knowledge and to stay in school.

Miss Raven Estates-Margie modelling one of our

revamped denim jackets.

Our Casual Wear clothes featured a funky range of revamped denim skirts and jeans that were made from second hand jeans and skirts that were cut up, re-sewn and decorated with sequins,buttons,scarves,lace & bits of fabric. For the tops, I bought t-shirts, cut them up again into different designs and then printed educational quotes on the front and back.

Miss Masurina Ltd- Vivien in another one of our creations.

The hunky male escorts!Poni and Nimrod in Rags2Riches T-shirts.

Miss Samarai Mariculture-Sylvia Benoma

opened the show by bursting through

the Rags2Riches banner.

Sylvia in funky jeans.

The clothes were all about having fun,being bold and confident. On the night, the contestants walked out with books or magazines in their hands and pretended to read on the cat walk. Tanya Doyle's catwalk coaching certainly paid off on the night. I was so proud of the girls, they were so much more confident and it showed! It was certainly something new for Alotau!

Lady in red- Gabrielle

The Swimwear Category was just as exciting. Again, we used recycled denim, this time using stretch denim. We couldn’t find any white denim jeans in the second hand stores so we bleached the jeans instead.Local screen printer-Rohan Bate, dyed them and printed them with traditional Milne Bay motifs and patterns in contemporary colours. It was damn hard work for all involved, but Thanks to the fantastic local talent we have here in Alotau, we were able to make 6 pretty unique and sexy swimwear for our contestants. Pauline Ponifasio sewed the swimwear.

Sylvia strutting her stuff and shown' some leg.
The normally shy Miss Friends & Family -Dako

was nowhere to be seen that night!

Julie-Miss Baycabs, must have had the loudest cheers on the night.

I didn’t expect the response from the audience on the night. As soon as the girls walked out in their bikinis, everyone (ok, mainly the men!) swarmed to the stage to get photos and to get a closer look! What is it about bikinis?? I mean when the girls were in traditional dress with no tops on, it certainly didn’t have the same effect.

It was nice to hear some people saying “Did they make those here or overseas?”You wouldn’t have guessed the swimsuits were made from old pairs of jeans that's for sure!

It was also my first time to make crowns and I can assure you it was not easy! It’s one thing to sketch a design on paper and another to actually make the thing! Thank Goodness for Lucia Warren who was most helpful in helping me source the beautiful mother of pearl shells from Samarai Mariculture to make the crowns. My boss Simon was really supportive too. I also have to Thank our carpenter Philip Pima who almost lost a few fingers in cutting and shaping the shells! I don’t think either of us ever want to see another shell after that experience!(well, not for a while anyway). Jean as always, stepped in to give a hand with the last bit of stitching.

The original sketches for the crowns.
If only you knew how many necklaces

Jean and I cut up to make the crowns!

Miss Charity Queen- Sylvia Benoma.

I'm not even going to mention how many times

I pricked my fingers sewing on the fabric.

As I was too stressed trying to complete all the clothes, my dear friend Henz (Hennah Joku) came to my rescue and organised our clothes for the evening. I totally trust Henz's taste so when she offered to organise our shoes,dresses,make up,jewellery (underwear!! -trust me, Victoria's Secret is still very much a secret here in Alotau!), I jumped at the opportunity! Henz lives on Java Is. in Indonesia where shopping is great and sooo cheap! So after a frenzy of emails trying to specify sizes,and what particular style or cut of dress,shoes etc etc...we finally received our outfits in the mail via Post PNG's EMS service .....on the day of the Crowning!Talk about relief!You should have seen Jeannie and I opening up the parcels!We were like a pair of squealing 2 yr olds at x-mas! It was one of those do or die moments as we held our breaths not knowing if we'd like the outfits or not. Of course we loved them! Jeannie had a lovely green halter neck dress with plunging neckline and strappy silver heels. I went for a more Spanish look with a soft black flowing dress, red hair piece and a pair of red hot heels...which I am totally in love with!
Jean Callister-my partner in crime!

Isn't she gorgeous!

Maxine and Jeannie. Wherever we go, the noise follows!

The contestants in traditional attire. Back view of Sylvia.

She is mixed Suau and Logea Is. Dako dancing gracefully to the kundu drums.
Julie is mixed Manus and Raba Raba.

The Raba Raba costume is quite stunning. Vivien Norris proudly holding her family's mwali.
Margie -"the catwalk queen",

she walked like a professional model

and was a natural

on stage.

Vivien looked great in her dress.
Gabrielle's dress was uniquely Milne Bay with bagi shells hanging down her back and a Milne Bay print on the side. It was certainly eye-catching. I designed her dress then she had it slightly modified by the seamstress-Pauline Ponifasio.
Current Miss PNG-Genevieve Roberts was a guest at the crowning night. I found her quite personable, she made an effort to walk around the room and mingle with guests which was nice.
Recognise this guy? I didn't and Yes, it's Habona.

He was clean shaven and had on a new shirt. Tanya Doyle-Former Miss PNG (1994) was instrumental

in organising the event, Mercinta-Elaine Maras-MC and Maxine.

Anne Wood & my cousin Nimrod Nadile.
Mimousa Mark-Outgoing Queen wearing

the crown for the last time.

Samatha & mum Sarah Clark with friend Milli Saul.

Yaa pris!Det wan how? Sista girl Sama.

The Hula dancing girls-Victoria,Marika and Samantha

Maxine backstage with musicians Ben and Jeremiah.

All dressed up! Jean and Betty from Red Cross.

Beautiful smiles from Sam and Victoria.