Who says big women can't look good?"
That's the word from plus-size fashion designer Melissa Cole in the lead up to True South, a fashion show of "poly-fab" proportions. Ms Cole, whose late father was flamboyant Auckland fashion designer Colin Cole, has been sewing her own clothes for 30 years. But come Friday her new label I Love Lissy will make its catwalk debut.
"I know what my style is and I know what I love. Back in the 1980s there was nothing for plus-size girls. I just had to make it work for me and over the years I've perfected my own style. "These days I'm all about the big girl standing out. I'm not into hiding away in black clothing, feeling ashamed of my size. I'm like `girl, you better own that'."
Her fashion show kick-starts the 2012 Pacific Arts Summit and promises to explode with colour, South Auckland Pacific arts co-ordinator Ema Tavola says. "We have so many big, beautiful women in Manukau who are full of confidence and True South celebrates that. It's a parallel universe to what happens in mainstream fashion."
The two-hour show will feature three emerging and three established designers including Visesio Louis Thomsen, Czarina Wilson and Paula Chan, as well as three exciting dance groups. And lending their talents will be Pacific soul sisters Bella Kalolo and Rosita Vai. Ms Cole is ready to take on the fashion world and hold it to ransom for not looking after the needs of bigger bodies.
"It's cool to be showing in South Auckland and the Mangere Arts Centre is a beautiful place but I'm nervous too because that's my heart and soul walking down the catwalk.
"The most exciting thing is it's a plus size fashion show and let's face it – plus size rules in South Auckland."