Pacific cocktail dresses, tropical inspired couture and evening wear out of a Polynesian paradise.
That’s just a slice of what’s being launched next Saturday for the VIP only event held at Sydney’s Erskine Gallery.
Lavashe Couture fashion label began as a hobby in 1998 and has since become a dream come true.
“Finally I decided to do something that is uniquely my style and idea,” fashion designer Tito Schmidt says.
“I have been doing mini fashion shows over the last few years but with the demand from Europe and Asia, I believe that it’s time to invite business people and the Australian media to see what I really do.”
The Samoan designer first got a taste for fashion from none other than his mother.
“My late mother Lavasi Schmidt-Stowers was a woman of fashion and through her love of nature, I was able to combine that with my passion for art,” he says.
“That’s how I came to be inspired by the colours of the environment.”
The launch of his label is his first ever major solo exhibition and coincides with Australia Fashion Week which starts in April. It features a new line of traditionally inspired designs and creative wear. And also Pacific Island inspired yet modern cocktail dresses, evening and couture gowns.
But it’s not just Pacific circles who are admiring his work. Tito’s worked in a large number of events alongside international beauty queens and models. His work won best designer award for Miss Earth Australia 2009 and 2010.
“It is such a challenging event coming face to face with some of Australia’s top designers,” he says.
“Seeing 50 or more models on the catwalk and knowing that ten of them are in my gowns. Winning best designer award was such a high especially knowing that a number of Australian designers went for the same award as well.”
The self-taught designer swapped his office job for the runway and hasn’t turned back.
“After arriving in Australia 16 years ago, I got bored of office jobs so I turn to art which led me to designing clothes and costumes. I taught myself with everything I do and that is why I am still passionate about it.”
Tito’s favourite designers include works from Allanah Hill, Cristian Lacroix and Samoan designer Paula Chan. And now he’ll get the chance to be many others favourite when he takes the stage as part of Sydney Fashion week.
“I am taking a leap of faith and join this year. It costs a lot of money but I believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he says.
“I have eight models departing from Australia in May until October to compete in Asia and Europe so that’s an even bigger project.”
Tito plans to take Lavashe Couture to France and Italy and has already been invited back to Greece where his work was recognised in a competition last year.
“I’ve been invited back to Athens in July this year and will be taking five of my gowns to Italy in September,” he says.
“Things are looking brighter. Who knows what the future holds but with a positive mind and strong will, anything is possible.”