Who Is Afa Ah Loo? New Details About The 'Project Runway' Contestant From Samoa

Photo: bravo
Who Is Afa Ah Loo? New Details About The 'Project Runway' Contestant From Samoa

Since its inception in 2004, Project Runway has given designers a creative outlet to show their talent. Though the series was originally hosted by Heidi Klum and featured the amazing Tim Gunn as a mentor to the contestants, last fall the two announced their departure from the show.

Thankfully, season 17 of Project Runway has supermodel Karlie Kloss added to the judges, with Nina Garcia returning, and fashion designer Christian Siriano (who won season four!) as the designers’ mentor.

The series premiered on March 14th, returning to Bravo for the first time since season five. So far, three contestants have been eliminated, bringing the current total to 13. And part of enjoying the show is getting to hear the backstory of the contestants, one of whom is standing out.

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Who is Afa Ah Loo? You may want to watch out for this designer and his work.

1. He’s Samoan.

Afa was born and raised in Lotopa and Falelima, villages in Samoa.

2. His mother introduced him to fashion.

Growing up, Afa enjoyed the way his mom dressed, particularly the florals and colors of Samoan culture. His mother sewed most of the clothing for him and his siblings.

3. He’s a self-taught designer.

According to him, his first project was making a dress for his sister. But how did he know he wanted to go into fashion?

In high school, he was forced to take a sewing class because he was late for class registration, and learned how to sew mittens. While it would take students a whole term to complete, Afa finished his in just a few days! This sparked his interest even further.

4. His mother’s passing him inspired him to pursue fashion.

His mom passed away in 2014, the day before he was to fly to New Zealand for his first show. Remembering his mom, he said, “My mother was a very stylish woman. She loved bright colors, loved to wear earrings. She loved to dance. She was always a bubbly happy go-getter kind of woman.”

After her death, he decided to follow his passion and start a business. “I wanted to carry on the legacy that she had left for me,” he said.

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5. He designed for Fiji Fashion Week.

And he subsequently became the most talked about designer for his “Amioga Samoa” line. After Fiji Fashion Week, he was invited to feature the line in LA Fashion Week. Two of the pieces were also featured in the Miss World 2015 Pageant in China

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However, Afa almost pulled out of Fiji Fashion Week after seeing everyone else’s designs during a rehearsal. “I didn’t think my pieces were as strong as I thought they would be, and after seeing what the other designers had to show, I didn’t want to show mine,” he recalled.

But his friend convinced him to stay, and the collection received praise from fashion bloggers and designers alike. “Never in a million years did I dream that I would get so much appreciation,” he said.

6. Since then, he’s had quite a career.

Though he originally attended Brigham Young University in Hawaii, he currently lives in Utah. He was also chosen to create a look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, which “showcases the power and potential of up-and-coming artisan designers.” He used Samoan materials and was eventually displayed at Buckingham Palace in an exhibit created by Vogue’s Editor-at-Large, Hamish Bowles.

7. He started a foundation.

Afa founded Alofa Humanitarian, an organization that “gives back to underage girls who have been sexually abused or raped.” The group is taking a trip to Samoa in September with “care bags” for moms and children, including reusable feminine hygiene pads, clothing items, items for childbirth preparation, toiletries, and baby items.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.