Inspired by the natural beauty of Polynesia and her Samoan heritage, Agnes Loheni is a quarter of the label Mena, which offers contemporary twists on the traditional - for winter, a focus on Polynesian prints and lace that draws on the traditional tatau. With her sisters Jackie, Gina and Charlene, she launched the label in 2002, naming it after their seamstress mother who had taught and encouraged her daughters to create their own clothes from a young age. Now selling into Samoa, Hawaii and Japan, Loheni, who focuses on the design side of the label, recently added textiles and soft furnishings to the Mena stable, including screen-printed and hand-blocked cushion covers and tablecloths. Loheni, who is based between NZ and Samoa, talks us through some of her favourite things, from the beauty of malu, the traditional tatau of the Samoan women, to an inherited baby blanket.
10 FAVOURITE THINGS
1. The malu
This is the traditional tatau of the Samoan woman. It starts from just below the knee up to the upper thigh. The design is typically finer and delicate than the male tatau version called pe'a. I think it looks both strong and feminine. Two of my sisters have a malu. I'm looking forward to getting mine done too.
2. Kupe'e hair piece
Handmade from dried pandanus leaves, these are so pretty and make great statement headpieces.
3. Elei cushions
A recent addition to the Mena offerings, Elei cushions are an easy way to add a Pasifika flavour to your decor. I have many of these scattered around the house as they are a great way to make a room warm and welcoming.
4. Fala clutch bag
I love the Polynesian-style handcrafted mats and bags. My favourite at the moment are the brightly coloured clutch bags handwoven in Samoa from dried pandanus leaves. They are a fabulous mix of natural and contemporary design.
One of my favourite fine dining restaurants in Auckland, Merediths is my go-to restaurant for a stylish place to enjoy beautiful food and great service.
6. John Poynton artwork
I have a few scenic prints from English artist John Poynton. Sadly he died last year having lived as an artist in Samoa since the 1970s. He was well known on the island, regularly seen walking the central streets of Apia selling his beautiful idyllic Samoan landscape and lifestyle prints.
7. The Magic Bullet
Where would I be without my Magic Bullet! It was a Mother's Day gift from about five years ago and has been the most convenient kitchen appliance ever, constantly in use in our household making smoothies, shakes, pureed baby food, dips ... the list goes on.
8. Baby blanket
I've wrapped all my babies in this lovely white knit and tassel baby blanket since my first baby 13 years ago. It was given to me by my mum. It's so soft, pretty and delicate. It will stay in the family to swaddle my future grandkids.
9. Chandelier earrings
I love big, bright chandelier earrings. My favourite at the moment are a pair of bright lime green Tagua earrings from Peru.
10. Winged armchairs
About 10 years ago I bought a matching pair of winged armchairs from a second-hand dealer in Wellington where I was living at the time. These chairs came with me when I moved to Samoa and then back to Auckland. They are so classic and super-comfortable as well. I had them re-upholstered in chocolate brown to match my lounge suite. Over the years my kids have covered them in chocolate as well! I'm thinking that I'll recover them again soon in a bright funky graphic print.
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