Mana Cuda (left) and Meg Cuda (right) from Cuda. Image supplied.
Mana Cuda and Meg Cuda are back with a reimagined version of their former Cuda Sisters label, this time simply called Cuda. First launching in 2009, the best friends brought their unmistakable style of vivid colour and glimmering sequins to their first collection Dance the Forbidden Dance which was released in 2011. Several eye-catching ranges which shared their vibrant style of dressing followed before the label took a hiatus. The recent launch of Cuda sees Mana and Meg reunite on a new collection called Lovesick which stays true to their colourful ethos. Cuda currently has a pop up shop at Auckland’s Ponsonby Central where shoppers can check out their latest range until 3rd April and it’s also available to peruse online.
We caught up with Mana and Meg to find out more about their collection, what inspires them and what you would never catch them wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
My palms are sweaty……. my heart is racing…….the butterflies in my body are turning into bats….. love me, love me not……. confusion….despair…..I can’t sleep……. I can’t think……. I can’t eat…. I’m falling deep into a funnel of love.
Our current and first collection as Cuda, embodies the rollercoaster of feelings and emotions one experiences with a lovesick heart. The moments of power and seduction that are met with despair and confusion. A collision of colour and mood exhaled from deep within. Then the feeling of strength, independence and empowerment you receive when you come out the other side. The designs for Lovesick hint at extravagance, with floor length hemlines and excessive frill details. We combined this feeling with oversized silhouettes, portraying the experience of stealing your boyfriend’s jacket, or walking home in a stolen t-shirt the morning after.
What made you become a designer?
We both come from similar backgrounds. Separately we grew up making, creating, dressing up and putting on shows for anyone that would watch. Born and raised in the arts with a history of strong female creatives. Families that formed generations of women artists, painters, costume makers, theatre artists and performers, it was only natural for us to feel at home in a creative role. Our combined determination and the lives we have lived, have gifted us the positive fighting spirit to never give up on a dream.
What inspires you?
Life, love, music, people, films, experiences, stories. We are storytellers. It is how we communicate and how we plan for anything we do.
It always starts with a story. In that story there will be characters, there will be a soundtrack, there will be scenery and of course there will be clothes. It is how we visualise and how we are inspired. The story constantly evolves with the clothes and the clothes evolve with the story. We are extremely lucky that we were able to find a like mind in each other, always dreaming and laughing together whilst inspiring each other throughout the process.
Look from Cuda’s Lovesick collection.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
Our style is an expressive extension of our personalities, a freedom to convey the many feelings and emotions of being a woman. Wearing an extravagant gown one day and a worn-in hoodie the next, or both at the same time. We love it all!
A fundamental signature in our style that carries through in our designs, is that we’re colourful. We are influenced by our heritage and the Pacific land we live in, always excited to use and wear colour and print, dripping in sequins whenever possible.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
One of our favourite all-time purchases was a beautiful vintage silk scarf purchased in Thailand. After being taken to a house outside of Bangkok we were met by our friend and her gang of super cool Thai rockabillies. They all had huge Elvis quiffs and t-shirts with sleeves rolled up, hiding packs of cigarettes. They kept offering us bottles of coca cola as we sat in a room looking through boxes of vintage treasures. One of those treasures was a silk scarf that has been a cherished piece since. Now too delicate to be worn, it’s kept folded away in Meg’s wardrobe. We do bring it into our studio often though, to go over the stunning colour palette and bold prints.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
For both of us our first response to this question was a coat. It is the clothing item that you invest in as it is a garment needed for practicality and functionality, as well as fashion. A coat will finish every outfit and will last a lifetime if you buy the right one…. but when we listen to our hearts…
What we truly think you need to invest in is that garment that makes you feel incredible. It could be anything, it may be an oversized jacket, an embellished leotard, or an exquisite dress. But if it makes you feel amazing, don’t stop to think about where you are going to wear it. It doesn’t matter at that point. Feel phenomenal in the moment and unapologetically wear it anywhere, out to dinner, in your living room watching a movie, or dancing whilst doing your dishes.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Clothing is an accessory to your life story – Wear what you want, when you want, how you want, wherever you want!
Looks from Cuda’s Lovesick collection.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Our launch. How crazy is that? It has been such a turbulent couple of years facing obstacles we could never have imagined. So for us, being right here right now, reunited with each other, our collection and our dream is huge. One of the benefits of the last couple of years is that it has pushed us all to become far more present. Planning has never been harder, we’ve had no choice but to live day to day, moment to moment.
The fast tracked official launch of Cuda took place with one of our dresses being selected for Melissa Leong to wear in the semi final of Masterchef Australia. We were separated by the Pacific Ocean at the time, but sat on facetime with each other squealing in excitement, seeing our dress on prime time Australian television at the same time as welcoming the beginning of this adventure.
What can’t you live without?
Family, nature, pets, travel, sleep, laughter, dancing, chocolate, wine, bhuja and best friends. Many Cuda plans have been formed around this collection of our life’s necessities.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Sorry to all the white sock wearers out there, but you will definitely never catch us wearing white socks, they bring us bad luck.