The San Fernando Fashion Week 2011 runway event on Sunday 26th June finally saw the island of Trinidad making a contribution to this year’s Caribbean fashion season. With Tobago having stepped into a spotlight of its own introducing the first Tobago Fashion Weekend in May, along with the recent conclusion of Jamaica’s world-renowned Caribbean Fashion Week 2011, many were wondering when Trinidad would host a major event.
Honestly speaking, the production of San Fernando Fashion Week was not without its ‘hiccups’, which one must highlight as issues to be made note of and taken into consideration in the planning of future events on this organization’s behalf. One such issue was the matter of accommodating media publications and their representatives, who were more or less forgotten or altogether ignored throughout the production of Sunday’s show, as well as the attempted last-minute changes to certain agreements with said media. This, however, brings to light a greater issue within the local fashion industry regarding the treatment of media on a whole, which will be addressed in due time in a separate piece.
In terms of runway and designer collections, San Fernando Fashion Week did certainly offer a plethora of creativity, showcasing designers from not only Trinidad, but as far as the Bahamas to the north of the Caribbean and Guyana, as well as Canada. Seventeen collections graced the catwalk, which admittedly made for a very long showcase, but not without its peaks.
Children’s clothing line GEOPA opened the show with an adorable selection of child models that practically owned the catwalk. The confidence and raw potential of the mini divos and divas alike definitely stole the show to the point of almost distracting from the colourful and both age- and style-appropriate clothing on display. Models beware; your careers are at stake with these rising stars!
Design powerhouse MEILING showcased an all-white selection from the Grand Riviere collection, described as ‘deceptively effortless designs’, which of course the designer is known for and always delivers on. Easy-fitting pieces were the order of the day, including signature details and embellishment such as lace overlays and men’s shirts by ANTHONY REID.
PETER ELIAS’ bohemian/indie-inspired collection included a range of prints from paisley to Indian, combined with simple cuts and shapes in terms of patterns to result in relaxed, easy fitting pieces.
The presence of a store showcasing its merchandise on the runway confused many in the audience, who couldn’t help but wonder why TOXIC BOUTIQUE had been included in the lineup showing pieces that were neither designed nor created by any designer, but rather brought in from abroad to sell, one can only assume from a mass-production factory. Fashion Week was neither the time nor place to showcase a boutique, regardless of the appeal of some of the individual pieces.
JULIET BERNARD had some great plus-sized pieces in her lineup, beginning the monochrome trend that continued throughout the night. We also loved the white full-length skirt with black detailing worn by child model and supermodel-in-the-making Jenelle Allenden.
The monochrome and neutral palette continued with DESIGNER LOOK, with some well-put-together outfits in autumn colour combinations to boot, as well as a few Indian-inspired items.
Liselle Peters opened the PASSION FRUIT DESIGNS collection with a fantastic well-fitting sequined bikini that embodies everything that we love about this label. Always a CFstyle favourite, designer Bernadette Bedard did not disappoint with this sexy line of swimwear. Bear in mind that these designs are not for the faint-of-heart or mind, but if you love the look-at-me factor, then this is the label for you! Fit, cut, colour and drama – PASSION FRUIT bikinis come highly recommended by CFstyle.com!
CFstyle was pleased to see that ZADD & EASTMAN did not opt to show the same collection for the third time in just a month, as well received as it was in Tobago and Jamaica. The San Fernando showcase included a great selection from the hand-painted signature pieces, sadly not necessarily new, but likeable all the same, with some flattering sheer blouses and patterned skirts. The sequined brown skirt was somewhat incongruous to the rest of the collection, which had a very earthy feel with the cream and brown palette and twigs and dried leaf headpieces to accentuate the theme.
One of the evening’s jewels was the PILAR collection by designer Anya Ayoung-Chee. It was a pleasure to watch this perfectly styled and cohesive collection, which included the best-fitting bottoms of the night in terms of shorts and trousers. The colour palette was perfectly edited, with highlights of bright red patterned satin and chiffon among more muted base colours. One point worth mentioning – overheard by a potential customer – was that the red shorts were the perfect length and very sexy, but there was disappointment in the use of an elasticated waistband instead of a fly front, which made the garment look more like it should be paired with a camisole in the bedroom than worn outdoors. Otherwise, the rompers were heavenly, with elements of draping that flattered the body. Overall, this was a very wearable and chic collection, with pieces one could see oneself wearing both locally and abroad, which is indicative of the collection’s success.
The second half of the evening began with familiar pieces from the CAFD @ UTT students. See the CFstyle review of the Academy’s work here
The HEATHER JONES collection left much to be desired in terms of presentation and styling, as well as the actual pieces on show. A group of male models wearing the Caribbean Airlines uniform, designed by Jones, lined both sides of the runway shoulder-to-shoulder for the entire presentation, thereby blocking the view of the dresses that followed. The objective of doing this was lost on many, who felt that the uniforms had no place being on show at the event, or at least in that way. Furthermore, the jackets and trousers seemed to be made of very different fabrics, either in two varying shades of black, or possibly black and navy blue, which made little sense. As for the dresses themselves, one patron in particular expressed to CFstyle their disappointment at having to see previous work instead of something new, feeling offended that the designer had not put together a proper collection for the event. Rather, a selection of random dresses with signature Heather Jones flower embellishment, as well as three wedding gowns with mismatched printed fabric veils to close, was on display. We did, however, love the white evening dress with plunging neckline and back, decorated with blue and pink flower print, which was youthful yet elegant and fit the model perfectly.
Guyanese designer Carol Fraser presented her line AQUAMARINE, a series of basic dresses in neutral and water tones, heavily embellished with pebbles and seashells. The practicality and wearability factor of this collection was in question, as there was more of an arts ‘n’ craft element to the pieces as opposed to ‘fashion’, I believe due to the overly literal translation of Nature rather than a clever allusion or suggestion through detail. The fabric with which the garments were made had a great deal of potential had it been used to create detailing in and of itself.
AKEEL WILLIAMS presented his collection following a descriptive intro containing phrases such as ‘fit, cut and suitability’; ‘edgy yet wearable’; ‘drama and sophistication’ and ‘practical colours’, which left the crowd – and CFstyle – with high expectations, hoping that the designer would be able to deliver. An awkward music transition made for a slightly shaky start, but the collection was not disappointing. This designer is one to watch for simple yet elegant jersey cuts – Trinidad has yet to crown a designer King or Queen of jersey, which makes Akeel Williams a strong contender – in dark colours of black, grey and blue that flatter the figure. However, there is ample room for improvement as edges were often unfinished (one of the advantages of using jersey is that it does not fray, but a finished edge is always appreciated) and some of the tighter dresses were clearly difficult to walk in for a few of the models, who stumbled on occasion as they came down the catwalk. That said, with the right machinery and more practice on the editing of a final garment, CFstyle definitely has Akeel Williams as a designer to look out for.
SALEEM SAMUEL’s collection was accessorized and embellished by accessories designer Afiya Bishop [LOUD by Afiya Bishop] and promised to take the audience on a journey through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s… a mega task for one collection, which perhaps could have worked to a more concentrated theme or decade. Although the fabric and colour choices within the flamboyant womenswear on show were somewhat questionable, the menswear certainly showed promise in terms of cut and fit, which is a direction that we would definitely like to see this designer take, as well as a move that could bring in the real business to the label. Another aspect of the womenswear that needs consideration in the future is that the pieces should look as good going as they do coming – that is, many of the dresses were incredibly detailed in the front – a plethora of pleats and three-dimensional shapes – only to reveal a basic dress pattern cut from the back with little to no detail in terms of interesting style lines, backlines or embellishment.
DERON ATTZS showed the best-fitting men’s shirts of the night. The womenswear was rather basic and unexciting in terms of cut and detail, with the green-on-white spotted fabric print clearly being the forefront of the collection. Certain details in this collection did not add to the pieces and should have been edited, such as the satin green ribbon that edged the skirts of some of the cotton dresses. There was also the question of fit with regards to the female form, in particular the bust of a flared halter dress. However, the two pairs of white shorts that did show in the womenswear section were, in contrast, very well constructed and seemed to fit the models well.
The lineup presented by PARADISE BIKINIS was somewhat confusing with regards to collection cohesion, something we believe to be a key factor when presenting any collection. From prints to solids to mismatched fabric tones between the tops and bottoms of the bikinis, there was sadly no real colour or fabric direction in this presentation. This collection was indeed flashy and look-at-me, with feather embellishment on the bikini tops and sequin detail on many of the pieces, bringing the wearability factor into question. This is however, the place to go should you desire a custom-made Carnival Monday outfit, and the designer would do very well business-wise in this arena. One point most definitely worth mentioning is that Paradise Bikinis had superb fit on the bottoms – a difficult task – flattering every model that walked the runway.
To close the show, fellow Next Generation Award winner [Islands of the World Fashion Week 2010], DAVID ROLLE of the Bahamas, presented a collection of daring outfits including tops trimmed with bulky red fringe and tassles. It was evident that this is a young designer who is still finding his voice within the fashion world, as many of the pieces had a ‘student/novice’ feel to them, but this is not to be taken as a negative, rather a platform from which to grow. We appreciated the clever shorts illusion on a grey lace hooded jumpsuit, which indicated use of pattern and style lines in a clever tongue-in-cheek manner. Rolle’s Japanese-inspired draped and tailored trousers were – in a word – divine, bringing to mind similar work by fashion legend Vivienne Westwood. If there were any direction to advise the Bahamian to take, this kind of draped tailoring would be it. Sophisticated yet youthful, and definitely something that would be successful on international catwalks, those trousers were the star pieces that had us wanting more.
Points Worth Mentioning:
It was refreshing to see designers starting to take music more seriously as a key feature in their presentation in terms of setting the mood and accommodating the collection theme – notably MEILING, PETER ELIAS and ZADD & EASTMAN, but especially PILAR for mixing/looping the track effortlessly to fit the length of the presentation and also building the music throughout.
Another key point is that of collection cohesion, which many designers still fail to miss the mark sadly. Alternatively, most designers seem to choose the easy option of collection cohesion by using the same fabric throughout the collection when in fact, cohesion is more than this. We’d like to see designers further develop their themes and inspirations by learning to tell a story through their design. This is why we have different fashion seasons to tell different stories. Again, PILAR stole the show for us with the perfect editing eye, showing just the right amount of fabrics, colours and prints that were tied together throughout the outfits to demonstrate effectively how different pieces can still have elements that show they are from the same collection.
Speaking of fabric, prints are becoming the sole energy behind some designers’ work, eliminating the expertise and thought that goes into construction and finding new ways of creating interesting detail. It seems more and more that many designers are hiding behind beautifully printed fabric, shying away from the detail and fit that is shaped through clever pattern cutting. There were many pieces that were superficially brilliant, but only due to the distraction of the print. Otherwise, the patterns were often the same in what should have been completely different collections, with basic darting, style lines, necklines and flared skirts. We hope that designers take a page out of the book of the CAFD @ UTT students, who are really taking tailoring and pattern cutting in new directions, evident in their exhibition show at NAPA. Next year’s graduates are most definitely a force to be reckoned with; current designers take note.
Finally, it is somewhat disappointing to see old pieces from designers, especially at a Fashion Week, the aim of which is to drive fashion in a new direction with every season. Though the Caribbean may be too small to have two fashion seasons annually with resort collections in the interim, as is the international standard, it is still necessary to put one’s best foot forward and dazzle the audience with new concepts and designs during an event like this. Fashion Week is a designer’s time to shine and show the world what they can do – you are, after all, only as good as your last show.
CFstyle would like to show its appreciation to those designers who did bring something new to the table, taking an active role in shaping fashion and style for the 2011 fashion season.
- Darcel de Vlugt, Editor-in-Chief -
CFstyle would like to give special thanks to Events Live 101 for partnering with us to provide the live online stream of San Fernando Week 2011