Meiling’s end-of-year runway show – entitled ‘Kites’ – took place in the elegantly decorated Casablanca ballroom in the MovieTowne complex, on 15th November. An interesting change from the usual Carlton Savannah Hotel location, the designer kept the format of an unconventional runway and the standard of great presentation that she is known for.
Upon entering the venue, complimentary cocktails were being served to attendees before they were seated in the vast ballroom. The runway served to optimize on the media presence, allowing the many photographers to capture the essence of this collection the way it deserved.
As is often the case with a Meiling showcase, the viewer is taken on a journey through the designer’s mind. This particular journey began with bright, garish colours and boldly patterned fabrics, designed to grab your attention from the get-go. This part of the collection was first shown at the Bombay Dreams event earlier this month. Silks were unconventionally blended with checkered ‘picnic’ patterns to create out-of-the-box clothing to suit any individual with a taste for flair. Indeed, this designer’s clothing is always comprised of great separates that work to suit every taste, but can also be combined with other separates within the collection to create something unique.
Electric tones of pink, purple and blue dominated the first section of the showcase. Cherry red was the colour of choice in the quirky hairstyles, lips and footwear (beautiful shoes!) for the female models. The styling, by Karina Jeffrey, was fun and youthful, though at times incongruent with the flow of the collection, which progressed into more sophisticated pieces as the evening went on.
The flared skirt took centre stage in this collection, by itself or as part of fun, feminine dresses. Strategically placed ruffle details were also prominent, as in this electric blue pencil skirt with peek-a-boo checked fabric, worn by Soowan Bramble (below).
A well-fitting pant is hard to find from local designers, but Meiling has always executed a great fit and flattering cut in her line. Such was the case with one of our favourite outfits in this section, worn by popular model Lisa See Tai - a fitted blazer in a deep red hue with a black and silver toned cropped trouser. Even though we may not have worn the ensemble as it was presented, the ruffled chiffon top in a gorgeous turquoise shade also caught our eye as a great piece to pair with a tailored white trouser. Tobagonian model Sheniqua Francis looked stunning in an obviously Indian-inspired turquoise and fuchsia empire gown with gold detail.
Simpler cotton pieces then made an appearance following the opulent fabrics that began the show. In bold zigzag prints of blue and orange, the pieces could easily be incorporated into a daytime wardrobe. The silhouettes of these outfits were suitably typical of the Caribbean climate, clearly allowing for comfort and the occasional cool breeze.
There were many yoked shift dresses in this collection. We loved that they had pockets hidden in the seams, small details that allow fashion and function to merge nicely.
Another yellow outfit that had patrons applauding was once again worn by Lisa See Tai – a perfectly fitting lemon yellow pedal pusher with a sheer draped top, which made for an effortless look. This outfit looked as good going as it did coming, if not better, with the back of the top completely bare. This made for a perfect balance between sexy and sophisticated, and we would have loved to see this in a dress version.
Cue some lovely, albeit typically Caribbean dresses of a kaftan/maxi dress nature, which we didn’t mind only because they sell. With the current popularity of Meiling’s protégée, Project Runway Season 9 winner Anya Ayoung-Chee, it seems that the kaftan is back in a big way, only this time it’s being catered to a much younger demographic. Cowl back draping put a fun twist on traditional kaftan shapes in this collection. Similarly, a few of the pieces walked away to reveal eye-catching detail where the sleeves met at the back to create an origami-like feel.
It is difficult to be partial to a dropped waist dress, of which there were quite a few shown in Kites. Firstly, they are reminiscent of schoolgirl days. At the same time, the cut and seams in such an outfit are so specific that only one body type will truly be able to carry it – the model. If only we were all born with legs for days, then the lengthening of the torso in a dropped waist dress would not be such a bad thing. That being said, on the right body and with the right styling, those pieces would work just fine.
Following the black and beige section was our pick of the night – cloudy tones of blues and purples, very subtle and almost like tie-dye but not quite. A deep silver three-quarter harem pant was among our favourite pieces, again with a fantastic fit.
Following this plethora of colour was the white and black tailoring perfection that the Meiling name is associated with. Crisp white shirts with interesting twists were the designer’s way of evolving a conventional item of clothing. Drawstring detailing on the hems gave some pieces silhouette-enhancing capabilities by creating a bubble hem if desired. The exaggerated collar also stole the spotlight more than once. One of our favourite pieces of the night was a shirtdress kaftan – beautifully original and perfectly constructed, this piece is the alternative to stealing your boyfriend’s shirt.
For the flirty fashionista preparing for the upcoming Carnival season, we loved this black sheer romper with monochrome obi belt:
The menswear that appeared throughout the collection was somewhat overshadowed by the variety of the women’s wear. Anthony Reid chose a mainly neutral palette, which at times did not match the feel of the other pieces on show. However, this is not to say that the male designer’s contribution was lacking. Indeed, we were particularly partial to the paneled shirts in this selection, which were offered up in wine, blue, green and brown tones. We also enjoyed the whimsical nature of other shirts with plackets, button stands and collars in contrasting colours to the main shirt bodice.
Kites proved to be an extremely diverse collection, occasionally a little too diverse perhaps for one showcase, but altogether beautifully executed and very well put together. As usual, Meiling, her staff and her team have maintained high standards in show production, with a great choice of venue, music befitting the showcase and the models doing a wonderful job of proving why this designer is yet to be matched. Creative minds would do well to take a page from Meiling’s book on how fashion and business should be combined to offer the complete package.