Finally, the moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived with the first set of graduates from the CAFD @ the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT). Following last year’s spectacular preview of the students’ work with the exhibition held at the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain, everyone has been highly anticipating the unveiling of what Caribbean designers will have to offer to the fashion industry in coming years.
Once again held at NAPA, the CAFD warmly welcomed media and industry professionals, as well as other guests, with a wonderful and delightfully simple cocktail hour thanks to Bailey’s. The turnout was fantastic, and many familiar and well-respected fashion personalities were seen in the crowd, including designers Meiling Esau, Shaun Griffith-Perez and Nigel Eastman, as well as Christopher Nathan, fashion editors Kelly McFarlane of The Exclusive Look Magazine, Mel Gabriel of Trinidad Lookbook and Laura Dowrich of METRO magazine and the Guardian newspaper. Also in fashionable attendance was a CFstyle favourite, jewellery designer Crystal Antoine of Cocoa Vintage. Not to be missed was West Indies cricketer Darren Ganga, whom we had the pleasure of being seated next to for the show, looking very dapper in a black suit with purple shirt.
Fashion Editors Kelly McFarlane [TeL Magazine], Mel Gabriel [Trinidad Lookbook] and Darcel de Vlugt [CFstyle.com]; West Indies cricketer Darren Ganga; and at the head of the runway, designers Robert Young [The Cloth] and Meiling Esau [Meiling] just before the show
In accommodating the array of attendees, some sacrifice was made in terms of runway width, which proved to be somewhat cumbersome during the show, especially for the more flamboyant pieces. Furthermore, the awkward layout of the runway itself – which we understood to be necessary in order for everyone to get a good look at the collections – served to give the show less flow than last year’s display, which ran smoothly and remains one of CFstyle’s top fashion exhibitions in Trinidad to date. Models appeared in quick succession, at times walking directly behind one another on the runway, followed by a lengthy pause as viewers on one side of the room had to wait for them to exit the lengthy runway before being able to view further collections. The quick pace of the models also made it difficult at times to truly appreciate some of the more spectacular pieces with intricate detail or handwork.
As for the designers themselves, they breezed by in a flurry at the end of each collection, seemingly unwilling to pause for a true photo opportunity with their finale models. This was a definite shame, as I personally wish they had taken the opportunity to soak up that wonderful moment on the runway when months of hard work and sleepless nights suddenly make all the sense in the world. Furthermore, for those of notable mention, they deserved to take a moment to soak up our appreciation for their work.
The work on show at A Cut Above consisted of six-outfit collections, ranging from Spring/Summer collections to Fall/Winter and everything in between. Some designers rose above the rest with their attention to detail, fit and construction. Having said that, it is only fair to commend the tutors at the Academy for teaching their students about fit and form. There were very few in this bunch that could be faulted for their construction techniques and attention to fit. Furthermore, in a region of the world where our body types ere on the less Western/European side, it is truly refreshing and promising to see a number of designers who can produced tailored garments worth investing in.
My only real qualms about some of the garments that were chosen to represent the skills of the graduates were the shocking amount of plain black finale pieces, which were often anti-climactic in comparison to the rest of the individual’s collection; and also the sometimes never-ending silk dupioni fabric selection, as this is a special occasion fabric often associated with older, ‘mother-of-the-bride’ types, which tends to be exhausted on Caribbean runways, as beautiful as it may be. That being said, with an editing eye and a re-visit to the fabric selection in those few cases, the garments and ideas themselves were very clear and well presented.
All in all, there is a lot of hope and promise for the future of the Caribbean fashion industry, having seen the results of the last four years from the CAFD students. Throughout the week, we will be bringing you all of the work with a running commentary on our personal favourites here at CFstyle.com. Also look out for the Editor’s Picks on Facebook to see the most innovative, wearable and desirable wardrobe pieces for the coming fashion seasons!
To the students of the first graduating class of the CAFD, we congratulate you, wish you the best of luck in your onward journeys and truly look forward to working with you in the future!