Caribbean Fashion Week

Life has gone back to ‘normal’ in Jamaica after the events that made international news headlines. ‘Dudus’ – the man who some say is a community hero and some say an international narco-terrorist – has still not been found, after a security incursion that left 70+ people dead. A One Million Dollar reward for his capture was upped to Five Million after a poll indicated that 67% of the population would NOT tell the cops if they knew where he was hiding.

So confirming ‘normal’ as the mode, Caribbean Fashion Week was just the tonic to revitalise the spirits of Kingston’s fashionistas and party people. It pushed the negative headlines off the fromt page, replacing them with the beautiful faces and figures of Nell Robinson, Jaunell McKenzie, new girl Sedene Blake and hunk Oraine Barrett. Wednesday night’s launch party was crowded with the top models, would-be models, past models and beauty queens, not forgetting the good looking men who like to keep such company.

Then on Friday night at the National Indoor Auditorium three nights of beautiful Caribbean fashions unfolded down the runway, as colour, fabric and style mingled to captivate and entice potential buyers with an extensive buffet of beautiful clothes. It’s hard to single out any designer, as we all have our favourites. But these were mine.

Keena Linton has made black lace her trademark, in some dresses that were sophisticated and classy, yet daring. Not content with being an ace designer, Keena has also pioneered the hugely popular College Lifestyle TV show and also a glossy magazine to go with it. Big moves for this young lady. Minka, the lady with the clicking fingers, took her crochet art to new heights that awed the audience again with wonder at her fashion inventiveness and technique.

Meiling, the Trinidadian couturier, was simply show-stopping, with an all-black collection that showed inventiveness and intricate technique in a series of extreme tops that were as dramatic coming as going. Biggy was his usual shocking self, with a series of dancehall designs that needed wearers as confident and as good-bodied as the models showing them.

Hugh Johnson’s Yardman Style always has some new T-shirts for men and well-cut jeans. He did not disappoint this year. Sandra Kennedy stepped up to the plate for full figures women, with a collection that was simple and well cut, bringing roars of approval from the audience. Robert Brown of The Cloth gave a short lecture before his collection began, asking all to attend next year’s CFW wearing only Caribbean clothes. His unusual collection of wrapped garments was innovative and adventurous. Mutamba’s collection of tye-dyed and Afrocentric swirls of soft fabrics received tumultuous applause, ‘my best collection ever’ she said.

Some nice pleasures for CFW attendees were the Hagen Dazs booth dispensing sample scoops of their delicious ice cream with toppings, whipped cream and smiles, and the Red Bull and Smirnof Vodka bars sensibly located at the rear of the main VIP seats that provided an informal party atmosphere throughout the evenings’ shows.

In addition to soundtrack and intermission music by Mutabaruka as DJ, CFW featured live musical performances each night. US singer Johnny Gill took the stage on Saturday night, while on Sunday Morgans Heritage’s Una Morgan made her first appearance as a solo artist, performing tracks from her upcoming neo-reggae-soul album, then was later joined by brother Gramps, who led the audience in a sing along with some of the group’s hits – both a fitting end to the excellent 3 nights of fashion and fun.

CFW10 lived up to its tradition of presenting the best of Caribbean fashion, influenced by the many cultures that have blended to make a unique people whose lives are shaped by the sun, the brilliant seas and the blue skies. Congrats CFW; on now to the next 10 years!


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