BAHAMA MOMMA! The Bahamas welcomes Nick Verreos and David Paul with a Junkanoo performer ( Bahamian New Year's Festival)
The Islands Of the World Fashion Week were not just about the NIKOLAKI show--although for us, that was a really important part, of course! The "week" encompassed four days worth of fashion shows from over 30 designers from the Caribbean (the Bahamas, Cuba, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia) Fiji, Indonesia and Madagascar, as well as featured designers, Danish-born Peter Ingwersen of NOIR Illuminati II, LA Designer-to-the-stars Kevan Hall, and myself. We ended each Fashion Week days' worth of shows with a "Premiere Show". Everyone Say Cheese: Islands Of The World Producers , Organizers, Judges, Designers: Tomas Frenes, Nick Verreos , Kevan Hall, Susan Stein, Owen Bethel, and David PaulFeatured Designers:
Peter Ingwersen opened the Fashion Week's festivities on Wednesday evening with his very modern take on sportswear, shown at the expansive Atlantis Resort Fashion Week runway stage. Gorgeous silky blouses, fitted jackets and ultra-skinny pants highlighted his show--all cut beautifully. My NIKOLAKI collection, was on Friday night at the "Old World" Colonial Hilton, and as I reported in my last posting, was a huge success (if I don't say so myself!) .NIKOLAKI Spring 2009 Collection Tableaux of ModelsKevan Hall then ended the week by showing last year's Spring '08 Collection, inspired by Africa and Safari back at the Atlantis Resort Ballroom Runway. Judging: Throughout the week, I was privileged enough to also be one of the judges of three special awards that would be later handed out at the Final Night's Festivities---the Sustainable Eco-Fashion, the Culture and Fashion Awards, and the Next-Gen Designer. My co-judges-in-fashion-crime were: Nole' Marin (of America's Next Top Model and judge of the new ABC show, True Beauty). He brought along his DIVA mom and friends and we immediately got along, like the kids from Gossip Girls! And my newly discovered "Fairy Godmother", Susan Stein, fashion editor of Palm Springs Life Magazine, and producer/director of Fashion Week El Paseo in Palm Desert.
It was a tough challenge to chose just one designer who would eventually win each award. We really wanted the Sustainable Eco-Fashion Award to reflect the use of sustainable natural fabrics and the use of proper and fair practices in terms of dying, sewing, labour, etc. In terms of the Culture and Fashion Award, I was interested in how effective the designer showcased their island, it's uniqueness and especially, use of local materials. The first night, we spent several hours looking over the designers' creations and then had to vote immediately, as guests waited anxiously for our results. It got a bit crazy backstage with designers fighting over whether or not they received enough "judges" time. I suggest that next time, we do it Project Runway style, and have a whole separate day of "Judging", like what I have done for the shows' castings in Los Angeles and Chicago: The judges at a table and the eligible designers coming up to us showing us why they should get the awards. Can I be the Tim Gunn of the bunch?Eco-Goddesses: Models in 2 of the Finalists' creations for the Sustainable Eco-Fashion Award
The winners were announced on the Final night after a prodigious fashion show highlighting the Finalists. It was like a Miss Universe Parade Of Nations Costume show, with some of the most gorgeous models the islands has to offer. It was certainly one of the best parts of my entire week in the Bahamas!Designer Queen Esther from St. Lucia, a colorful and vibrant woman with stupendous design talent, won the Sustainable Eco-Fashion with her John Galliano-like gown (see above) St. Vincent and The Grenadines native, Tamiko Browne won the other two awards, the Culture and Fashion as well as the Next-Gen Designer awards, which I was honored to have presented to her. Tamiko's bathing suit line was clearly our favorite in terms of the most wearable, sellable collection, and one that we could all easily see in Swimsuit boutiques from Miami to Papeete, Tahiti. Each winner received a gorgeous engraved Waterford Crystal vase.Velvet Seeds: St. Vincent and The Grenadines Jewelry Designer Ingrid John of Natural Beats
There were so many great designers we saw, but some of my other favorites included St. Vincent jewelry designer, Ingrid John of Natural Beats. Her necklaces, earrings and bracelets were beautiful, infusing natural ingredients native to her island nation. I photographed some of her jewelry, including FISH SCALE earrings (yep, you read that right!), and a VELVET SEED necklace, which has seeds, uniquely found in the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere!Hand-Sewn Pin Tucks: Close Up on the handwork of Cuban designer, Carmen FiolI also was amazed at the hand work of the dresses made by the octogenarian Cuban designer, Carmen Fiol. There was one dress with HUNDREDS of 1/8 of an inch pin tucks that she sewed BY HAND!!! I also enjoyed David Andre's Sea Sun and Sex (what a great name!) line. He hails from Haiti and we had a lot of fun discussing the FIERCE DIVA ex-wife of former Haiti dictator, Michelle Duvalier. Trust me, she will end up being the inspiration for one of my future collections... Next post, the parties......check back soon!