Fashion festival diary: creativity abounds

Big winners

Some of the big winners from last week’s Local Designer Showcase 2015:

1. Bermuda-born, London-based fashion designer Meagan Wellman walked away with the grand prize at last week’s event — a chance to show her collection at New York Fashion Week.

The 23-year-old said it was “a big honour” to be given the opportunity by Harlem’s Fashion Row, an American company looking to open doors in the fashion world for designers of colour.

“This really means a lot to me,” Ms Wellman said. “It’s like the break that I’ve been waiting for the past two years and it’s really exciting that I’m able to represent Bermuda internationally.

“When they announced my name on stage on Wednesday night I was really excited because it means I will get to show my collection in New York on this massive scale. In the meantime I’ll have to tidy up some of the pieces and get some completely remade because they’ve been worn by a lot of models and used by a lot of stylists already.

“Apart from that I pretty much have everything else ready. Then the models’ hair and make-up will be sorted on the New York side closer to the day.”

2. TABS owner Rebecca (Singleton) Hanson will be taking part in an upcoming internship with American fashion designer Rachel Roy.

She couldn’t hold back her excitement when she learnt about the opportunity.

“Obviously Rachel Roy is a huge deal and I’m excited to learn from her and have her mentor me as I grow my business internationally,” Ms Hanson said. “It was really nice to meet her [on her recent trip to Bermuda] and the advice I had from her and the other mentors as well you can’t put a price on that.

“These aren’t just people who are making the clothes — they are stylists and people writing about these collections as well. It was great to be able to learn more about how to style an outfit and what the top editors were saying about it. And I’m just really honoured that they saw potential in it.”

3. Aspiring fashion designer Brittany Wolffe won an internship with Interview Magazine for the summer of 2016.

The iconic publication was founded in the late 1960s by artist Andy Warhol and British journalist John Wilcock. It’s been one of the leading authorities for in-depth interviews with creative minds ever since.

Ms Wolffe said she was feeling “really happy, grateful and overwhelmed” in anticipation of the gig.

“It’s definitely a huge opportunity and I feel it can open so many doors,” she said. “It’s such a great learning experience. I’ve been told quite a bit about it, but you never really know what it will be like until you’re experiencing it for yourself.”

Ms Wolffe will be going off to study fashion design and business at London College of Contemporary Arts in the UK this autumn. Her ultimate dream? To own her own internationally-renown design business one day.

International models, designers and celebrities flocked to the Island last week for the Bermuda Fashion Festival 2015.

Lifestyle reporter Nadia Arandjelovic-Laws got to join in for some of the fun. On offer were free goodie bags, front row access to some of the week’s hottest shows and even an impromptu photo-op with some of the actresses.

The one downside? She didn’t get much sleep.

Day One — Hair & Beauty Show

I have to admit it. I know nothing about hair. My three styles include long dangly curls, a ponytail and bun if I’m feeling really fancy. So I had no idea what kinds of coifs to expect when I stepped into the Earl Cameron Theatre at City Hall on Monday night.

I was welcomed at the front doors of City Hall with a fun goodie bag filled with hair product samples and two shades of nail polish. The night was already off to a good start in my view! Then I took my seat at the back of the theatre with the rest of the local media — an entourage of male photographers and myself.

Moments later the show started with a Carnival-themed presentation by Elite Salon. Girls with colourful bikinis and vibrant face paint danced around the stage — their hair in long, bold extensions and wild styles. Some of the standouts were a tall, gorgeous lady sporting a head full of pink and blue curls and another model with a larger-than-life side bun.

I can’t go into all the different sets, but I definitely noticed some were more carefully thought-out than others. My personal favourite? Salon Viola’s artistic scene, which ended up walking away with first prize for the night. Models strutted on stage wearing all black — their ornate hair styles the primary focus. One model had what looked like a veil made of braids across her face. Another had braids on top of her head resembling a menorah.

Day Two — Local Designer Show

I arrived at Barr’s Park on Wednesday night a bit flustered. It had already been a busy night for me. Right after work I rushed to Tucker’s Point to see former Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Kate Betts share about her latest book, My Paris Dream. From there my husband had to cleverly manoeuvre us through traffic to get to the Local Designer’s Showcase on time.

Guests filed into the park dressed to impress. The front row was lined with recognisable faces like Smart Guy’s Essence Atkins (who happens to be drop dead gorgeous in person), the funny Terri Vaughn from The Steve Harvey Show and Soul Food’s talented star Malinda Williams. International stylists, magazine editors and the cast of television show BORN To Style were also seated in the front row.

I was impressed with a handful of pieces from each of the local designers, but was especially bowled over by Brittany Wolffe’s vintage, yet modern musings in Love Bomb. I suspect there will be much bigger things to come from the aspiring designer in the future. I’m excited to see what they’ll all do next.

Day Three — International Designer Show

Bermudian fashionista, Shiona Turini had done such an amazing job organising the Local Designer Show the night before, so I had high expectations going into Thursday night’s event. Luckily it didn’t disappoint. Zimbabwe-born designer Evelyn Lambert started the show off with a bang as of her first creation — a lime-green African-print skirt paired with a burnt-orange hued top — made its way down the runway. The collection was simply stunning — one of my favourite looks being the white-and-blue structured jacket worn with a sheer olive skirt. It probably doesn’t sound all that great, but in person it was flawless. From House of Shavi to Thomas Woodward, the collections were extremely well constructed and designed. California designer Adolfo Sanchez closed out the show with an array of gorgeous gowns he dreamed up. A leopard-print low back number caught my attention early on, but the show-stoppers were the two wedding dresses on show — a stunning ball gown number and a beaded, embroidered trumpet-style gown.

Day Four — Gombey Happy Hour

By this point in the week I was feeling really proud to be Bermudian. The City of Hamilton and its various partners had really upped the ante to provide the public with some amazing shows. But, truth be told, I was also a bit tired from all the long days and late nights. (My usual bed time is 10pm.) So when I heard Friday’s special happy hour event would be starting at 5.30pm at Fort Hamilton I was relieved to say the least.

I arrived promptly at 5.30pm with our photographer Akil Simmons. Unfortunately the rest of the other guests were running “fashionably late”. Only a sprinkling of other people managed to get there before 6.30pm. By the time the celebrity guests, models and designers arrived the energy in the space had dramatically picked up. Canapés were being passed out by Fourways wait staff — including stuffed mushrooms, pancakes topped with onion confit and crème fraîche, and pineapple chicken skewers. There was also live music and a performance by the Gombeys. My favourite part of the night? Getting to snap a quick picture with some of the famous actresses before turning in for an early night.

Day Five — Evolution Fashion Show

Unfortunately due to the rain and stormy weather, The City had to move Saturday night’s finale event to an inside venue. I heard there was an amazing light show planned for outside City Hall Car Park and imagine it would have been the perfect backdrop for the event, but as they say “the show must go on”.

It was a packed house at Ruth Seaton James Auditorium — in fact at times there appeared to be more people than seats.

The show started around 7.45pm with a collection of swim, beach and lounge wear by Hornburg Calypso Ltd. Bermudian limbo dancer Markita Joell stole the show with her hip-shaking moves, while other models came out on the catwalk dressed in a variety of sophisticated beach and lounge wear. There were some highlights from the show — a performance by In Motion School of Dance and local rapper Imari Wade. But my favourite part was seeing the cute kids strut their stuff on the catwalk. Boys were dressed in colourful tanks and shorts, while their girls wore adorable tutus and cute rompers.

The show wasn’t as long as it’s been in past years, but by the end of the 150 minute set I was exhausted. I left the show ready to catch up on some of my missed sleep — but thrilled by all the special moments and memories made during the past week.

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Published Jul 13, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 13, 2015 at 10:59 am)

Fashion festival diary: creativity abounds

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