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Highlights from Caribbean Fashion Plus Week 2012

Writer : Caribbean E-Magazine on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | 12:18 PM

After five days of intense focus on the plus size fashion industry, which concluded in two major fashion runways, one can safely say that the league of pioneering Caribbean designers who took up the challenge of creating plus size collections fulfilled their mission and more. Most designers were presenting their first ever plus size collections at the fashion week, giving patrons who attended the first look of what can be considered a new ‘season’ of designs for Caribbean plus size shoppers, buyers and retailers.

The Caribbean and host country Trinidad and Tobago can now stand with the big names in the international plus size industry as having a full season of plus size fashion from which Caribbean consumers can now select and purchase! Out of the 16 designers scheduled to debut at the Caribbean Fashion Plus Week, 7 were showcased at the Pan In Style event held at Sforzata Panyard on 3rd November, and 13 showed collections at “Runway Caribbean”, held at the Ballroom Cascadia Hotel on 4th November 2012.

The collections at “Pan In Style” carried all the flair and colour expected for a festive pan yard environment. Complimenting Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument were collections from Jay Jay Designs, aptly entitled, “Colourific as well as Carnival costume designs for Nottinghill Carnival by DVOG and Utopia mas 2013. A plus size swim suit line and clothing collection was also launched by designer Tennille Frank of Plus Express. Chinsy Designs by Chinyere Thomas made a world premiere at “Pan In Style” with a bright array of fun and flirty swim wear and quirky swimsuit accessories, one of which included a full plus size ballerina tu-tu! Lesa Gonzales of Lesa G designs combined her famous jersey manipulation talent with her eccentrically colour coordinated woollen woven designs to present a collection that seemed perfect for the more daring plus size shopper, ever-ready for any party or liming occasion. The fashions were accompanied by the sweet strains of steel pan music supplied by Sapophonics pan side.

At the grande finale, “Runway Caribbean”, there were a few surprise collections for the audience on the evening, which came in the form of a mini collection of evening wear from Robert E. Knight of Chicago USA as well as a gown from internationally renowned plus size designer brand IGIGI.
Representing from Guyana was Andrea Brathwaite of Timeless Treasures, who presented unique applique, stenciled and hand painted designs with the well fitted garments of her collection.
Also presented was a mini collection of evening gowns from Heather Jones. DVOG and Plus Express presented again but with different collections at “Runway Caribbean”, both carrying the theme of island and resort wear respectively. In Collection swimwear presented its 2013 swimwear line for plus size which showed some interesting concepts in fit and styling for the more plump shape. So Esteem from London was warmly received with their teal-inspired collection of short jumpers, breezy above-the-knee dresses and asymmetrical hem lines.

Rounding out the female designers was an impressive collection from Anne Marie Alexis – a study of pieces in red, white and black - a tribute to the 50th year of independence of Trinidad and Tobago. The well-constructed lines and the complimenting incorporation of the national colours in each garment, was off-set from starkness by a treatment of colour removal and addition in some cases, using a tie-dye technique. There seemed to be quite a bit of brilliantly executed technique and finish in this collection, with capped red sleeves, and other little accented details which added completeness to each look in the series. There was also a secondary theme where the multicultural influences of the nation were highlighted. Included in the collection were Indian and Chinese-influenced details as well as a full African gown and head wrap in the same red, white and black colour scheme.

Even with such good representation from the ladies, the stronger collections of the evening definitely came from the male designers at “Runway Caribbean” namely, Orson Charter of Charter’s designs, Robert Young from The Cloth, Wayne Sankar and Dexter Jennings of Concept Studios. Charter’s designs went for the extreme in fun, island colour with a collection of colour patterned short-shorts with solid colours on top. Robert Young’s collection opened with an impressive black and red gown, with his signature multi-fabric layered sleeves of varying textures and colours of red. The collection continued with a deep nod to Caribbean roots, incorporating bold colour blocking, flowing and flattering fabric shapes for the tops as well as two selections of traditional shirts from ‘The Cloth’ line.
Up next was Wayne Sankar, who in every way proved his title in the plus size industry as both, “The King of Custom Fit” and “The Bustier Specialist”. Sankar’s collection was an expertly tailored display of just how sexy a plus size shape can look when encased in the perfect fitted clothing. His collection included bust, waist and hip hugging bustiers, (up to a size 26!) long flowing skirts with slits up to ‘there’ and fitted trousers with charming zippers stitched up the backs of the calves.

Dexter Jennings and Concept Studios seemed to pull out all the stops for their presentation of “A Black and White Affair.” Accompanied by the music of Latin sensation, Shakira, the designs were presented with all the theatrical flair and excitement for which Jennings is fast becoming known. ‘A Black and White Affair’ was an interesting blend of clever inversions (black polka dots on white fabric, combined with white polka dots on black fabric) along with hand panted black bamboo on brown cotton with dramatic black and gold make-up. His pieces maintained this monochrome theme throughout, with the exception of three pieces, in which the depth of the black was broken by an iridescent threading throughout the three dresses presented.

The evening’s entertainment included smooth melodic vocals from baritone singer Stephan Furlonge, some welcome Christmas selections by saxophonist Ricardo Seales of Tobago and a mellow and spirit-filled acoustic set with a stripped down version of Nehilet Blackman and D’ All Girls band. All collections shown at both runways during Caribbean Fashion Plus Week are available to be acquired and additional information to contact the participating designers can be had by emailing or visiting
The Designers from the entire fashion week were
·        Andrea Brathwaite (Guyana).
·        Anne Marie Alexis (T&T).
·        Chinsy Designs, Chinyere Thomas
·        Orson Charter (T&T).
·        Dexter Jennings (T&T).
·        DVOG (International Retailer).
·        Heather Jones (T&T).
·        Jay Jay Designs, Jelesha Cunningham
·        IGIGI
·        In Collection Swimwear (T&T).
·        Lesa G Designs by Lesa Gonzales
·        Plus Express (International Retailer).
·        Robert E. Knight (Chicago, USA).
·        So Esteem (London, UK).
·        True Diva Designs
·        The Cloth (T&T).
·        Utopia Mas Band
·        Vyombo Designs by Baba & Modupe (accessories)
·        Wayne Sankar (T&T).
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