So what exactly do you do when your editor calls you and asks you if you can go to St. Maarten to cover one of the most talked about fashion events for the year? There is no choice. You say yes. You plug in for a vacation day, make sure your passport has some months left, make sure you don’t need a visa, and you say yes.
You board that plane for a six hour excursion, taking the maxi of the skies – LIAT – hope for the best where luggage transfers are concerned and you touch down in one of the most beautiful islands you’ve ever had the privilege of visiting – St. Martin.
For those who may not know, St. Martin is an island divided between two nations – France (St. Martin) and the Netherlands (Sint Maarten). The majority of the trip was spent on the Dutch side of the island, as we were all based in Simpson Bay near the airport and close to all the bars, hotels, clubs and casinos. St. Maarten is a happening place…they don’t have happy hours, they have happy days – virtually every drink is two for one for ridiculous periods of time in any of the multitude of bars and restaurants you visit. The beaches…gorgeous, but beware, the water is incredibly cold.
I was there to cover Color Revolution SXM, a hot, colourful, exciting initiative by a combination of forces – Caribbean Fashion Style Journal (aka CFStyle.com) and the newly formed National Fashion Development Association (NFDA) of St. Martin. The designer lineup read like a dream – designers from all over the Caribbean (Trinidad & Tobago bearing the strongest representation) and the United States of America were hitting up the picturesque isle of St. Martin to serve up some FABulous fashion.
We kicked off the weekend with an Opening Gala Ceremony at the Blue Mall in Sint Maarten. We sipped some bubbly, snagged some hors’ d’oeuvres and waited for the metaphorical curtain to raise. Once the speeches were speechified, we got a preview of some of the collections we’d be seeing over the course of the next two days – Kimya Glasgow, Kaj Designs and Kai Designs. There was also a presentation by one of the sponsors, a Blue Mall resident retail store, Opera. There was an after party but I bowed out, blaming my exhaustion from a long morning of travel and no nap time before the gala. The rest of the media went though, which probably explains why I was the only one awake and ready for our Tiki Hut Relax & Snorkel Adventure the next morning.
I met my media liaison (now referred to as Mama Cotton from here on out, or maybe just Laura) around 8 to grab breakfast and waited as she issued an assembly call for all remaining passengers. We ended up departing with a small but energetic group of seaworthy explorers – photographers, Colin, Sean and Clint, Analiese (model, former ANTM and BNTM contestant, and our hostess for the weekend), buyer/presenter Nikki, journalists Isaul and Devon, and Laura. I go into the details of this particular excursion in another post, so stay tuned for that! Didn’t want to get too sidetracked from the fash-on (as Analiese kept referring to it).
Once we returned from our VERY eventful morning activity, it was time to decompress and begin preparing for the first runway night of Color Revolution SXM, titled ‘Color Elegant’. Hosted in Philipsburg at the Harbor Facilities, the first night promised a show from five designers, four of whom, I’m proud to say, were repping the red, white and black.
Donna Dove opened the show with a collection described as ‘wearable art’. This woman is a sweet, kind, soul and her love for what she does reverberates through the fabric that she artfully manipulates into fashion. Men’s shirts stitched and hand painted to create sexy cocktail dresses and voluminous gowns, distressed jersey creating more casual, but well styled skirts and tee shirt combinations, and glorious bubble hemmed dresses and tops that gave a touch of whimsy an otherwise structured collection. It was an amalgamation of different styles and disciplines, but it worked well on the runway. I have nothing short of hero-worship for this veteran designer, so perhaps it would be difficult for me to call her collection anything but exciting. I also loved the touch of the handpainted glass being used as an accessory by the models.
Kai Designs, one of the two St. Martiners scheduled to show over the weekend presented her line of crochet creations to the audience. I can’t even begin to imagine how arduous creating a colour-blocked crochet collection must be. Kaishah Peters, the designer behind the brand, obviously put a lot of thought into the colour combinations, keeping them fresh and functional. Lots of knee length skirts, tube and cropped tops, and cocktail dresses came down the runway.
Anyone who’s been to Upmarket will probably recall Lisa’s Fabrics – a booth adorned with gorgeous, luxurious hand-dyed silk scarves, and more recently, kaftans and dresses. Well Lisa Sarjeant-Gonzales was there and she presented those beautiful creations to what turned out to be a very appreciative and receptive audience. I mean when you talk about Caribbean resort, this is what comes to mind – loose, flowing fabrics all colours of the rainbow, and as extra icing on the cake, necklines tastefully embellished with accoutrements sourced all the way from India. Remarkably enough, this was only the second time on the runway for Lisa, having showed for the first time the week before at the Power of Beauty Media Launch.
Husband and wife team, Shurnel Designs put the ‘Elegant’ in ‘Color Elegant’ with their line of simple but beautiful gowns. Attention to detail was key, with lots of ruching, twisting, and draping of silk blend fabrics to create the fantasy that was this collection. I liked quite a few pieces, notably a very wearable blue floor-length dress with a thigh high slit, and of courseeee the showstopping off the shoulder grecian-esque gown that Athaliah Samuel closed with. I mean you HAVE to be a glamazon to rock that dress right? Athaliah worked it out like rent was due yesterday. Can’t commend this model enough for how she brings garments to life on the runway.
For a designer that only launched in November of last year, Charu Lochan Dass has had a hell of a lot to say. This is her third collection shown to date, her Resort 2014 collection that, from her lookbook, was a melting pot of monochromatic looks, as well as vibrant colourful prints. She opted to show only the black and white creations at Color Revolution though, and in my opinion, these were some of the strongest looks in the lookbook anyway (not that the others weren’t amazing, but black is life for me, so yeah, bias). Black and white print translated well onto the feminine collection – full circle skirts, floor length dresses, divine sheaths that screamed resort and a very sleek crop top and pant combination. Pops of neon pink throughout made things more interesting and fresh, not that the collection needed much help in that department.
I left ‘Color Elegant’ feeling more patriotic than I’ve felt in a while. It was an excellent showing by the Trinbagonian contingent and through my well-developed eavesdropping (read: maco) skills I was able to ascertain that the international media and fashion industry stalwarts LOVED what they saw.
Stay tuned for (Part Deux)