Fashionation

Laura Dowrich-Phillips looks at the region’s premiere fashion event, the Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica

A model wearing Zadd and Eastman on the catwalk. Photograph courtesy Zadd and EastmanBarbados’s The 5th Element. Photograph courtesy PulseClinique Campaign model Kimanee Wilson in Biggy of Jamaica. Photograph courtesy PulseFashion by Trinidad’s Heather Jones. Photograph courtesy PulseMiss Jamaica Universe 2006 Cindy Wright in Heather Jones of Trinidad. Photograph courtesy PulsePulse’s male face of Trinidad, Kenwyn Millington, wears Avark from Barbados. Photograph courtesy PulseThe Cloth, Trinidad. Photograph courtesy PulseThe Cloth, Trinidad. Photograph courtesy PulseThe Mushroom, Jamaica. Photograph courtesy PulseThe Mushroom, Jamaica. Photograph courtesy PulseZadd and Eastman of Trinidad at Caribbean Fashion Week, Jamaica. Photograph courtesy Zadd and Eastman

Yes, the Caribbean wears Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang. But it has its own celebrity designers too: Meiling, Cooyah, Heather Jones, Uzuri. And the fast-growing Caribbean fashion industry has its own showcase event: Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW) in Jamaica.

Now in its seventh year, CFW attracts around 50 regional designers. It was created by the Pulse organisation in Jamaica. Co-founder Kingsley Cooper says CFW is not just a fashion show but a way of providing assistance to the young Caribbean fashion industry through workshops and seminars, international exposure, brand recognition, and fashion entertainment via television and parties.

Model development is a core aspect of the project, and Pulse has had tremendous success finding and developing Jamaican models for the international arena. Januel McKenzie, Nell Robinson, Carla Campbell and Nadine Willis are among those who have become bona fide stars. McKenzie is a “top 25” model who has been ranked the number one black model for the last two years. Pulse has extended its model search to the wider Caribbean, and is on the verge of its first non-Jamaican success.

Caribbean design houses such as The Cloth, The Mushroom, and Biggy have also benefited from CFW. Hailed by British Vogue as an important new trend in world fashion, CFW marks its seventh anniversary with a new retail and wholesale outlet in Kingston.

Caribbean Fashion Week 2007 runs from June 6 to 10. Visit www.caribbeanfashionweek.com