Cut and craft: Caribbean Fashion Week

Regional designers showed ther true colours at this year’s Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica

Coline Baptiste-Mills walks the runway during the grand finale. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments LtdEvening sportswear looks: blazer and extended waistband pants. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments LtdFaded chiffon layered dress with pony skin belt and collar accents. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments LtdKevin Ayoung-Julien on the runway. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments LtdLong-sleeved tie-dyed stretch mesh bodice with stitch details. Skirt done in silks. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments LtdOlive green mohair shrug with bronze and emerald appliqué details. Skirt in accordion-pleated polyester with camouflage belt. Photograph courtesy Damian HolderRelaxed sporty look with classic cuts: plaid drawstring trouser with baby pink shirt and a black corduroy sport jacket. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments LtdUrban masculine look: low-rise patterned pants in leathery suede fabric. Photograph courtesy Pulse Investments Ltd

Kevin Ayoung-Julien’s first job was at the craft store around the corner from his secondary school in his native Tobago, where the shop’s wide assortment of paints and other materials provided an outlet for his creative urges. He already spent most of his free time sketching fashion designs. When he got a chance to experiment with fabric paints and appliqués, Ayoung-Julien proved a quick study.

When some of his appliquéd T-shirts went on sale at a trade show, the response was positive, and Ayoung-Julien was bombarded with orders. He began adding his designs to bags, while refining his ability to produce cleaner finishes. Today Ayoung-Julien, 27, is the designer behind KAJ, a line of clothing and accessories embodying his appreciation of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago and its African heritage. Some of his work was featured at the 2005 Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW) in Jamaica, and this year his “Eccensual” collection was also shown there in June.

KAJ’s latest collection aims to reflect the Caribbean’s lush landscape and diverse cultures. Ayoung-Julien has used ethnic-motif silk chiffons with a dash of cotton, raw silk, taffeta and patterned stretch mesh, and a pinch of snake-printed peachskin. The pieces are given added texture with copper, leather and ponyskin accents, luxurious guipure lace, wooden beaded fringe, and exotic plumes.

The defining colours take their lead from the tones of the Caribbean, in rich browns, tan, khaki, exotic red and mustard shades, refreshing blues and teals and even bronze. KAJ has dressed women in long asymmetric, tiered and A-line skirts, feathered bustiers and low-cut, off-the-shoulder blouses with stitch detailing. Men make a bold statement in vibrant hues and sleeveless shirts of mesh tapestry and chiffon. The feel is raw, with unfinished hemlines and distressed fabrics.

 

Millhouse Company, a leading Trinidad and Tobago menswear designer, made a bold return to the fashion runway at the seventh Caribbean Fashion Week.

Describing the 2007 collection, “Trinity”, head designer Gregory Mills said, “We showed who we were with simplicity and sophistication, using Millhouse’s trademark European flair and a distinctly Caribbean touch in the bold red, white and black of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Co-owners and co-designers Mills and his wife Coline Baptiste-Mills were proud to offer tribute to their motherland after taking a five-year hiatus from the CFW circuit.

The collection was a men’s sportswear line featuring Millhouse’s signature slim silhouettes, clean lines and classic fit in natural fibres such as cottons, silks, linens, tropical wools and microfibre.

Baptiste-Mills explained, “This collection was about our coming of age and new outlook in design and business. We tied our national colour palette together by introducing rich browns and vibrant greens reflective of the nation’s lush, diverse flora and fauna.”

The menswear label is preparing for the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show, from September 27–30 in Curaçao, as well as a private showing of its holiday collection scheduled for October.


Caribbean Fashion Week 2007 featured regional and international designers:

Trinidad and Tobago: Claudia Pegus, KAJ Designs, Raang and Peter Elias
Jamaica: Moncrieffe, Uzuri, Lubica, Yardmanstyle and Mutamba
Barbados: Wayne Smith, Rojoe and 5th Element
Antigua: Calvin S London: Gavin Douglas
New York: Francis Hendy
Romania: Catalin Botezatu Nigeria: Deola Sagoe.