Fashion In The Islands

Going to the Bahamas for the Islands of the World Fashion Week may sound like an industry holiday, but this new showcase goes beyond the region’s stereotypical sun-and-fun. This new entry to the global fashion weeks stands apart by providing a platform for ambitious designers from the islands of the world who want their creative wares to be more than exotic souvenirs.

While most of the clothes can be categorized under tropical loungewear, two refreshing collections hinted at a glamorous world beyond all those gorgeous beaches. Apryl Weech of the Bahamas, for instance, produced camera-ready bias shouldered satin and georgette gowns that are perfect for red carpet dressing, while Nikolaki’s Nick Verreos (former Project Runway contestant and the week’s special guest) showed floor length dresses in luscious silk fabrics that were more classic Hollywood than contemporary casual.

Although these collections enthralled attendees, the most compelling presentations came from designers who managed to infuse their designs with rich cultural heritage without treading too deep into ethnic-chic. One stellar example was Trinidad’s Claudia Pegus, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented Caribbean designers. Pegus took West Indian Sea Island Cotton and made it into a collection appropriate for any laidback metropolis in the summer months. Meanwhile, Kevan Hall (another special guest of the week) dedicated his collection to Africa, yielding chic eye-catching pieces such as flowing zebra dresses and printed embroidered dashikis.

The most creative of the week, however, was the sustainability themed eco design competition. Natural materials such as ratan, burlap, straws, raffia and recyclable materials such as newspapers were made into sculpturally wondrous dresses. The competition’s winner, Heather Jones of Trinidad, showed an impressive, multi-layered straw dress that came with a brown and beige chiffon skirt.

As the inaugural event, there were a few inevitable kinks to be improved upon—most collections needed editing, many shows started late. Assuming these wrinkles are smoothed by next year, Nassau Bahamas will not only be a destination for its nearby pristine beaches, but also for its spirited, tropical fashions.

—Robert Cordero

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