A group of Tobago designers and creatives in the fashion sector wowed visitors when their work went on display at the T&T High Commission in London.
London long regarded in the global fashion scene as the place for new designers, new trends, and the fashion of tomorrow played host to 'Emerging Talent', an International Fashion Showcase as part of London Fashion Week (LFW) organised by The British Council (BC) and the British Fashion Council (BFC). The International Fashion Showcase was part of the Fashion 2012 Cultural Programme developed to celebrate the year of the Olympics and Paralympics and was intended to give the general public and fashion industry professionals a unique insight into a new wave of talent from around the world. And the Caribbean was present!
The three week exhibition "I AM A CARIBBEAN" was supported by The Tobago House of Assembly, through the Office of the Chief Secretary and held under the patronage of the T&T High Commission, London. Caribbean Calling, a brand developed by Josanne Leonard and associates for promoting Caribbean arts and cultural initiatives with partners and venues across the UK/Europe teamed up with Caribbean Fashion Style (CFstyle) and UK partners to produce the exhibition.
'I AM A CARIBBEAN' featured the work of 30 designers in clothing, jewelry, accessories, photography, make-up and carnival design and also included other creatives (models and business services). The Tobago creatives included Delia Alleyne, Dixie-Ann John, Ted Arthur, Lyndy-Ann Parks, Juliet Bernard, Brent Denoon, Oswin Browne and Meisha Trim.
"Many people expressed surprise at the quality of the work" said Josanne Leonard of Caribbean Calling. "The 'I AM A CARIBBEAN' exhibit however was really a testimony to the determination of not just the organisers but also the creatives who rose to the challenge of participating in an important industry and cultural event," said Leonard. Visitors to the exhibition included Jenny Waldman, Creative Producer of the Cultural Olympiad of LOCOG, Lauren Mc Kirdy, British Council, Carol Hay, Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Enid Williams, JAMPRO, London College of Fashion, representatives of the UK Diplomatic Corps and media.
According to Leonard, the Caribbean Calling fashion initiative highlighted the resilience and determination of our young creatives in large measure. Said Leonard; "these entrepenuers are innovative, enterprising and are breathing life confidently into to their own distinct sense of Caribbean style and creative enterprises but their businesses definitely need more support to grow."
"Largely self-financing or supported by family and friends, they are using social media and other technological tools to bring their creative talents to the attention of the market," said Leonard.
She added "it's not enough to talk about new talent and taking T&T/Caribbean Fashion (or any other creative talent) to the world! We have to address. THE major challenge – an enabling environment for creators and creative entrepreneurs that is well thought out, transparent and consistent with a strategy to grow all our creative enterprises, not a select few."
Leonard commended the personal interest shown by Chief Secretary Orville London, John Arnold of the Division of Tourism and Stanley Beard former Chairman of the TDC. "Caribbean Calling will continue to seek out ways to work with and represent these wonderfully imaginative, talented and young creatives in partnership with our local agencies, especially in external markets" she said.
"Given the current 'buzz' about the arts and cultural sectors, festival and events tourism and creative industries as growth poles of the 'much touted' creative/knowledge economy, we need to get serious about cogent policies and fiscal incentives to truly unleash the creative and economic power of the best exports in our midst.
"With 50th Anniversary Celebrations and Olympics, there is no better time to focus on the wealth of talent especially among our young people" she added optimistically.