Under the trees and stars at John D

Photo caption: Marcia Joseph and Tonielle Williams

Source: Trinidad Guardian

Published on Thursday 29th June, 2017.

The conclusion of the 2017 edition of UTT Fashion Week (June 13-17) took place on a blissfully dry and cool evening at the John S Donaldson Campus, invitingly renamed Under the Trees and Under the Stars @ John D.

Canopy tents, white and transparent, offered an unimpeded view of the night sky above. Below, the runway was set and the seats filled with attendees eagerly anticipating the Designer Critic student selections and the Senior Thesis Fashion Show.

The Designer Critic is a collaborative academic exercise between Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design’s third year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fashion Design students and a selection of two of T&T’s leading fashion designers. This year’s fashion mentors were International Award-winning designer Shaun Griffith Perez along with fashion designer and businesswoman Dianne Hunt.

During the process, the designer is responsible for setting a project and then lending their expertise and help to a group of six to seven students. This year’s themes stirred the imagination with the Evening Illusions set by Griffith Perez and the Tea Party in the Forest set by Hunt.

“I wanted them to create a collection of fantasy, fashion and style,” explained Griffith Perez. “To design with a strong Caribbean aesthetic, with a bold and innovative push beyond the boundaries of their imaginations to develop a product for the world to see. I believe in branding the Caribbean.”

“I gave them a wide spectrum to be creative,” shared Hunt. “In keeping with my style, my whole world is about tea as a lifestyle, so I put the theme in the forest, and they did very well. The students did extensive work, presenting up to 12 or 16 different ideas each. From there we selected which two would go forward, because I understand that on paper you can get super creative, but you have to include the practicality as well.”

The audience warmly welcomed the designs of both groups of fashion students. The most successful student designer of each group received the Mentor Designer’s namesake Award. First and second place students awarded under Evening Illusions theme, selected by Griffith Perez, were Tonielle Williams and Marcia Joseph respectively. First and second place students awarded under Tea Party in the Forest theme, selected by Hunt, were Scharron Bain and Stacy Riley respectively.

The second half of the evening featured the main event: the Senior Thesis Collections of the final year students on the cusp of graduation. After the full, four-year (BFA) in Fashion Design programme, 17 fashion students from across the Caribbean debuted six to eight designs, each under a theme of their choosing. The name of the evening’s show—Eclectic—A Caribbean Fashion—represented the variety of innovative and wide-ranging themes, drawn from influences across genres, cultures and crafting techniques.

2017 represents the sixth year of thesis collections from the Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design (CAFD) and each student designer presented a representation of their design philosophies to showcase their skills from basic concept to completion. At the conclusion of the show, the Student of the Year award was announced, which was voted on by the programme professionals who visited the Designer Space event at the UTT John S Donaldson Creative Campus on Wednesday, June 14.

The unmistakable crowd favourite, Adrian Wilson, took home the coveted prize for his bold exploration of the theme Apocalypse, inspired by a fusion of the Mad Max movies, the Steampunk fashion genre and what Wilson deems “Apocalyptic fashion”. The description includes reference to a monochromatic colour palette that gives movement throughout the collection, which shows an edgy, futuristic look fused with modern styles.

Other awards distributed included the Fashion Management Editorial Styling Award, won by Shari Patrick, and the Award for Fashion Design—Most Creative Designer to Gabriella Mc Millan for her thesis collection entitled Bamboo Echoes. The Award for Fashion Design—Most Promising Designer was presented to Keri Bazzey for her thesis collection Planet Origami. A special prize was awarded to Jody Akal and her La Diablesse A La Mode thesis collection of a TT$5,000 retail contract courtesy Simply Runway.