FRESH showcase for local designers

The Cayman National Cultural Foundation presented its FRESH 2012 fashion show at the Westin Casuarina Resort on Saturday, 28 April. It was a showcase of colour and creativity that featured fresh-faced models, the work of promising new designers, and a competition that awarded prizes including the title of “Cayman’s Top Designer.” 

Attendees walked the red carpet into the main event hall where a straight runway was positioned between rows of audience chairs, leading to the judges’ table. The judges for this event were the foundation’s Artistic Director, Henry Muttoo; businessman and producer Richard Barton; stylist, fashion designer and makeup artist Dexter Pottinger; and internationally reputed Caymanian fashion designer and boutique owner Tigerlilly Hill. 

The evening began with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails as audience members slowly took their seats, and finally the lights dimmed to indicate that the show was about to begin. 

The opening number was a spectacular launch of models moving down the runway with their hair falling in long streams from high ponytails. La Belle International salon, in collaboration with a mixture of local and international makeup artists, chose a theatrical shimmering theme for the models’ faces which immediately caught everyone’s attention.

This choreographed presentation was orchestrated by event manager Patrice Beersingh, an experienced dance and entertainment guru who ensured that the proceedings began with great panache. 

As the models disappeared backstage to get changed into the first designer’s collection, emcees Kareem-Nelson Hull and Janelle Muttoo, doubling as production manager and public relations manager respectively, emerged to welcome everyone to FRESH 2012.

Janelle’s great fashion sense shone through, courtesy of her Coco && Breezy black sunglasses accented with gold studs and spikes. These guest designers’ creations have been worn by celebrities such as Beyonce and Rihanna. 

Melissa Dilbert’s designs were the first to grace the runway, a particularly exciting moment for her as this show was also her public debut. Amongst the pieces was a floral midi dress with a drop torso that flowed into strips of softly fluttering fabric. 

Next came Mara McBean’s collection which opened with a gorgeous coral minidress comprising a gently pleated cutout bodice and pencil skirt, followed by Virginia Foster’s line whose Caymanian influence was very apparent. She employed thatch and an earthy aesthetic to make her garments stand out, and ended her presentation with a ballgown-style wedding dress that much to the audience’s delight, transformed into a strapless fitted mini. 

After the first three competitors had shown their collections, the work of Jawara Alleyne emerged onto the stage. Alleyne is no stranger to FRESH, having participated in the first show in 2007. He is a strong advocate of this platform that exposes local talent, reinforced by a video interview that was played for the audience prior to his runway show. Intech Research very kindly provided the event’s technological support. 

Alleyne begins his studies at the London College of Fashion this Fall, which is not surprising as his talent is undeniable and he is a two-time winner of FRESH. He took his final walk with Miss Cayman, Lindsay Japal, who modelled his beautiful emerald green cutout gown. 

Following Alleyne’s farewell was a performance by singer-songwriter Jeffrey Wilson who was certainly a big hit with the swooning female members of the audience! It was then time for Jacqueline Bleicher’s collection: a strong offering inspired by her years of travel and exposure to other cultures; immediately followed by Shirley DaCosta’s pieces that displayed the confidence of a designer with 25 years of creativity under her belt. 

Sandra Lichtenstein’s collection featured a floating line of warm yellow and orange garments; hot colours for the season. She concluded her showcase with a white bridal gown cinched by a cream beaded waist. 

Singer She’She Clark took to the stage to provide further musical entertainment, and then a set of Coco && Breezy creations hit the runway. The garments were subtly varied, with a focus on the sunglasses which are becoming all the rage in the international fashion market. The audience was offered a chance to bid on a very unique pair which were designed in collaboration with one of the Cayman Islands’ premiere sculptors, Horacio Esteban, incorporating the semi-precious local stone, Caymanite. 

It was a particular thrill for the ladies in the crowd to be treated to a set by international Hip-Hop artist J. Holiday. He performed his hits “Bed” and “Suffocate” to claps of appreciation, and one special young girl was singled out for personal attention which clearly made her night. 

Patrons visited the Kirk Freeport FRESH Up booth in the intermission, where free sample and makeup touch-ups were available from professional artists. It was a popular hotspot throughout the evening. 

The final runway show featured the work of Kidan Brooks, a Caymanian bridal designer and graduate of the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She had recently returned to Grand Cayman after interning for Narcisco Rodriguez and Tuleh, and was also serving as the FRESH design manager.

Her collection was ethereal, pretty and everything a bridal show should be. It was the perfect ending to a fabulous production that was enjoyed by all who attended. 

Emcees Hull and Muttoo reappeared on stage to announce the competition’s winners, and model Neptune Johnson returned to present the prizes.

The Emerging Designer Award was presented to Melissa Dilbert, who also took home the People’s Choice Award. Virginia Foster and Mara McBean tied for the Cayman Culture in Design Award, and McBean was awarded the coveted Top Designer prize. All received custom made trophies from Horacio Esteban. 

The participating models and designers took a final walk down the runway, and then all made a move to join the after party. 

FRESH and Team ProFresh, including Brian Trickett, marketing manager, strive to prove that although the Cayman Islands are small dots on the map, they are brimming with fashion talent eager to make their mark in the international market. It is a budding local industry that with support and growth can truly become a powerhouse of art 
and innovation. 

FRESH emcees

Emcees Kareem Nelson Hull and Janelle Muttoo kept the crowd entertained.