Sunshine, glamor, and national heritage redefine style in Jamaica. Saint International’s Deiwght Peters showcased his vision of high fashion while celebrating his native Jamaica’s culture and national treasures through Style Week Jamaica 2012.
“Style is really the identity of a place. You express a culture through style, you express a personality through style. So, it’s important that you incorporate as many elements as possible within that culture that speaks to the essence of what style should be,” said Peters.
“For me, it was how do we connect, how do we speak that dialogue of Jamaican style to the world. What would have people engaging in this whole happening of style. When we really thought it through, we figured the best thing to do is to connect the dots, incorporate places that have a story.”
The Saint International CEO started the modelling agency eleven years ago. Although there were stumbling blocks Peters never gave up on his dream. Now in its seventh year, Style Week, which took place May 24-27, is a visual culmination of his foresight and determination.
“I never take anything for granted. I work hard, there were a lot of fights but we kept true to the ambition, we kept true to the passion and look at it now… it’s all manifesting in the best way possible. I am really thankful,” said Peters.
Style Week 2012 is indeed a conversation about Jamaican heritage. The high style fashion shows opened at the island’s original seat of power, King’s House. The official residence of Governors from Colonial times, the lavish property is now home to Governor General His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen and First Lady Allen. Mainly a ceremonial position since the country gained independence in 1962, the Governor General still represents the Queen of England.
To be sure the immaculately manicured lawns of King’s House made the perfect backdrop for High Tea and Style.
Taking cues from the cool Caribbean breeze and azure blue sea, Jamaican designers Courtney Washington and Neah Lis showcased their collections mimicking the architectural elegance of the majestic King’s House.
White cottons and handkerchief linens, color-dipped rayon and silk topped with stunning hats by Cinderella marked High Tea with a Caribbean edge. Ladies and gents in their finest late afternoon style lifted their pinkies higher in appreciation as they sipped tea and nibbled on cucumber sandwiches.
Moving to Downtown Kingston, the center of commerce, industry, and the underground economy, the showcase of style continued on the edge, along Kingston harbor with the jagged cityscape as a perfect canvas.
Stunningly still human mannequins modeled the latest in trend-setting accessories. The capital city’s fashionistas were out in full force, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Miss Jamaica Universe 2012 Chantal Zaky and international supermodel, Jamaican-American Tyson Beckford.
Indeed, men’s fashions took center stage at the historic Devon House, Kingston’s meetup venue on a Sunday afternoon. Internationally known for its island-flavored ice creams–incidentally voted the fourth best place in the world to eat ice cream–Devon House is one of Jamaica’s national monuments.
The magnificence of this 19th century architectural masterpiece built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire George Stiebel, was the perfect setting for the International Men’s Collection as designers Balla Shawn, White Skyy, and Rick B’s featured their male fashions proudly.
Said Peters of his choice of venues, “What we are trying to do in Jamaica is to tell the Jamaican story of fashion and the connection has to be made for it to be authentic. For me, being at Devon House we are telling the story of our historic sites and how the whole essence has come together through style and culture.”
The cultural style showcase continued in Port Royal. Once known as the wickedest city on earth, the city that jutted out into the Kingston harbor, was home to pirates and other opportunists. An important shipping commerce center in the sixteenth century, Port Royal was shrouded in wealth and opulence but was finally ‘brought to its knees’ with the 1692 earthquake that destroyed most of the it and its inhabitants. The rebuilt city still has remnants of its colorful past, including Fort Charles, the massive installation with its canons and impenetrable fortress that shielded Port Royala from attack by sea.
How apropos that Peters’ International Mecca of Style show should be held at this important national site. The statement of strength, feistiness, and impenetrable style was truly fitting.
The young models strutted their stuff down the runway zigzagging through the fort’s interior. The three-hour long presentation featured a bevy of Jamaican and Caribbean designers as well as their New York and Los Angeles counterparts.
Jamaica’s landscape, mountains, and colorful language was evident in the unique styles that graced the runway including those from Yola Gray, Andre Shirley, Juliet Harris, and Franz Christe.
It all came to a crescendo on Knutsford Boulevard, the heart of New Kingston, with a Fashion Block show and party that brought out the masses. Open and free to the public, Peters’ grand gesture motivated the powers-that-be to close off the main thoroughfare in celebration of the island’s creativity.
The 175-foot runway was not just a symbol of the fashion industry, it also represented how far Jamaica has come since its independence from Great Britain. The Island will mark its 50th year birthday in August, so this style party was just the beginning of the happenings set to mark this important milestone. Indeed, Jamaican designer Donna Rose captured the spirit of freedom with her Salute to the Flag collection.