Representing Jamaica At The International Fashion Showcase – London Fashion Week, 2014

Hey Royals! The International Fashion Showcase, parallel to London Fashion Week 2016 has officially begun! This initiative is hosted annually by the British Council and British Fashion Council showcasing the works of emerging designers globally. It has already been two years since I was chosen as one of the five emerging Jamaican designers to represent Jamaica during IFS, LFW 2014! In honour of this, here’s a throwback post highlighting my exciting experience!

Jamaica JAMAICA – DESIGNER ABENAH ADELAIDE DESIGN

Thread Bare

Thread Bare -an eclectic showcase featuring five emerging fashion talents – is presented against a backdrop reminiscent of Jamaica’s lush natural beauty of indigenous natural fibres and long-held artisanal traditions, fused in stark contrast with modern industrial elements – pallets, scaffolding, ladders. Jamaica is a place where intense contradictions: the traditional and modern, the raw and refined, the subtle and harsh, the harmonious and discordant co-exist. The featured designers meld these opposing elements while retaining a spirit that is truly Jamaican.

13–18 FEBRUARY, 10.00 – 18.00
Wolf & Badger Gallery, 32 Dover Street, London W1S 4NE
Organised by: Jamaica Business Development Corporation
Supported by: Jamaican High Commission, Jamaica Tourist Board in association with the Tourism Product Development Company


Designers

Dexter Huxtable
In 2005 Dexter began working on his brand Spokes Apparel, which officially launched in 2006. Spokes Apparel is a family  operated clothing company that is described as a fusion of unique jamaican flair  and classic European finish; the result is sophisticaiton with urban styling.

Ayanna Dixon
Ayanna has recently shown her collections at The Collection Moda 2013 alongside local and international designers where her collection E. 23 was well recieved, and she won  the inaugural First Global Bank Fashion Grant.

Claire Requa
American-Jamaican designer Claire Requa is an emerging talent and a true ‘Designer Without Borders’. She takes her inspiration from her current country of residence, her heritage and colourful cultural background, and mixes this with her whimsical humour and creativity as well as function.

Simone Michelle Neilson
Self taught, Michelle uses her physical and social local environment as inspiration which is evident in the easy sihouettes common across her collections. The miSim brand is designed to allow the wearer to express themselves in style and comfort, with elements of luxury.

Abenah Adelaide Gonzalez
Abenah Adelaide is a brand of exquisitely handmade Jamaican fashion, clothing, jewellery and textiles. The line is boldly Afrocentric, yet casually tailored, influenced by the designer’s eclectic taste and her vivid love affair with the exotic. At IFS2014, Gonzalez will present her first complete fashion collection.

See the Thread Bare lookbook here.

http://design.britishcouncil.org/projects/ifs/ifs-2014/jamaica/

MY EXPERIENCE:

 

            

SUMMARY

“London is a city where the soil of fashion is very fertile for creativity to be sewn and with passion, perseverance and planning, great success can be reaped in this city of dreams. My trip to London has certainly stimulated a new part of my mind. I was refreshed at the importance of the fashion industry to the city and my live and direct exposure to the many different branches of the fashion tree has been educational and truly inspiring” – Abenah Adelaide

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DAY 1 – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2014 – TOUCHDOWN IN LONDON!

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, Simone Neilson of MiSim, Ayanna Dixon of ASD Clothing and I landed at the Gatwick airport in London. After acknowledging our driver whose fingers clutched onto a sign with Ayanna’s name spelt incorrectly. Amused and delighted, we introduced ourselves and got quick shots together with the sign. This would also be good for our documentation process. Excited, enthusiastic and driven, we immediately embraced the 6-8 degrees cold yet likeable British air and headed straight to the Jamaican High Commission in the UK. At the HC, we met the High Commissioner of Jamaica for the UK, her Excellency, Aloun Ndombet Assamba, who gave us a warm welcome to the city. We also reunited with Valerie Veira, Marie Casserly and Keneshia Knooks, members of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the official host and organizers for Threadbare, Jamaica. They worked with us throughout our journeys leading up to our trip and had left the island before us. At the High Commission, I also encountered fellow Threadbare designer, Claire Requa of Clairely Upcyced Jewellery who was elated to meet me because of the fact that my father, Christopher Gonzalez had been her former lecturer. Subsequently, we all united with Dorothy who was in charge of our fashion show. She viewed our collections and sequential to checking into our hotel, we fitted our models for the Threadbare launch the following evening at the same venue.

 

The Jamaican High Commission for the United Kingdom

Preparing my collection for the Threadbare Launch

DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2014 – THREADBARE LAUNCH RECEPTION

The following day, we all arrived at the Jamaican High Commission hours before the appointed time to do final preparations and meet with press affiliates. Dexter Huxtable of Spokes Apparel was unable to make it to London but sent his designs with us. All our collections were already organized in running order from the preceding day with attachments of the names of the models corresponding to the designs they would be presenting. We steamed our garments, after which we were interviewed by IdeLick Media which was a great pipeline to becoming more exposed in the UK. We changed into the appropriate attire for the launch reception and returned backstage to assist the models. Viewers had already arrived and it was soon time for the fashion show to begin. The show was accomplished successfully and the audience was very receptive. I received remarkable feedback on my designs. My signature and passionate usage of colour, details and clean lines spoke and was greatly appreciated. After the main event, it was a great opportunity to socialize, network and meet new people directly in the fashion industry. Subsequently, we sent our designs to our Threadbare exhibition static showcase at 32 Dover Street for the editor Rachel Barret of 360 degrees to complete the instillation. This space was open from 10am – 6pm daily for public viewing.

 

My official invitation to attend the Threadbare Launch from the Jamaican high Commissioner

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Abenah Adelaide Patchwork Empire and skater dresses on the runway.

Abenah Adelaide designs on the runway

                                                                                                          Designer/ model walk: A very happy moment for me! The launching of Abenah Adelaide’s first complete collection while representing Jamaica during Threadbare Jamaica at the High Commision for Jamaica in the UK.

Left: Claire Requa, Simone Nielson, Abenah Gonzalez, Ayanna Dixon (Threadbare designers)

INTERNATIONAL FASHION SHOWCASE 2014 – JAMAICA by IdeLick Media

DAY 3 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – WORKSHOPS AND TOURS BEGIN!

BFC, CENTRE FOR FASHION ENTERPRISE, UAL, LONDON COLLEGE OF FASHION – PRESENTING YOURSELVES TO BUYERS, UAL, CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS TEXTILE FUTURES TOUR

 

On Thursday, we attended our first workshop, held at 180 Strand, IFS. This was the Centre for Fashion Enterprise workshop, organized by the British Fashion Council. There we met more industry insiders and had a chance to view the static showcases of other countries. At the workshop we viewed slides of past emerging designers in which the company helped in becoming established. We also learnt how planning, being persistent in adhering to goals and being truly passionate about the field are key elements in succeeding in such a globally competitive field. In the afternoon, our second workshop was the University of Arts, London College of Fashion – Presenting Yourselves to Buyers workshop. We learnt how to present ourselves better to clients/ buyers and the routes to take in order to reach out to customers more effectively, for example, having line sheets and look books. Succeeding the workshops, we travelled to the University of the Arts, London – Central Saint Martins where designers such as Pierce Brosan, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Zac Posen and John Galliano had all attended. There we engaged in the Textile Futures Tour.

                                                   International Fashion Showcase at 180 Strand

 

TEXTILE FUTURES TOUR – UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS, LONDON, CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS

The Textile Futures tour exceeded my expectations. It was immensely interesting and was led by a lecturer at the university. She introduced us to innovative measures in which the students had taken in order to create dyes, prints and jewellery by using bacteria. Lecturers at Central Saint Martins are now paving the way for biology/ science into the curriculum of students studying BA, Textiles. This will allow  students to open their minds even more and think freshly in terms of creating innovative concepts for designing. Their main aim is to target scientists so that they will anticipate fashion/ textile designing when creating new inventions, which may lead to high demands for their product.

 

Approaching University of Arts, London – Central Saint Martins

We passed through the famous King’s Cross train station on our way back from the Textile Futures Tour – Having fun at Platform 9 3/4 from the world renown movie, Harry Potter!


DAY 4 – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – WORKSHOPS, MARC HARE TALK AND SNEAKING INTO SOMERSET HOUSE!

 

The Not Just a Label Breakfast wasn’t an actual breakfast. I knew this prior to the event because I met and spoke with Robert of Not Just a Label and Kendall of the British Council at our launch at the High Commission. It was just a way of adding style to the name of an early workshop. We were introduced to Stefan Siegel, founder of not just a label. Again, emphasis was placed on the importance of being persistent and having tenacity in our efforts as well as having sincere passion and creating methods/ plans to achieve our goals that should be worked out beforehand in order for the accomplishment of our objectives to flow as desired. We were also given the opportunity to hear the struggles of Stefan Siegel and how he overcame them and emerged to success. In the evening, British/ Jamaican men’s shoe designer, Marc Hare visited us at our static showcase and gave us insights on what makes a successful designer. He spoke to us about shoes, style and shared life stories with us about his journey back to his initial passion. He also shared how the business embossed fields that he had been involved in before had helped him to gain success as a designer even faster than he had expected. Hare reiterated how planning, passion and perseverance are key elements and the secret to gaining success as a fashion
designer.

MARC HARE FOR JAMAICA THREADBARE

MARC HARE

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA                                                   Men’s shoe designer, Marc Hare

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA                                                    Listening keenly to Marc Hare

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA                                                   Her excellency, Aloun Ndombet Assamba and Marc Hare

SNEAKING INTO SOMERSET HOUSE!

 

After a fulfilling talk and receiving valuable tips, Keneshia, Ayanna, Simone and I visited the great Somerset House which is a major arts and culture centre in the heart of London. Somerset’s LFW festivities attracted a big group of people on the outside of the building, in front of the London Fashion Week sign. Many of which dressed quite dapper and some rather quirky. When we got inside the lounge room, there were even more people inside. We were told that designers who were not participating in the show were not allowed in the showrooms. Keneshia had already gotten a personal pass via links. The other designers left and I waited on Keneshia in the lounge room while she viewed the collections inside. I sat, networking and thought of ways to get in. I even tried lying to the front desk that I’m a PR/ Stylist from Jamaica but of course she asked me if I was from Vogue or any other magazine similar to them which totally blew it. I then had an idea to use Keneshia’s pass. No one knew me there and so, they’d never know. When Keneshia came out, I asked her and she thought it was brilliant. We went into another room and she lent her pass to me. I was then able to gain access to what seemed to be treasure. When I went to the entrance of first showroom, I was scanned then I stepped inside. It was amazing. Everything was quintessential to quality and creativity at its peek! This was where any emerging designer would want to be to see and feel the quality of the designs and to see the standard in which they would want to reach with their brand. I ensured to visit every single room and I was thrilled. The designers that showed at Somerset House during LFW included that of Burberry, Isabella Blow – Fashion Galore!, Noritamy, Beautiful Bottoms, Paper London, Maria Francesca Pepe and many more. It was truly an amazing experience.

Somerset House001 Somerset House

 Arrival at Somerset House

DESIGNS IN SOMERSET HOUSE


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DAY 5 – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2014 – WOLF AND BADGER SHOWCASE

We were all invited to the Wolf and Badger new designer showcase held between 1-7 pm. The Wolf and Badger showcase was held at Britain’s first and famous luxury hotel, the Savoy Hotel, which was located on the Strand. Wolf and Badger is a retail business that is licensed to independent fashion jewellery and design brands. Their outlet was located just upstairs our static showcase on Dover Street. On Saturday, Simone and I went to the show which was the viewing of our first runway show in London. We enjoyed every bit of it. It was not only a runway show but a show room with press and a plethora of fashionistas roaming. The designs on display attracted notice as being extraordinary. This awesome showcase added fuel to my flaming passion for fashion. I even saw a very posh and dapper gentleman wearing lipstick! It was a great experience.

IMG03512-20140213-1533The Savoy Hotel


                                                   Inside the Savoy Hotel

 

savoy-badger (1)At the Wolf and Badger Showcase, Savoy Hotel

IMG03515-20140213-1538Models on the runway at the Wolf & Badger Showcase

WP_20140215_0321-1024x576                                  Models on the runway at the Wolf & Badger Showcase

WP_20140215_0251-1024x576Designs at the Wolf & Badger Showcase

WP_20140215_018-1024x576                                  Designs at the Wolf & Badger Showcase

WP_20140215_016-576x1024                                   Designs at the Wolf a& Badger Showcase

vielma-wolf-badger-1024x769                                    Vielma London designs at the Wolf & Badger Showcase

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Later that day we had a bit of leisure time which directed us to link with Keneshia of JBDC to go shopping. We visited high end stores, low end stores and even the market at Covent. As a designer it is important to see and understand all ends and levels of the industry and viewing them in London assisted in gaining extra knowledge which will assist in leading me to the mastery of my brand.

Shopping after the Wolf & Badger Showcase

DAY 6, SUNDAY FEBRUARY 16, 2014

FASHION SCOUT TOUR, THE “IT” FACTOR TALK WITH CLAIRE SULMERS AND SUSAN BENDER AND IFS EMERGING TALENT AWARDS

On Sunday we visited the Free Mason’s Hall, Metropolitan Grande Lodge and Chapter for the Fashion Scout Tour. This is a popular venue for great fashion shows. The day before, on our way to Savoy, we passed a surplus of paparazzi and fans at this venue. They aggregated on the outside of the building because an appearance was made by Victoria Beckham. On tour day, when we stepped inside the hall, we were greeted by the fragrance of frankincense. We passed the reception area and stepped into the press room where there was an array of mannequins. These mannequins were adorned in beautiful garments that were embellished with impeccable details. The ceilings and stained glass windows reminded me of ancient cathedral, rococo structures. Our tour guide also showed us where journalists, bloggers and the press would sit in their media area upon visiting the hall to write or network. During the tour, we got back stage access to the dressing rooms where we got to see the beautiful designer line up. The runway was directly in front of the hair and make-up room and the models were doing their final run through rehearsal, 30 minutes prior to show time. This was all very familiar to me as a former model but it was a much greater experience. We were then taken into a room where static showcases were often held. The architecture of the entire venue as well as the paintings on the walls, the symbols and reflections were divine and very eccentric. The fashion Scout Tour was a remarkable experience.

 

FASHION SCOUT TOUR

IMG03506-20140213-1516 Fashion fans outside of the Free Mason’s Hall after an appearance by Victoria Beckham

Designs in the media room at the Free Mason’s Hall – Fashion Scout Tour

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21 Kendall Robbins of the British Council and our tour guide Martin Roberts – Fashion Scout director

4A part of the ceiling at the Free Mason’s Hall – Fashion Scout Tour

1798841_457130904415833_1774058188_n Ceiling detail at the Free Mason’s Hall – Fashion Scout Tour

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IMG03551-20140214-1123Hair and makeup room – Fashion Scout Show, preparations being done backstage and our tour guide Martyn Roberts – Fashion Scout Director

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IMG03531-20140214-1111Kendall Robbins of the British Council


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We were unable to stay for the runway show after the Fashion Scout Tour because we had a talk with industry insiders, Claire Sulmers and Susan Bender who spoke to us about the “It factor” and getting lucrative attention in the fashion industry. The talk was brief and educational. We learnt about the “It” Factor and how to reach out to bloggers and other influential people in the world of fashion. The evening led us to the IFS Emerging Talent awards. Korea and Japan won best designer and best curator respectively. At the ceremony we met new people including Jason Mansaray of Arise News who invited us to do an interview on the Arts and Culture show.

THE “IT” FACTOR TALK WITH CLAIRE SULMERS AND SUSAN BENDER

LFW PANEL

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERALeft: Her Excellency, Aloun Ndombet Assama, Susan Bender, Claire Sulmers

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA                                                   Listening keenly the the “It” Factor talk

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERALeft: Susan Bender, Her Excellency, Aloun Ndombet Assama, Claire Sulmers and Valerie Veira

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERANetworking with the popular Claire Sulmers, CEO of Fashion Bomb Daily, the 43rd most influential style site in the world and #1 multicultural online fashion magazine.


IFS EMERGING TALENT AWARDS

P1050332                                  Left: Marie Casserly, Keneshia Knooks and Abenah Gonzalez

Left: Claire Requa, Marie Casserly, Ayanna Dixon, Keneshia Knooks, Abenah Gonzalez

P1050322                                    Abenah Gonzalez at IFS Emerging Talent awards

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DAY 7, MONDAY – FEBRUARY 17, 2014

BLOW PR WORKSHOP, V & A MUSEUM, ARISE TV INTERVIEW, VISIT TO BRIDAL COUTURIER – CLARISCIA GILL AND DINNER WITH THE HC

On Monday, I attended the BLOW PR Workshop where I learnt about brand development and getting business support such as loans and investors. I also learnt about having a niche and signature. Afterwards, I met up with Claire and two of her friends. We all went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. This museum was founded in 1852 and was named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. It houses a large variety of designs of a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. It was a fantastic opportunity to see fine western arts and fashion directly as opposed to in books. We were hosted by two ladies who took us on the Club to Catwalk Tour. During the tour, we viewed old works of some of the world’s greatest designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Dior, Alexander McQueen and more. We also viewed ancient Egyptian jewellery as well as crowns and jewellery that belonged to past queens. We also passed beautiful mosaics, sculptures, paintings and beadwork. It was a lot to view in just one day. I browsed through the books and other items in the V and A store on our way out.


V & A MUSEUM

p1050359                                                    Chandelier at the V & A Museum

 

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                                                   Bead work in the V& A store


ARISE TV

Our visit to the museum wasn’t very long because Claire and I had an interview scheduled with Arise TV. So after our visit, Keneshia, Claire and I were all taken to Arise TV. When we reached, I changed into one of my designs then went on to the hair and make-up room. Claire and I were then interviewed live by Jason Mansaray of Arise TV. We spoke about our designs and taking Jamaican fashion to the international fashion scene.

2014-02-17 (5)                                                   Claire and I being interviewed on Arise TV

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2014-02-17 (3)Left: Claire Requa, TV personality – Jason Mansaray, Abenah Gonzalez

Succeeding our interview, which was brief and well done, we travelled to Bond Street near our showcase to pay a visit to the talented and skilful bridal couturier, Clariscia Gill. We reunited with everyone else and Gill showed us around her salon, her work room and her designs. With only one full day left in London, we all ended the evening at the High Commissioner’s home where we were invited for dinner. Being in her presence was always very warming and welcoming. Her sister is an excellent cook. We all devoured in delicious Jamaican cuisine, pastry, sorrel and wine. The HC told us stories about her experiences as a representative of the Queen of England and her many meetings with her. Everyone enjoyed the evening.

BRIDAL COUTURIER – CLARISCIA GILL 

P1050415 Left: Ayanna Dixon, Claire Requa, Clariscia Gill, Abenah Gonzalez and Simone Nielson

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JAMAICAN DESIGNERS VISIT CLARISCIA GILL BRIDAL COUTURIER by iDeLick Media


DINNER WITH THE JAMAICAN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM

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                                                   Her Excellency, Aloun Ndombet Assamba and I

DAY 8 – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY, 18, 2014 – ONE-ON-ONE WITH AVIS CHARLES

 

On our last full day in London, I would certainly receive the best fashion advice I had ever obtained. We were fortunate enough to have our collections viewed, critiqued and we were given one-on-one feedback on our brands by Avis Charles. Mrs. Charles is a British/ Jamaican who has done considerable amount of work with Vivienne Westwood and Victoria Beckham. She has also acted as Victoria Beckham’s design consultant from the beginning of Beckham’s brand to present. She is also keen on meeting emerging talent which came through during her visit. Charles gave us tips on the betterment and development of our brands. During her talk with me, she expressed that she loved my collection and was quite fond of my loud and funky style. She answered all my baffling designer questions without me even asking. She really hit the nail on the head. I was so happy; the joy she brought me led me to give her a big hug. I thanked her and she laughed and told me that when I gain the type of success that I’m seeking, I should remember that day. That evening, we broke down the instillation and went back to the hotel to pack because the following day was departure day.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAvis Charles and I

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DAY 9 – WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014 – DEPARTURE DAY

Early Wednesday morning, we ate breakfast and left out for our morning flight at the Gatwick airport. Upon arrival, those of us who didn’t do online check in did so and we prepared to board. Soon we were in the air again and 10 hours later we landed in Jamaica. I loved London; I loved the architecture, the landscaping and the importance of the fashion industry to the city. The entire trip has certainly been educational and stimulating, especially being exposed to so many branches of the fashion tree. Fashion is a global industry and the trip has pushed me to think differently as a designer because of the live and direct experience of London Fashion Week. Showing my collection at International Fashion Showcase parallel to London Fashion Week was an amazing experience, which has allowed me to think differently about multiple things, and strengthened my theoretical and practical understanding of appealing to international markets. I have been getting great feedback on my designs and the entire experience has left an incredibly positive mark on me. This is definitely a stepping-stone for me to do even greater things. I have learned more about the business of fashion and how important it is to research and plan
everything when it comes to my brand. I think research and planning are key elements to succeeding in the trade and lots of the workshops and talks we attended reiterated this. I also learnt how to present myself better to clients and what works best for the development of my brand. I really connected to London as an individual and a designer. It was a fantastic experience!

Arrival in Jamaica

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Jamaica Business Development Cooperation, British Council, British Fashion Council, Jamaica Tourist Board, 360 Degrees,  Jamaican High Commission for the United Kingdom, International Fashion Showcase, British Airways, Jamaica Observer, Tourism Enhancement Fund and Quintisentially Karabean.