The HOT Couture production team headed by Mae Sabbagh Wayne and Adrian Augier is working feverishly on plans for the May 6th event which promises to excel itself as a unique fashion spectacle at this year’s Jazz and Arts Festival.Once again the Johnsons Centre in Rodney Bay will be the venue for a glittering production, the details of which are gradually emerging, as builders construct the set, the sound crew mixes the backing track, designers finalise their collections and HOT Couture buzz heats up. Already, activity behind the scenes has amped up with hours of model rehearsals taking place for the last two weeks. Many familiar faces from 2014 have returned, citing HOT Couture as a pivotal moment in their budding catwalk careers, and a new crop of talent is joining the cast this year.
The HOT Couture theme was inspired by producer Mae Sabbagh Wayne’s own relationship with fashion as an expression of the political and cultural zeitgeist of generations. “Fashion and freedom—or the lack of freedom—are inseparable,” stated Wayne at the media launch for the show earlier this month.
“We express ourselves via the language of fashion. Fashion is history. Fashion is Freedom! Fashion was closely associated with the hippie movement; with the war in Vietnam; with Women’s Lib, with Punk Rock, and with the [decadent] 80s. And fashion is at the heart of how we live today.”
Given the theme, this year’s collaboration with Cuba is a stroke of timely genius, as our Caribbean neighbour makes strides in reconnecting with the western political machine after fifty years of cold war and embargo. Arte Y Moda is a stunning visual show by a collective of Cuban designers who take their inspiration from art and transform it into fashion, which is “performed” on the runway in an avant garde blend of dance and movement.
The concept was first highlighted locally in SHE Caribbean, after Mae Sabbagh Wayne experienced Arte Y Moda’s participation at a fashion event in The Bahamas. The show is described on cubaabsolutely.com as “very Cuban, imaginative, different, homespun. Cuban artists are paired with Cuban designers and the work . . . represents a synthesis of the artist’s work in the design of the outfits. The effect can be spectacular . . .”
And if rebellion is intrinsic in the struggle for freedom, Saint Lucia HOT Couture’s featured designer certainly represents on the fashion front. The Caribbean’s fashion rebel and high priestess of Trini mas, Anya Ayoung-Chee will show a specially designed collection on the runway at the Johnsons Centre. She is also on the cover of the current SHE Caribbean Magazine with a fascinating article about her journey thus far in the design industry.
Ayoung-Chee hails from Trinidad and Tobago via New York City. She was educated at both Central Saint Martins in London and Parsons New School for Design in NYC. Her career as a designer began when she represented Trinidad and Tobago in the Miss Universe Pageant in 2008, and her love affair with flowing silhouettes and bold prints would catapult her into a world of design. She launched her first women’s label, PILAR, in May 2009 and in 2010 followed with a lingerie line named ANYA DE ROGUE, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
In 2011, Anya was cast as the underdog in Season 9 of Lifetime Television’s Project Runway. She emerged victorious after showing a stunning Spring/Summer 2012 Collection named TOBAGO LOVE at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, winning the entire competition and the ‘Fan Favourite’ prize.
During the past three years she has done much for her country, Trinidad and Tobago. In 2012 she was appointed Tourism Ambassador and visited many parts of the world as a spokesperson for the twin island destination. Positioning herself as a major player in Trinidad’s Carnival industry, 2014 was her third year designing, hosting events, producing fashion shows and launching products curated for T&T’s annual celebration of mas.
With a designer line up including local veterans Queen Esther, Shazi Chalon and Lyn Bristol, along with crowd favourites like Fiona Compton and Taribba Do Nascimento, regional and international designers from Guyana, Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Turkey, it’s all systems go for Saint Lucia HOT Couture on May 6th at the Johnsons Centre.
Tickets are available online at www.stluciajazz.org and via outlets of The Cell in Vieux Fort, Castries and Bay Walk Mall, Rodney Bay. For behind the scenes news and updates
check SHE Caribbean’s Facebook page.