HOT Couture Celebrates ‘Fashion For Freedom’

It’s back for a third year and you’d better believe Saint Lucia HOT Couture 2015 is going to trump itself once again! A snappily-dressed media contingent squeezed into the St. James Club conference room on Tuesday morning with an air of anticipation brought about by more than just the reward of post-launch crab cakes and coffee. Judging by the excited nods and spontaneous applause, they approved of this year’s plans for HOT Couture en masse.

The annual runway show has become a stylish jewel in the crown of the Jazz and Arts Festival, quickly gaining a reputation as one of the region’s must-do fashion events, and this year’s HOT Couture promises once again to bring talent, innovation and even a few surprises to the Johnsons Centre in Rodney Bay.

Dubbed “The Dream Team” by Saint Lucia Tourist Board’s John Emmanuel, SHE Caribbean publisher Mae Sabbagh Wayne and Landmark Events director Adrian Augier will once again collaborate as the creative force that has become synonymous with HOT Couture.

The pair tendered for this year’s fashion extravaganza despite a brutally short timeline and curtailed budget but, as Augier pointed out at the media launch, there is no other team capable of delivering the international standards now expected from HOT Couture. And given the scope of this year’s vision, HOT Couture 2015 will be Wayne and Augier’s most audacious and cutting edge production to date, entitled ‘Fashion For Freedom.’

In an emotional and very personal speech, Mae Sabbagh Wayne spoke of the inspiration for the show, which came on the 36th anniversary of Saint Lucia’s Independence, and led her to examine how fashion is truly a representation of life and politics. Perhaps coming as a surprise for some of the younger media sleuths in the room, Wayne described her upbringing in war-torn Beirut where she “lived in army fatigues,” donned the keffiyeh in support of the PLO and the abaya in support of her Muslim friends; she also spoke of her controversial career in body-building, celebrating the human body in a way which challenged her culture as a Middle Eastern woman.

A self-confessed global citizen, Wayne also spoke of Saint Lucia, her adopted home of almost three decades, and her pride in the opportunities presented by HOT Couture for local designers to showcase their talents alongside the best in the region.

The running list for the May 6th show is an impressive one, including Saint Lucians Lyn Bristol, Fiona Compton and Queen Esther. Trinidad designer-to-the-stars Meiling will return for a second year along with Meiling Men’s Anthony Reid; and Guadeloupe’s Tamara Depestre will show her resort-inspired Lily Deziles.

And in a coup which will see Saint Lucia HOT Couture as her first runway show in the Caribbean, Anya Ayoung-Chee—designer, Project Runway Season 9 winner, SHE Caribbean cover girl, Carnival high priestess and all-round Trinidadian household name —will join the line up at The Johnsons Centre.

In another first for Saint Lucia, on the very day that President Obama announced an historic decision to remove Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terror, and one week after his cordial handshake with Raul Castro, the HOT Couture organisers announced that this year’s
show will include a Cuban element called ‘Arte y Moda,’ which translates to ‘Art and Fashion.’

This collaboration of Cuban designers will bring an avant garde fusion of design and performance to the HOT Couture stage, portraying the symbiotic relationship of fashion as art, and art as inspiration for fashion.

Ambassador to Cuba, His Excellency Jorge Soberon spoke of the inspiration and pride he felt when Wayne approached him with the idea, after she had experienced the Cuban designers at a show in the Bahamas last year. This innovation of visual artistry blew the SHE Caribbean publisher away with a uniquely creative expression she felt would be appreciated by the Jazz and Arts Festival audience.

With a 100% Lucian model cast being drilled into shape by the island’s most experienced runway model, Denise Lay, an interval show designed to keep the audience entertained and a glittering after party on board The Pearl, HOT Couture 2015 ‘Fashion For Freedom’ is guaranteed to rock the runway at The Johnsons Centre on May 6 from 6pm.

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