One of the best nuggets of news to come out of this year’s Saint Lucia HOT Couture is that Queen Esther Joseph is onboard and planning to show two collections in the May 7 runway extravaganza. Queen is a legend in the local fashion industry, and her Kuumba Designs label has made fans of regional celebrities, musicians and stylish professionals, not just because the clothes are gorgeous, but because of the sustainable ethos behind everything Queen Esther does.
Kuumba Designs are exclusive, functional and created in a wide variety of sustainable fabrics from handcrafted crocheted cotton to linen and hemp, from silk to chiffon to organza. Queen Esther draws inspiration from her extensive travels and interaction with people, art, fruits and flowers, blending ethnic and historical influences with contemporary creativity. Self-confidence and passion for design is paramount. She continually experiments with new techniques, always seeking to be different with her approach to fashion.
After her high profile withdrawal from the inaugural HOT Couture, no doubt many hot-pinez were looking for a bit of soaps this year. Alas they’ll have to look elsewhere, because Queen Esther is back with two collections, along with all the passion, creativity, energy and chat that make her a household name among the island’s discerning fashionistas.
Speaking to Mae Wayne in a consultation about her brand new resortwear line, Queen explained some of the inspirations behind the 2014 Kuumba Designs.
Taking the tradition of weaving as an example, Queen uses screwpine straw and sisal, known locally as lapit, which is made especially for her by a Carib craftsman in Choiseul, home of her mother. Cotton, linen and silk fabrics feature heavily, although we won’t spoil ahead of the big night reveal!
“I want to portray a story where Indigenous meets Recycling, and the whole idea of the line is that we are conscious . . . of our geographic location: we should have sustainable living, and move towards a green living space.”
Contributing to the sustainable concept is the fact that the new resortwear range is hand-wash and line-dryable, thereby doing away with the expensive and environmentally unfriendly dry-cleaning associated with high-end fashion and couture. It’s also financially practical in our hot climate—after all, who can afford to dry clean after every wear in this hot climate?
Other Saint Lucian designers in the HOT Couture line up include Fiona Compton, who has teamed up her Paradise Prints with friend and fellow designer Taribba Do Nascimento’s Même Bête handbags; veteran fashion creator Shazi Chalon will take the runway once again with a menswear line as well as ladieswear, collaborating Perry Martial, whose hand-crafted sisal bags were a huge hit at last year’s show.
Newcomer to the island scene is Treasure Frederick, who studied at the London College of Fashion and graduated in 1980 with a slew of City & Guilds qualifications. He returned home to his native Saint Lucia five years ago with half a lifetime of experience in design and bespoke tailoring, and has been quietly being discovered since then. Says Treasure: “I’m not a fashion person . . . I have never been influenced by it . . . I’m interested in longevity, timelessness and style . . . not fashion.”
Look out for more news from behind the scenes at HOT Couture in Saturday’s STAR, and check out all the latest at SHE Caribbean’s HOTBlog 758 at www.stluciastar.com.