Straight talk from HOT Models on Mr. Chairman

The Face of HOT Couture Ayana Whitehead.

The Face of HOT Couture Ayana Whitehead.

In case you missed it, Thursday evening’s Mr. Chairman with Dave Samuels was all about Saint Lucia HOT Couture, and what an hour and a half of riveting conversation it was. Co-Producer Mae Wayne was making her second appearance on the “thinking people’s” talk show, and this time was accompanied by “Faces of HOT Couture 2014,” Ayana Whitehead in the studio, and Gibson Charles by phone.

He might have felt a little tongue-tied by the presence of one beauteous leggy blonde in person, and one set of legendary “rock hard abs” on the line, but Calabash TV’s veteran interviewer did a great job with the questions, as one would expect from The Chairman himself.

Perhaps unexpected were the professional, intelligent, and balanced responses of the two aspiring models, both of whom impressed with their disciplined, pragmatic approach to their chosen craft.

Saint Lucia HOT Couture is an interesting phenomenon, garnering immediate success in its first year to the point where the brand seems to have always been a household name. Perhaps the instant name recognition was aided by the much-touted “controversy” that Mr. Chairman was dying to grapple with, but any enquiring mind could see from Thursday’s discussions that the focus of the production team and cast is firmly planted in the preparations for the 2014 event.

A “bigger and better” HOT Couture for this year’s Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival was the promise from the Tourist Board, and according to some of the details shared by Mae Wayne, that is exactly what the production team of Adrian Augier, Dahlia Francois and Wayne will deliver on May 7th at the Johnsons Centre.

Bigger because the new HOT venue holds almost twice as many seats as last year, and the runway show itself will be in two parts, featuring more designers, more models and more people behind the scenes to pull it off.

Better because this year the show will have a cohesive theme and build on the experience of the inaugural event, by all accounts a learning curve not to be underestimated. Mae Wayne elaborated on the “Island Vibe” vision which is designed to showcase the Caribbean lifestyle enjoyed in this unique region, with a spotlight on the awards, recognition and international reputation Saint Lucia has gained as a destination for romance, spectacular natural beauty and of course partying!

With a total of eighteen designers showing swimsuits and resortwear in the first runway performance, and partywear and gowns in the second, this HOT Couture promises to be a logistical challenge, since hair and make-up will be re-tooled in the intermission. The backstage pressures will be enormous—on the production team but also on the models.

According to Ayana Whitehead, what the audience sees on the night is the ultimate grail, regardless of what happens before, during and afterwards. As soon as those four-inch stilettoes touch the runway, it’s all about professionalism, composure and discipline. Whitehead was selected as the female Face of HOT Couture because of her performance in last year’s show, and Mae Wayne described how in virtually every shot, the Guyanese-Lucian model hit her mark, locked eye contact with the camera and “sold” each garment to the audience.

Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Ayana’s contribution on Mr. Chairman was her realistic, highly un-glam description of an aspiring model’s existence, delivered without cynicism but with enough experience to know that pie-in-the-sky dreams and long legs are not enough to propel a pretty girl (or guy) into the industry. It’s obvious that Ayana is not just a pretty face, but a smart, articulate and highly driven young woman whose future is in her own hands, and who is not waiting around for help.

Discipline was a recurring theme, and after watching a few rehearsal sessions I can report that I certainly see what Ayana means. Anyone who thinks pretty clothes, sparkly make-up, vertigo-inducing footwear and a diva attitude is enough to make them the next Naomi Campbell should really listen up and wise up.

Respect, commitment, hard work, concentration, taking direction and focusing on the job at hand will stand any aspiring model in better stead than the widespread delusion that anyone with poise and a pout can make it. And as the Face of HOT Couture 2014, Ayana Whitehead should know.

Check The STAR on Wednesday for more about Saint Lucia HOT Couture, including all the latest on the featured local and regional Designers.

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