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Grenada, Haiti, Madagascar, Trinidad and The Bahamas are big winners at IWFW 2009

11/8/2009 12:00:00 AM

By Reva Sharma

Nassau, Bahamas -- Though all the designers came to Islands of the World Fashion Week (IWFW) to flaunt their collections, their creativity was also put to the test as they all vied for various awards during the event. The new designers battled for the NxGen Designer Award, while veteran participants aligned themselves to possibly be awarded one of four Seals of Excellence Awards. Additional awards were also available for designers that constructed special Sustainable Eco-Fashion and Cultural Fashion garments.

Celebrity judges on hand for the event were Susan Stein and Luis Sarmiento. Stein, a fashion diva in her own right, has been a staple in the fashion industry for more than two decades managing marketing, merchandising and public relations for fashion retailers and designers. Sarmiento is one of the fashion industry’s foremost commentators and also the publisher of IMG’s the Fashion DAILY Magazine.

Madagascar’s Eric Raisina took home top honours as he won both the Sustainable Eco-Fashion Award and one of the four Seals of Excellence Awards. The Sustainable Eco-Fashion Award is given for effectively using environmentally friendly products while incorporating environmental or social issues into designs. Raisina won for his outfit called African Lace, which includes a crocheted raffia dress, raffia and silk organza hat, and a silk organza scarf.

The Culture and Fashion Award, given for incorporating a uniquely cultural element in garment design was won by Jessie-Ann Jessamy of Grenada for her spice cloth patterns and design, which carries the slogan “Be spice. Discover authentic Grenada.”

Jessamy, who is very much into print and pattern making said, “We love to print; the process is organic, tied to our love for traditions. It’s not only about the destination but the experiences along the way… in your clothes”

Darcel de Vlugt won the NextGen Designer Award for her edgy but elegant cocktail and evening dresses. Trinidadian native de Vlugt believes that people should “speak through fashion and style. It is only shallow is there is no meaning behind what you wear or your reason for wearing it.”

The NextGen Designer Award looks for creativity, expression of style, selection of fabric and colour, and quality of execution of the design. Qualifying designers would not have produced a line before, would have been designing less than three years, and would not be employed at a major fashion house. The award winner in this category will receive a six to twelve month internship with an internationally recognized designer, as well as the opportunity to participate in the International Competition of the Total Look Awards.

Four Seals of Excellence are awarded for outstanding and exceptional performance in overall design creativity, expression, and quality of workmanship/production. The other three winners in this category included Bahamian Beverly Taylor for Harl Taylor BAGs, Jamaica’s Kenneth ‘K-Bobby’ Edgar for K-Bobby Couture and Murielle Leconte, for her beautiful and colorful designs from Haiti.

Finally, the Humanitarian Designer Award was given to Hennes & Mauritz AB known as H & M.
The Swedish clothing company has been hailed as an “unsung ethical hero” for their work practices and use of natural materials in clothing production, like organic cotton. Though they were not present to accept the award, they did issue a statement saying how encouraged they felt by the award to continue their work.

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