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Jessie-Ann Jessamy adds a little spice to IWFW

11/7/2009 12:00:00 AM
By Reva Sharma

Nassau, Bahamas -- Nothing embodied Grenadian flair and essence quite like Jessie-Ann Jessamy’s runway showcase. Her collection was full of bright summer style clothes that were unmistakably from the Caribbean.

Considering the inspiration this designer channels from Grenada’s flag ship spice, nutmeg, and its production, the company’s name, Spice Box, fits perfectly. In fact, the company’s production house is located in an old Nutmeg production station, which operates as the studio. “[The nutmeg station] is a backdrop for all the history in the work,” says Jessamy.

Spice Box showcased 16 outfits, mostly sundresses with a few cute combinations of flowing tops and shorts. Many of the outfits were brightly colored, with lots of yellow and white, as well as one or two splashes of orange, aqua, green, and red. Jessamy even showcased a beautiful island-style Marilyn Monroe dress in one of her signature white and purple prints, with a yellow scarf.

The rhythm of the music that played during certain parts of the runway show gave the outfits a very African feel, harping on the plantation and slave-rooted inspiration Jessamy had in her creations. “We’re still trying to keep it very trendy and usable,” she said, talking about her 60s and 70s inspiration as well as her use of organic materials.

However, Jessamy’s designer emphasis is on the prints and patterns, which are all done by hand. She 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.” The infusion of the patterns and designs brings a distinct island flavor to her work.

Her outfits would not have been complete without the wonderful accessories Spice Box also makes. Many of the purses designed by Jessamy are made from natural materials like burlap, bamboo, cotton, silk, and other natural fibers.

This was Jessamy’s first collection, and she plans to have a full run next year. She claims that IWFW is really an introduction for her into the fashion industry. She says she is “slowly venturing out”, especially when it comes to the prints and cloths.

Jessamy was first a fine artist, with her interests being more prints and pattern making, but lately, she has been using them to expand into other areas. She has been interested in anthropology, cultural studies, and carnival studies for many years, but has been designing for the last three years.

Jessamy says she uses “the anthropology background to design things that are, especially fabric, West Indian and then transcend from there outwards, instead of the other way around.”

Bahamian designer for Conchience Clothing, Giorgio Knowles, said the Spice Box collection was “phenomenal”.

“I would definitely love to patronize any of the clothing,” said Knowles.

(Check out our galleries for pictures of last night's showcase)
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