Rochelle’s Designs emerges Fashiontastic winner

Rochelle's showstopper (photo by That Guy Images)
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Boost the Talented’s recent fashion battle ended in a resounding victory for last year’s runner up, Rochelle Lindsay of Rochelle’s Designs. Chief judge Calvin S applauded her for taking last year’s critique to heart and producing a much more cohesive collection in 2013.

“Last year we told her exactly where she went wrong and what she had to do, and she went home and did it,” he praised.

Post contest, Rochelle, still abuzz with excitement a full day later, told Observer Entertainment she appreciated the feedback last year, and thought he and the other the judges were on the money with this year’s criticism as well.

Among said criticism: that some of the designs had too many details or elements going on and could have done with a bit more editing, that the right model needed to be selected for the right garment, that styling could make or break the piece, and that attention must be given not just to design but to finish and presentation.

“For all aspiring designers, you should know exactly where you went wrong and how you could have made your designs more impressive,” said Calvin, a fashion veteran of 30 or so years. “If you want to win this competition or be a serious designer, you need to go back and rectify what you did wrong.”

As winner, Rochelle’s Designs claimed a $2,000 cash prize, and netted some new business and the sale of her showstopper piece in the process.

That most of the new business she attracted is people looking for looks for the white fête is perhaps not surprising, considering that white and silver comprised her colour palette in the competition. Building her brand and her client base is exactly what attracted Rochelle to the competition in the first place.

But it wasn’t the colour of her gown so much as the embellishments on the fabric, specifically tiny pieces of broken glass adding a bit of glimmer and glamour without overwhelming her pieces, that impressed the judges.

“The idea just came to me,” Rochelle told the Observer Entertainment. “I was just lying in my bed and said, ‘I like glass. I wonder how it would look.’”

She went to a hardware store where she was advised to use sandpaper to polish the edges. She did that with each piece and it was clearly well worth the effort.

The Jamaican-born seamstress of some 18 years, eight of those in Antigua, who’s only lately begun referring to herself as a designer, showed all bridal gowns which is another interesting departure.

“My idea was they’re all brides but different bride with different personalities,” she said.

Runners up behind Rochelle were first-timers Shem and Nicoya Henry, who presented together as Hénrý with Nicoya, a model-on-the-rise also modeling one of her pieces.

Calvin, speaking for all the judges, said they did a “splendid job” and praised their model choice as “exceptional” but found fault with the fact that the fabrics weren’t pressed.

It’s worth noting that Rochel saw Hénrý as her strongest competition, noting that their outfits were well made and well fitted. Last year’s winner, Dreads and Threads, placed third.

“I was extremely impressed with you last year,” Calvin said. “I think this year, you put a little too much in the designs…one or two could have been simplified.”

He also criticised her choice of models, ie the need to match the appropriate model with the appropriate design. Dreads and Threads won a steamer and Hénrý a sewing machine. Also receiving trophies of participation were Nox Design and Sonia Fashion.

Overall, Calvin thought Fashiontastic was a good showing with respect to the industry’s potential.

“The Fashion industry in Antigua and Barbuda is growing,” he said. “It’s impressive to see so many young people doing design and creating their own garments.”

Finally, our critique of the event: good job transforming the centre at Simon Bolivar Park into a fashion-friendly venue from the pan music and entry way, to the interior layout. But the lengthy delay to show time is a standard we need to stop accepting; and better staging and some trimming of some of the non-fashion elements, perhaps fitting some of them into the period when the judges are deliberating in lieu of an intermission, could have made for a tighter production.

The organiser, Veronica Nelson, is to be commended for the fact that her marketing efforts yielded a turnout of about 300, as well as for a mostly good execution of a fashiontastic idea. She perhaps needs more of a support team for smoother flow of everything ranging from the gate to technical production, but the competition itself was entertaining and the judges well chosen and on point.

Already looking ahead, Nelson has pledged that 2014 is going to be bigger and better.


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