Jamaica Observer / Guests and patrons attending Saturday’s staging of Fashion Block , the penultimate event of Styleweek Jamaica, were forced to wait almost two hours for the start of the event on Saturday night in New Kingston. At the advertised 9:00 pm start, patrons and specially invited guests were forced to watch stage hands lay down the adhesive mat which covered the length of the impressive runway that stretched down Knutsford Boulevard — the arterial thoroughfare in the business district. Therefore it was not until close to 11:00 pm that the first of the evening’s one dozen collections finally took to the stage.

With Saint International’s impressive army of models as muses, the designers sent their works down the runwayand recreated the air of excitement which has been a hallmark of the event for a number of years. Of course, some collections were more impressive than others.

Jamaican-born, Colombia-based designer Caffery Van Horne, whose collection closed the event, was indeed the best of show. Featuring sophisticated, well-conceived and constructed garments, this collection was presented in a very professional manner. In hues which ranged from soft pastels to elegant blues and black, Van Horne’s work was a study in how to create and present a world-class collection.

Of the local designers, fashion labels Neahlis and T&T Fashions must be commended for putting that extra effort into their collections. For Neahlis, the signature breezy caftans and maxis in bolt prints were given new life thanks to interesting cuts and designs. Designer Lisa Aris also continues to put emphasis in the look of her collection on a runway. This time round she teamed her designs with crafty handbags and sandals.

Tasha Gordon of T&T Fashion must be commended for consistently putting high-quality garments on the runway. Her usual mix of African-inspired fabrics with edgy designs came out a winner once again. Never dull or boring, these items popped against the white flooring of the long runway, and in the age of Black Panther the collection may have given many Wakanda fever.

Other designers who displayed their collections were Shades of Africa, an improved Kadian Nicely, Balla Shawn-who represented with menswear, Donovan Depass, Mamayashi, RĂªve Jewellery, Andre Shirley and Rick B. Designer Keshorn Hawthorne must be commended for bringing the drama to the event with his combat-inspired collection.

Fashion Block would not be complete without entertainment and this year it was up to three female acts to inject some music into the fashion event. Newcomer Kim tried but failed to get the audience going. The versatile Ikaya never fails to impress with her powerful vocals and stagecraft. Dropping a string of favourites on the audience in her short set, Ikaya delivered well on Hard Way, I Ain’t Giving Up, Ugly Girl and Fly Away. Dancehall act D’Angel was at home on the New Kingston runway. The former model strutted and danced her way through an energetic set which included her tracks No Worries, Blaze, Stronger and One Man during which MC Jerry D filled in as dance partner where her estranged husband Beenie Man left her hanging during a previous performance.

— Richard Johnson

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