Thanks for the positive feedback, readers and, yes, designers. We're sharing more expert advice from London-based luxury fashion consultant David Jones, and his PR, branding and design consultant colleague Louise Laurent, who were at Caribbean Fashion Week 2012 scouting fashion designers for the European market.
Which night was the strongest for you?
DJ: The final night was the strongest. If you could take the strongest collections from each night, edit and put together in one night, then it would be a great show.
Who were the strongest designers on the final night?
LL: On Sunday night the standouts were Julan, Atelier Dore, Zadd and Eastman and Gavin Douglas. I loved Julan's line with the leather detailing, and rich vibrant colours. Atelier Dore was a stunner and those pieces would sell in Europe. The bags are like nothing we have seen before, which speaks to imagination at work. We both said, "Wow", from the first piece, and our attention was commanded for the entire collection. The Zadd and Eastmann collection was also a great show, from the designs to the finish, to the focus and presentation. Gavin Douglas is one of David's former mentees and he showed an immaculate collection. He had exactly what the European market desires, and again it speaks to the training and development. Theatrics is his strong point and it was evident in his collection.
What improvements could have been done to make the presentations stronger?
DJ: Primarily, some of the collections had too many pieces to begin with, and as such they were lacking in focus. Someone should have told the designers to keep the collections succinct and focused. There was too much going on with some collections — no focus, and you simply cannot be everything to everyone at once. We are here to build and develop talent and so it would have been lovely if we could have had a one-on-one consultation with the designers who wanted to do it. We were hoping there would have been more consultations with us.
LL: It would have been lovely, too, to have had a session on marketing strategy, public relations and designing. It is pivotal to the designer that there is an appropriate marketing strategy in place — from the design of your business card to the pieces you create. Your business card represents you as a person and it has all your contact information. Based on some of the cards I received, one would not return a call. It says very little about creativity and fashion design.
What were the overall weak points with the collections?
DJ: It was evident there wasn't much formal training. The approach to presentations and focus in the collection were lacking. In Europe we have whole segments for swimsuits. While we respect that this is the Caribbean and the beautiful weather requires swimsuits, there was just too much. Designers need to take into consideration the weather difference. They're not designing for the Caribbean alone, they're designing for a whole new market. Some designers were trying too hard to please by creating too many pieces, and the more pieces there are, the greater the potential for the collection to lose its focus. Another issue was the poor choice of materials. It's easier to source textiles in Europe, where Paris is a train ride away from London and vice versa. But it can be done. Each designer may not be able to travel to Europe, but one designer could travel to Europe and share the necessary information. The designers should come together and perhaps develop a contract with a textile company.