Style Observer

Greta Constantine sor STYLEWEEK Jamaica May 24-28

Sunday, May 07, 2017

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It's been quite a few years since our last convo with the Greta Constantine design duo of Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong. With news of their upcoming visit to Kingston, Jamaica for STYLEWEEK JAMAICA there seemed no better time to play catch up... “We always joke in the studio about what haven't we been up to,” shared Kirk Pickersgill. “We were extremely appreciative of your piece a number of years ago, that introduced our brand to the Jamaican fashion community. Since then, we've begun regularly showing in Paris, first for market appointments, and then over the past two years for media-driven presentations. In many ways, Paris has developed into a second home, albeit third, given that Jamaica was our first! We've learned to take risks, to never accept no, and to keep our minds open, ready to respond to whatever surprise finds itself in our way. Meeting retailers from across the world has served as an education unlike anything else — the customs and cultures that govern what we do, where we go, and of importance, what we wear. Last year, Greta Constantine was recognised by the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA) as Womenswear Designer of the Year. Our collection was also distinguished as Best Fashion Show and Best Hair by Canada's largest magazine, FASHION Magazine, for our Fall 2016 showing in North America's second largest fashion week, Toronto Fashion Week. Coming full circle, 2016 was the business's 10th year of existence which, given the turbulent nature of our indutry, is a feat unto itself. The collection is now available in over 25 doors worldwide, over 10 countries. To think of what we are now able to achieve from where it first began is both humbling and impeccably exciting as we enter the second decade of the brand.”

Canada and Europe are not the only fashion doors

“The Middle East,” Pickersgill explains, “is a region with an appetite and appreciation for special occasion dressing like no other. While the women of the region vary considerably, there is a universal respect for the power and strength that the wearer derives from a garment. Our understated approach to design that focuses on the curve and architecture of a style in place of embellishment or pattern served to distinguish Greta Constantine from other, often more established, design houses. Having said that, we've grown and learned so much from our clients in the Middle East, including the need for modesty in some regions and the desire for silhouettes that better fit unique body shapes in other parts.”

With mere weeks to go for STYLEWEEK JAMAICA, Pickersgill, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, is understandably very excited“ My parents and two sisters moved to Canada when I was only a year old. Many say that I am not a real Jamaican given my brief stay, but my parents, to this day, instil our day to day with our proud Jamaican roots. Between the plenty of travels to see family in Kingston and the countless stories of them growing up over Sunday dinner, it feels like I never left, well, until it's winter outside in Canada! Stephen Wong is equally upbeat “I am the third generation of my family to be born in Jamaica. I, too, am from Kingston, Jamaica.” The two are in accord that “it's a long time coming!..” The suggestion to consider showing in Jamaica came about after a conversation with noted retailer Sophia Max Brown, who introduced the designer to Saint International CEO Deiwght Peters. Dialogue ensued via e-mail over the years but it was, says Pickersgill,“ last year that we had the pleasure of meeting him in person, in Paris no less! We travel frequently for work but nothing compares to the pride of introducing your staff to your nation of birth, with its unrivalled beauty and rich culture.”

So what are their expectations?

“We've grown accustomed to expecting the unexpected! There have been so many words of praise with respect to Style Week and how, year after year, the series of events continue to grow. There is so much talent in Jamaica, particularly the models that have found tremendous success abroad like Tami and Kai.”

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