Sadie Soas pleased with nat'l awardTuesday, October 19, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
FASHION designer Mercedes “Sadie” Soas is proud to have stitched a legacy onto the global stage. She was one of several members of the arts and entertainment fraternity honoured at the National Honours and Awards ceremony yesterday, receiving an Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for her contribution to Jamaica's fashion industry.
For the second year, the annual Heroes' Day ceremony was virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I'm excited and appreciative of the award,” Soas told the Jamaica Observer. “My family was one of the first Jamaican families in Kingston to get involved in the business. We had a business in downtown Kingston, and my mother used to sew items for sale. But, it wasn't until I travelled to New York and got formal training at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) that I officially launched a career… [As a Jamaican] I still have something that the world doesn't and I must say that back then, Jamaica didn't have high fashion. We have evolved from calico and bandana…” she said.
Soas, 81, has been involved in the industry for over 50 years.
The designer has done pieces for several prominent Jamaicans, including Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna, Lorna Golding (wife of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding), Lady Ivy Cooke (wife of former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke), the first Miss Jamaica World winner Joan McDonald, and Miss Jamaica World 1976 Cindy Breakspeare.
Soas recalled bringing Jamaican fashion to Europe during an international design competition held in France when she was younger, which saw her coming out on top.
“The Jamaica High Commission hosted us at this event and it was a bunch of different countries. I remember they were so impressed by the designs. Pierre Cardin (Italian-French designer) took us on his yacht after the competition, and he was just in awe at the level of talent and the different designs coming out of Jamaica,” she said.
Soas operated from her home in Kingston for much of her life, before opening Sadie Soas Boutiques at the Montego Bay Racquet Club and Miranda Ridge Shopping Arcade in western Jamaica. The Poinciana Hotel in Negril also carried her designs in its boutique. In 1988, Soas opened Finé Bouche, a boutique which operated in the New Kingston Shopping Centre.
She says there is not much of a difference in local fashion now, when compared to decades ago.
“I think things are pretty much the same. In terms of women's fashion especially, nothing has really changed. Men's fashion has probably evolved more,” she said.
She had a word of advice for emerging fashion designers.
“If it's not your passion, don't do it. You'll never do it as well as that person [who is passionate] because I do believe it [the talent] is from God,” she added.
Other entertainment players who were vested with awards yesterday were: guitarist Ernie Ranglin, who was vested with the Order of Jamaica; film coordinator Michael “Boysie” London (Order of Distinction in the class of Officer), and Aston “Family Man” Barrett (Order of Distinction Commander Class).
Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson, Donald “Tabby” Shaw, and Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson of The Mighty Diamonds, as well as gospel deejay Cleve “Stitchie” Laing were enrolled in the Order of Distinction (Officer Class).