Stitching a legacy
Craig O Williams acknowledges the audience at the inaugural 'Yonkers Fashion Week' in New York last August.

LAST August when Craig O Williams' Cardicci Couture showed at Yonkers Fashion Week in New York, the Jamaica-born designer considered it another step up in the competitive world of haute couture.

Recently, Williams was confirmed for the annual Harlem Fashion Row, an expose for emerging designers scheduled for this summer in the famous New York City borough. It is another accomplishment for the Hartford, Connecticut, company he started in 1996.

Prior to the Yonkers event, Cardicci Couture's base was largely in New England. Yonkers Fashion Week, held for the first time, is a joint venture between Black Investors Group and the African American Advisory Board of Yonkers.

Williams, who was born in Jamaica to Italian and Cuban parents, told the Jamaica Observer that he welcomes any diverse platform to showcase his "unique style".

"I do try to reach a specific audience. My main target is to reach and cater to clients with a unique style and a bold appearance. These clients are usually always ready to show up and show out to the world with their outfits," he said.

Williams' ancestral history is fascinating. His maternal side are originally from Costa Rica but moved to Cuba where his grandmother Drucella ran a sewing factory that made uniforms for the army and government schools.

Political turmoil in Cuba resulted in some relatives moving to Miami and Jamaica, where Williams was born in 1965. Raised in Kingston, his earliest influence as a designer was his mother, a dressmaker.

Migrating to the United States in the 1980s, he maintained an interest in becoming a designer without formal training. Since the early 1990s he has been active in New England fashion circles, with his speciality being "red-carpet gowns" and "elaborate suits".

Williams' roots are never far from Cardicci Couture's creations.

"I would describe my style as it relates to fashion as expressive because it allows me to be vocal through outfits, captures a given mood, and allows authenticity. I do believe that there are Caribbean influences in my design as well as the process in achieving my designs," he said.

Models show Cardicci Couture designs at Yonkers Fashion Week in New York last August.
Howard Campbell

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