From the prom to the wedding — after the dress, everything is all downhill
For her election last year as the first black woman president of the Broward County Bar Association, Alison Smith wore black with green and gold accessories to promote Jamaica.

FROM the prom to the wedding, and all other important public events for women, it is, supposedly, all about the dress. Once that mountain has been climbed, it’s smooth sailing. For Alison Smith, there was no exception.

Getting ready for her history-making installation gala and banquet as the first black woman president of the 97-year-old Broward County Bar Association (BCBA), Smith knew that once she got the all-important dress, it was, as Welsh sportswriter Charles James Apperley said in 1842, “all over, bar the shouting”.

Smith had never missed an opportunity to promote her homeland Jamaica. And this installation ceremony was a prime event. She decided to use the dress to pay homage to the island now celebrating 60 years of Independence from Britain.

“I wanted to be the human Jamaican flag,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer after she was sworn in. And I also wanted to showcase Jamaica in a very tangible and meaningful way by wearing the colours of the flag in my dress, since the dress is always the most talked about part of the evening.”

To achieve her goal, and on the advice of a friend, she flew to Jamaica to see Carla Roberts, a dress designer for over three decades in Kingston.

“She came with the style she wanted and told me that the colours had to be of the Jamaican flag — the black, green and gold in lace, with the green popping out from a split along the leg,” Roberts disclosed in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“It was an interesting dress. I had never done one like that before but I was happy that she was recommended to me by a friend for whom I sew. What really surprised me, though, is that she came down just for that. Then she returned to fit it and pick it up,” said Roberts.

The dress designer, whose Sure Stitch company operates out of 72 Molynes Road and Lyndale Avenue in St Andrew, described Smith as “very patriotic and nice to deal with”.

She said the job had paid off otherwise because since the dress was delivered she has received some orders which she is busy filling with the help of her sister Leeann Roberts.

Roberts can be reached at or

— Desmond Allen

Carla Roberts, the Jamaican dress designer to whom Alison Smith turned to sew her all-important installation dress
Desmond Allen

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