30 years of fashion

The fashion runway at BMEX 2014 will offer some of the most stylish nights out of the year as designers feature a taste of the best that Barbados has to offer.

Pat Brathwaite
Pat Brathwaite

Headlining next Saturday evening, June 7, will be well-known Barbadian designer Pat Brathwaite of Paju Designs who is celebrating 30 years in the fashion industry. Pat grew up in a family which was very much into fashion and that is where she developed a passion for sewing.

This passion was fuelled by her mentors Simon Foster and Carl Cadogan, who along with many others would have encouraged her along the way. Although her original intention was to develop a career in meteorology she followed the passion within and realized there was a vibrant fashion industry for the taking. At age 19 with the decision that she wanted to have her own business Pat took whatever courses were available at the time in batik and tie-dye as well as some in tailoring; anywhere she could gain knowledge she was there.  However while she did not take the path of meteorology, her love of the outdoors is still strongly reflected in her work. The flowers, fauna, shells and nature itself is where she gravitates when she is being creative and they feature heavily in her designs.

Pat attributes her success to the support of others, self-determination and the ability to set goals and make them happen.

“I always give 150 per cent and when people started to see my work they connected with it, word spread and people would enquire about me. What I believe is my strength is my ability to fit any body shape. I can work with any age from 17 to 80 and outfit them appropriately and with the touch of class I like associated with my work.  I have no limits and I am not afraid to be criticized. One of my daring pieces was a wedding dress with live flowers.  It was outside the box designing but subsequently a bride-to-be from the UK saw the piece and ordered a similar concept for herself, so I dare to be me,” she added.

Over the 30 year career span one of Pat’s most memorable moments was showcasing her work in the Royal Albert Hall in Britain.

Fashion will be in full display at BMEX.
Fashion will be in full display at BMEX.

“It was my first real experience of a blend of fashion and culture and it took my mind to a different level. I saw garments from India and China for example and it was there I really realized that there are no limits to fashion. That experience taught me that I would be a fashion designer and I soaked in as much as I could,” she said.

“It is a real pleasure as an artist to be able to express yourself in your work. The collection for BMEX is going to be very “me”. It will be a bridal collection with a difference that will showcase pieces from the time the bride gets married to the time she goes on her honeymoon and the pieces she might wear in between. There will also be some pieces for the guys, including tailored pieces and even others for the mother-of-the- bride. I will also be bringing a few couture pieces and there will be the added bonus of a range of accessories on stage; hats, bags and headpieces which accentuate the pieces and show a different side of Pat Brathwaite.”

Also on stage will be the work of designer Wayne Smith who has fond memories of how his career began.

Wayne Smith
Wayne Smith

“As a child I was always interested in the sewing machine standing in the corner of my grandmother’s house. I never saw her use it. At that time she could no longer see. My father worked as a driver at a garment factory and he would always bring homes off cuts to use around the house.  One day I stitched some of these panels together and made a skirt.  In my early teens, my brother and I decided that we were going to ‘make clothes’.   We bought fabric, pulled apart a shirt and a pair of pants; used the pieces as patterns and there I started.  My friends and neighbours were willing guinea pigs and I also started to make little dresses for my female friends.  In1985 at the age of seventeen one of these same friends entered the Miss Bajan Beauty Pageant and found herself without a designer a week before the show.  She asked if I was willing to make her a gown and without hesitation I said yes. The fact that I had never seen a gown up close was not a hindrance and I jumped right in,” he recalled.

“The following year I entered Barbados Community College as a student in the first Bachelors of Fine Arts programme in fashion design.  There I met the woman that would be a defining influence in my career, Joyce Price.  She taught pattern making and garment construction and the importance of getting the details right.  She insisted that the garments needed to look as well finished on the inside as on the outside.

“My gowns and costumes have been featured in shows such as Miss Caribbean International, Miss Carnival, Jaycees Caribbean Carnival Queen Contest, Miss
St Vincent and the Grenadines
, Miss Caribbean-Tourism, Miss Caribbean-Queen Of The World, Miss Les Belles Filles, Miss Barbados-USA, Miss World and Miss Universe,” Wayne added.

Some of the top local entertainers have graced many local regional and international stages wearing Wayne Smith designs including John King, Edwin Yearwood, Allison Hinds, Adrian Clarke, Rosie Hunte, Mya Daniel, Carolyn Leacock to name a few.  International celebrities have also worn Smith’s designs. Barbara Smith of B. Smith With Style chose his garments for the filming of the television programme when it was shot on location in Barbados. Wayne Smith has also outfitted South African singer Lorraine Klassen.

“I am inspired by life around me. The ability to take two dimensional fabric, cut shapes and sew them together in a manner that causes the finished product to be moulded to the human figure, without creasing and pulling as that figure moves, is privilege.  I can argue that I did not choose Fashion…Fashion chose me,” Wayne declared.

Smith intends to show a collection of garments based on classical elegance with the Wayne Smith touch of colour at BMEX 2014.

Look out for dazzling pieces at BMEX 2014.
Look out for dazzling pieces at BMEX 2014.

The Design and Fashion pavilion with be a hive of activity nightly at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, June 7 to 9.

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