By Dwain Wellington Rattray
Pride Contributing Editor
The Trinidad and Tobago 51st Independence Gala in Toronto on Saturday, August 24, 2013 took the shape of the fashion show, Cuttin’ Style. To say the celebration was a resounding success would be nothing short of a gross understatement.
Collaborating with the Trinidad and Tobago Heritage Group (TTHG), Joan Pierre, who served as Executive Producer, once again delivered an event that left those in attendance with a feeling of euphoria.
Pierre who first conceptualized and produced the show in 2008 says she is, “thrilled to work with the Trinidad & Tobago Heritage Group this year, to re-establish the event as an annual Gala.”
If the nod from Trinidad and Tobago is any indication, Ms. Pierre and the TTHG will certainly be back to deliver more couture. Among the group of sponsors were government bodies, including: Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of Community Development and Culture, Tobago House of Assembly, Tobago. Corporate sponsorship also offered a vote of confidence, in Caribbean Airlines facilitating travel from Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto.
Writer, Spoken Word Artist and Actor Ann-Marie Woods, aka Amani, hosted the evening with particular flair. With her heritage rooted in Trinidad and Tobago, the 2013 BBPA Harry Jerome Award for Excellence in Entertainment recipient who was born in East Hackney, England kept those in attendance warmly entertained throughout dinner and the show.
Cuttin’ Style finds it important to bring awareness to North America about the designers shown. Creative Director Richard Young says the event seeks to display, “a new perspective to fashion indigenous to the Caribbean.” The acclaimed fashionista is concerned that far too often clothing sold as “island wear is limited to Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts and Panama hats, though none of these countries are in the Caribbean.”
The designers who treated the visual palate were: Delia Alleyne (Tobago), Zadd & Eastman (Trinidad), Robert Young, The Cloth (Trinidad), Cassie Daniel, Yesa Designs (Tobago), Claudia Pegus (Trinidad) and Cherith Burke (Toronto). Tobagonian jewellery designer Dianne Dennis’ unique bone collection was featured – and pleased audience members just as much. One audience member remarked of a shirtless male model, “Is he wearing jewellery?”
To articulate the myriad accolades due each of the fashion lines offered, would require more space that we have available. Suffice it to say that Gloria Small-Clarke, Vice-Chair of TTHG was correct when she remarked in a pre Cuttin’ Style interview that the event was, “just not one of the shows that you can afford to miss.”
Joan Pierre was on point when she remarked that “the work is unique and beautiful. It draws on our mix of cultures, African, South Asian, East Asian and European, creating, with the effervescent influence of our Carnival, some of the most fabulous clothing and jewellery you have laid your eyes on.”
While fashion was a big chunk of the evening, music was also integral in the weaving of cultural appreciation. Quisha Wint provided her undeniably talented vocal range and Berklee College of Music student Dejehan “Luckystickz” Hamilton serenaded with the Steelpan.
Once the models left the stage, the deejay took completely over, and in traditional Caribbean fashion, the party began. Pierre and the TTHG envisions that party being translated to sales for designers and exposure in North America for clothing that does more than drape the human frame.