About Guyana Fashion Weekend

What the people say…

Interviews by Abigail Semple
This week What the people say asked designers from this year’s Guyana Fashion Weekend (GFW) what their expectations from the event were and what the experience was like.

Patricia Helwig: ‘This is my second time being a part of GFW and it has been very good but tiring because of the amount of pieces we had to do; each designer had to do 20-22 pieces in clothing. I do African pieces a lot and I realize that that is my niche. I design mainly for full-figured women. From last year to this year, I think the response is better; there are thirty local designers and there are also designers from other countries like Suriname and other Caribbean countries. In that way I think it‘s better. This is GFW’s fifth year and for Guyana I think it’s a plus, because no other country has gone for so long. We had to have been doing really well to be in it for five years straight. GFW has helped me a lot; before I entered last year, I never liked sewing, but since I entered, with the responses I get and the amount of orders coming in for my pieces, I have been motivated to sew more. It has helped me to move from one level to the next.’

Taaliba Forrester: ‘This is my first time taking part in GFW, and so far I’m finding it interesting. I’m not new to fashion shows, however, as I take part in shows at Aracari Resort and other places in Guyana. So far it has been good. I’m getting a lot of exposure and I get to meet new people. I think this year’s GFW will definitely be a success and I will get a boost in business, so I’m looking forward to big things. More people will get to know about my work and that I’m mingling with other big designers through the airing of GFW, and this will help my business.’

Keisha Stephen: ‘This is my first time entering, and I’m finding it very hard and very overwhelming and tiring; I have had many late nights. I’m 14 years old and I started designing three years ago. I would like to become one of Guyana’s top designers like Sonia Noel. All my pieces are finished and ready to be displayed. I think being a part of this GFW will help me to get the exposure and so people would know more about me and my work. I think the response will be good this year.’

Louis Jordan: ‘This is my first venture into GFW and I found it to be time-consuming. The plus side however is the responses you get from visitors. I think GFW will help me a lot because persons will get to see my work and I will be showcasing my work and get contracts to do more designs as well as sponsorship. I have been following GFW over the years and to me, this year will be more attractive as there are more designers, more pieces and our youngest designer, whose pieces are very interesting. I design leather craft handbags, wallets and purses.’

Dominique La Roche (Trinidad): ‘This is my fourth time being apart of GFW; last year was the only time I did not take part, so I was here from its inception. For her shows Sonia is always looking for particular details and more innovation; there is a lot of fine-tuning involved and because of that the formulas have to be adjusted slightly… I wish some of the older models who were here from the inception would stay around a little longer, so as to teach the newer ones a little more about what this is all about; the discipline involved. A lot of the younger breeds have a lot of misconceptions; they think it‘s all about the stage, but it’s not just about the stage but also offstage and the training involved. I’m glad to be here again, glad to be part of the endeavour of the bigger building of Caribbean style. I would like to thank Sonia for having me, and I promise that I will continue to support her in every way necessary.’

Robert Young: ‘This is my second time taking part; I took part in 2008. So far the temperature is 100 degrees. I’m not supposed to be here because I’m sick with the flu so I had told Richard Young (my brother) that I wasn’t going to come, but he persuaded me to anyway, and I don’t regret it. Guyana is a beautiful place, and GFW is a place where we designers get to meet other designers from different parts of the Caribbean and share each other’s experiences. This year should be better but the economy is hard; there were fewer resources in 2008. The important thing about GFW is meeting with other designers, displaying our pieces and getting the much needed publicity.’

Nigel Eastman (Trinidad; co-designer with Omzad Khan): ‘This is our first time in Guyana, but we’ve been in the fashion business for ten years. I just came in yesterday (Friday) and I’m getting things together. Fashion is about the garments; the type of materials used, the cuts, what’s fashionable, what’s not; and a lot of people who go to fashion shows don’t recognize this. They think it’s about the music and about the models, so they don’t pay much attention to the designs. I do fashion designing on the side, because I have another job, but I take this fairly seriously. Being a part of GFW is almost like community service; we’re exposing Trinidad to Guyana and vice versa.’

Karl Brown (Jamaica): ‘This is my first time taking part in GFW, and a preparation always is… hectic. Being here, the reception and response is very overwhelming. I haven’t been following GFW because I just got involved, but from the feedbacks, I’ve realized that this year has been better. GFW is spreading its wings to other designers; that’s why I’m here. This is the first time they’re involving hat designs and furniture, etc, and I think it’s really trendsetting. I have really been blessed in saturating Jamaica and my aim is to make an impact in other parts of the Caribbean, so being here is a window of opportunity for me to get this done.’

Marlon Griffith (Marketing representative for Sher’s Fashion): ‘This is our first time entering GFW, and we chose to be a part to make a statement. We’re the first fashion store to come on board to my knowledge. Our aim is to tap in on the Guyanese market and have local talented designers have us market their stuff for them. We are excited and overwhelmed for being onboard thanks to Sonia Noel. This is an exciting event for Guyana. It’s an opportunity to show the rest of the world what we can do.’


Janelle Oosterling (Suriname):
‘This is my first time in GFW but not my first time showcasing my pieces in Guyana; I was here for the Jamzone pageant and all of the delegates displayed my pieces. This will be an opportunity for me to have my pieces showcased on television, not only in the Caribbean but all over. My specialty is crochet and hand-made roses.’