Carifesta experience presented opportunity for growth – Carol Fraser

Fresh off the Carifesta XI catwalk in Suriname, ‘green’ designer Carol Fraser is looking to ensure the lessons and experiences gained there are used to the maximum benefit of the local industry. Carol, who led the team of local designers to the Caribbean event, has 27 years of experience in the industry under her belt. In addition, she is a certified hair dresser, make-up artist and cook. Carol’s craft items and designs in apparel and home furnishings emphasise the importance of being eco-friendly. Her media include both organic and biodegradable materials; she uses coconut fibres amongst other natural products and even recyclable resources. Carol is the founder of the Guyana Natural Fibres Association, which collaborates with Amerindian weavers to share and learn as much creativity as possible. The coconut fibres she uses can be made into hats, bags and belts. She reuses leather from shoes and will take the heels off old shoes or remove old bag straps to craft her designs. Carol has served on many projects with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, the most recent being Coordinator for Fashion for Guyana at Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts which was held from August 16 to 26 in Paramaribo. She had also served in similar capacity at the Inter-Guiana Cultural Festival. Four local designers represented Guyana at Carifesta: Sonia Noel, Marcia Dos Santos, Zarina Hamid and Carol herself. They all received very positive reviews along with a lot of invitations. Haiti has extended an invitation to its fashion week, which will be held from September 19 to 21. Antigua, Belize and Cuba also expressed interest. The designers were selected by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport during an open invitation exercise. Zarina Hamid, who is fresh on the scene, was one of the few designers in the Caribbean arts showcase who displayed an entirely male collection at the Grand Cultural Market and Trade Fair. As coordinator of fashion, Fraser’s duties were to inform designers of the criteria, encourage them to participate fully and ensure that they were ready for the shows at the grand art festival. “I would encourage designers to keep travelling; go to shows and experience fashion,” she said. “You don’t have to display your pieces but just go and get the experience of what an international show is like – a whole world by itself,” she expressed. She also told The Scene that in the past, Guyana was highly criticised for poorly fitting clothing, unfinished work and cheap material. But at this point, she believes “we have grown, we learnt and because of our international experience we have moved to another level in fashion and our presentations.” Carol believes that over the years, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has provided several platforms for designers to unleash their creative thoughts, which is an opportunity for young designers to showcase Guyana through their fashion. Asked to comment on the overall delegation at Carifesta, she said: “The people who represented Guyana, went with one aim – to represent Guyana, to showcase their country and make Guyana proud. At no time at all can I say they did not do that. They went there and they delivered; they worked beyond call; they cooperated. There was such unity and although many things were not the best at Carifesta, Guyanese made the best of out everything.” Carol believes that the Carifesta XI experience presented a real opportunity for growth. “I really wish if every young person can get a Carifesta experience,” she said “I think it will take them through life. I really appreciate what the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has done for the younger folks. I think we have made Guyana very proud.” Carol released a new line ‘Fresh’ at the Carifesta showcase, along with ‘Organic Orgasm’ which she had some time now. Her fashion lines took the catwalk by storm. Carol is a 2007 graduate of the Burrowes School of Art where she studied leather craft. She has recently completed a two-week foundation course in fashion designing and was accredited the best designer student for Level One.