July 3, 2010
Two of Belize’s internationally recognized fashion designers represented the country in the 10th Annual Caribbean Fashion Week. The event is organized and produced by Pulse Investments Ltd., a novel entertainment company with over 30 years in the business of fashion, music and entertainment. Top designers from across the Caribbean, Belize no exception, showcased the latest trends and creative styles, vying for the attention of buyers alongside internationally recognized designers from across the globe. For these fashion-lovers, Kingston, Jamaica was their playground as these acclaimed designers flaunted their lines from June 15th – 21st 2010.
Victor Caliz of Jahtaxtreme and Tara Lee Tillett of Tara Lee Belize Inc. travelled across the Atlantic to where world famous supermodels graced the catwalks by day and by night, flocked glamorous after-parties.
Tara Lee, born in Belize, but now resident in Florida takes pride in her designs that incorporate crystals, gems, and beading. With such intricacy, Tara Lee believes this adds a unique, fresh image to the Tara Lee Belize clothing line. Growing up, Tara recollects running around in her uncle’s room and watching him sew while he attended design school. Tara Lee remembers her uncle’s mannequin as he drew and designed, a hobby she picked up and carried through school. Her first creation was her high-school prom-dress. From then on, Tara Lee was fixed on a career as a fashion designer.
Caliz who still lives and works from Dangriga on the ten year old brand, takes Jahtaextreme in the direction of denim, cotton and jersey, and incorporates Afro-centric fabric. It would seem that Caliz learnt to love sewing from family traits as well as from having grown up with a tailor as a father.
Caribbean Fashion Week isn’t the first time Jahtaxtreme has made it on the international scene; Leilah Pandy sported the brand at Miss Universe 2004 in Quito Ecuador. A more recent but local venture was Rock the Runway, a “Toys for Tots” fashion show produced by Continental Airlines held at Biltmore Hotel in Belize City, in early December 2009. The event brought in big names such as Mr. Fonzworth Bentley from VH1 reality show, “G’s to Gents”. Bentley hosted while another big shot, Bianca Golden from America’s Next Top Model sashayed down the catwalk. Belizeans are encouraged to be on the look-out for everyday fashions and clothing design classes by Jahtaxtreme, an initiative that Caliz says he has been open to for some years now but has not seen the involvement of community as he would like.
Back to Caribbean Fashion Week, clothes weren’t the only fun for designers, designer hopefuls, models, past models and those fashionably inclined. In addition to turn tables, nights were filled with performances. Rhythm and Blues singer Johnny Gill took the stage the Saturday night, setting a sultry mood to complement sexy fashion. Sunday night saw Morgan Heritage’s Una Morgan make her first appearance as a solo artist, performing tracks from her upcoming reggae-soul album. To the end of the extravaganza, Gramps joined his sister Una and led the audience in a sing-along with some of the group’s hits.
Both Tara Lee and Caliz say the experience was a memorable one, giving them the ability to interact with designers and industry insiders such as buyers, raw material producers, manufactures etc. The exposure is by no means unwelcome, with media representation from various international presses. CFW coverage spans across the Caribbean Sea to Europe with Vogue UK and Fashion TV Paris. CFW also reaches the shores of Africa with Oh Yes Magazine. Both designers hope the vast coverage boosts their portfolios and helps establish a name in the industry saying “Mark me down for next year!”
Written by Kimberly Timmons