While New York City has been trying to regain a sense of normalcy amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many of the city’s largest parades and festivals remain on pause as health and safety precautions.
This includes Labor Day weekend’s iconic J’ouvert and West Indian Day Parade held annually in Brooklyn, NY. However, notable entertainment mogul Philbert Giddings, has found a way to (safely) bring in Labor Day with Caribbean pride and flavor.
The Guyana Fashion Showcase made its New York debut last Sunday at the Marine Park Golf Course in Flatbush, just two years after its premiere debut in Georgetown, Guyana. While following COVID-19 protocols and regulations, Giddings, CEO and founder of GFS, successfully put on the show that was created to spotlight fashion talents emerging from his home country.
GFS certainly brought Guyanese culture to the Brooklyn venue in full force; catering authentic Guyanese and Caribbean cuisine, as well as serving musical performances from Guyana’s very own Christopher Nelson, and Shelly G.
The indoor/outdoor fashion extravaganza, themed “The Garden City”, flaunted a 60 foot runway adorned with manicured turf, and flower petals. The stage’s backdrop was draped with Wisteria vines of various spring colors, and definitely brought a tropical vibe to the venue.
Now let’s talk fashion!
GFS featured collections from prominent Guyanese, Caribbean, and international designers. Amongst those designers was Guyana native and New York based fashion expert, Michelle Cole Wagner.
Wagner’s world-renowned ColeFacts collection, sashayed down the runway with fun, elegance, leopard print, and pockets! While well known for her bridal attire and pageant gowns (in which she did not disappoint on the GFS runway), Wagner also showcased more casual looks from her repertoire. Her collection started with fun flowing maxi dresses accented with pockets (who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?), and crescendoed into exciting, leopard print hooded jumpsuits, and cocktail ensembles.
While Michelle Cole Wagner had undoubtedly set the tone for GFS with ColeFacts, iconic fashion designers Cesar Galindo and L’Atelier Raif also came ready to rip the runway.
CZAR by Cesar Galindo, gave classic prints, pleats, and patterns a time to shine with colorful stripes, polka dots, and floral designs. The simplicity of the collection was accented by Galindo’s signature sleekness and architectural influence; giving these classic patterns a bold, and modern feel. In lovely contrast, L’Atelier Raif’s self entitled collection offered darker, more earth toned and tie-dyed pieces. His collection paid homage to his birth home in Togo, West Africa, to his parents’ country, Nigeria, and to Paris where he apprenticed; and aided GFS' diversity beautifully.
Also amongst the designers were Guyana natives Mwanza Glenn with Wanza’s Designs, Randy Madray with Randy Madray the Brand, and Bahamas native David Rolle. These three designers captivated the audience with Afrocentric designs and influence, with posh and sexy evening wear, and with creative and innovative ensembles; closing the fashion portion of GFS on a spectacular high.
The Guyana Fashion Showcase ended with an after party, allowing guests, models, and designers to mix and mingle, and celebrate Labor Day the way Brooklyn knows best. As music, food, and Caribbean culture flowed through the room, the significance of the event became evidently clear.
It will be exciting to see how Giddings and his team will elevate the GFS experience for next year.
Written by: Tarice Spencer, @reesewrites_
Photos by: Chante Ramsey, @vysynphotos
Showcase Designers: ColeFacts, Cesar Galindo, Raif, Mwanza Glenn, David Rolle, & Randy Madray