From The Bahamas to Beijing
Fashion designer Theodore Elyett, brilliantly translated the magic and splendor of Junkanoo into a 10-piece avant garde collection themed “Junkanoo: Bahamian Opulence” which were showcased at a dual fashion showcase in Beijing, China to highlight the beauty of Asian and Bahamian culture through fashion.
Oversized fringe silhouettes reminiscent of the fringe style popular in Junkanoo costumes of the 1970s were juxtaposed with bursts of colorful textiles. Embellished with jewels and touches of opulent ostrich feathers, the Junkanoo-themed collection was punctuated with iconic Bahamian hits including “Funky Nassau” and “Goombay Medley” performed live by Bahamian entertainer Fred Munnings Jr.
Five Bahamian models — Ashley Hamilton, Erika Adderley and Shanae Strachan, all based in New Providence, who were joined by New York City-based model Kamela Forbes, and Grand Bahama-based model Tomii Culmer — strutted Elyett’s 10-piece wearable art collection down the runway in the Grand Ballroom of the Kerry Hotel.
Elyett was invited to participate in The Cultural Fashion Event organized by Chinese designer Ellen Barron, and the Embassy of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas in Beijing.
Barron was introduced to Ellyet’s work by Bahamian officials at the embassy in China.
“After viewing his portfolio I knew that our design esthetic would be a great match, so I invited him to be a guest designer in the fashion showcase,” said Barron.
“When I received the invitation from [Bahamas Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China Andy] Gomez and Ellen Barron to showcase in China, I knew immediately that I wanted to present a collection which highlighted our rich culture,” said Elyett. “During my research I fell in love with the esthetic of old Junkanoo and immediately got to work. I wanted to show that Junkanoo could also be wearable and beautiful when translated into garments,” he said.
“I created a collection of that highlighted some of the most exciting elements of our Junkanoo celebration — bold colors, stripes, a play of textures, fluid silhouettes, a lot of sparkle, shine and drama.”
During the show, Elyett’s collection was taken in by diplomats, business executives, fashion and film industry consultants and Bahamians studying in China; it was Elyett’s first showcase in Asia in his 20-year career.
Elyett’s collection inspired Éclat Beijing Hotel representatives to invite him to shoot the entire collection on their property.
“Theodore’s fashion showcase in Beijing was outstanding,” said Kaouther Ghariani, Éclat Beijing business development manager. “We loved the colors, the freshness and the glamorous looks. His design esthetic matches the style and sophistication that we aim for with our Éclat properties. We knew right away when we saw the collection that we wanted to organize a photo shoot and it turned out to be such a success.”
Makeup artist Nestaea Sealy accompanied the team.
The Cultural Fashion Event was one in a series of events hosted by The Bahamas Embassy in China to commemorate 20 years of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The event included a charitable element and raised more than $33,000 to benefit the New Day Foster Home in China that provides care and funding for medical operations for mentally and physically disabled Chinese youth.
“I am extremely thankful to Ellen and the embassy for the opportunity to showcase in China. I am also grateful to Equity Bank & Trust Bahamas Ltd., for funding the entire project. The event was such a success that both Ellen and I have agreed to work together again in the very near future,” said Elyett.
“The Embassy exists to create opportunities for all Bahamians and to provide them with opportunities for exposure,” said Gomez. “Theodore and his team represented The Bahamas at the highest level.”