Friday, Jan 17, 2020
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Theodore Elyett, designer to the stars

Celebrities Will Smith, Porsha Williams, Maxwell and Michelle Williams have one thing in common – in the last six months, they have all worked with fashion designer Theodore Elyett, catapulting the Mission Catwalk Season 3 and Bahamian Icon winner from Caribbean sensation to an international designer to the stars.

Most recently, Michelle Williams dazzled in Elyett’s “Queen of Junkanoo” kimono robe, igniting a social media frenzy with popular blogs Fashion Bomb Daily and The Root posting Williams in the design, and Essence Magazine forecasting it as “a look” for summer ‘19. The look, styled by J. Bolin and captured by photographer Marcus Owens, garnered more than 56,000 Instagram likes in just three days.

On her Instagram post of the image, Williams wrote, “I doubt ‘turn to them the other cheek’ meant it like this! I’ll keep turning if I can wear this Theodore Elyett design everyday!! Stylist J. Bolin this was a fun one, I felt that I was back in the old glamor days! Let’s bring ‘em back!!”

Elyett was sought out by Williams’ stylist, J. Bolin, to provide looks for the multi award-winning recording artist’s appearance at the Wearable Art Gala. The gala, launched by Beyonce’s mother, Tina Lawson, aims to promote, support and raise funds for youth art programs. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood attend the event, including Jay Z, Samuel L. Jackson, Tyler Perry and Beyoncé.

With just 48 hours to spare, Elyett began working on a bespoke piece inspired by the Lion King, to celebrate the event’s theme: “A Journey to the Pridelands”. However, it was a second option that Elyett included for Williams – a multicolor jewel-toned Queen of Junkanoo kimono with exaggerated train – that caught Williams and her stylist J. Bolin’s eye.

J. Bolin and Elyett met in person this June, fostering a relationship that could lead to future collaborations. The stylist, based in Dallas, Texas, works with a number of celebrity clients including Tyra Banks and Tamia.

“Sharing my designs with the world has always been a dream of mine,” said Elyett. “The mind-blowing opportunity to work with some of the amazing, talented entertainers I have connected with in recent months is confirmation that with hard work and persistence this dream I have had since I was 13-years-old will continue to manifest more and more every day.”

Infusing elements of Caribbean culture is central to the Bahamian’s design aesthetic. The colorful fabric and feathered trim used in the Queen of Junkanoo kimono design pay homage to The Bahamas’ iconic street festival, Junkanoo, which features colorful costumes made of cardboard, crepe paper and feathers.

While his star is quickly rising on the global circuit, Elyett is no overnight success. His fashion portfolio dates back to 1998 when he emerged as a 13-year-old award-winning designer, creating works of art showcased by contestants in the Miss Bahamas National Costume competition. Fast forward two decades later, and Elyett is still turning heads and making waves in the industry.

A little over a year ago, Elyett showcased his designs at Buckingham Palace, with supermodel Naomi Campbell and British Vogue Editor-In-Chief Edward Enninful attending the soiree. Just months later in 2018, he was awarded the prestigious Bahamian Icon Award for Fine Arts.

With dozens of awards under his belt and hundreds of gowns created over the years, Elyett admits that he feels like he’s just getting started.

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