Thursday, July 9, 2009

CFW 2009: POSHE by Camesha Powell

On the first night of Caribbean Fashion Week, something interesting happened (Well, something interesting other than the collection of LaMaica Fashions)- patrons, fashion-lovers and the media got to see the latest creations from Camesha Powell from her up-and-coming POSHE line.
Never mind that it was her third showing at CFW (I still wonder why she was a part of the line-up of the first night when most people weren't there), but what was most interesting about the collection was the collection itself. The concept was "Where Rock means Glamour", and in the most literal sense, that's exactly what we got. "I wanted a line that was sexy, sophisticated, feminine but still edgy and fun. I knew the looks I wanted right away and once I started sourcing fabrics they just came together", Powell says describing her line that was exactly that.
"I definitely wanted to showcase a collection that showed my growth as a designer and reflects my capabilities", and growth is exactly what we saw on the runway that Friday night.
There was plenty of leather, a shimmery gold motif, and layers of feminine ruffles all delivered with plenty of sass and flair.
A socialite at heart, I see her at every event, Powell's designs are a reflection of herself and the market she tries to reach is almost exactly like her- "My target market is more a reflection of my creative vision.....young, fresh, fun, feminine but I do think that being out in the public and recognized for my style, networking and knowing a broad scope on individuals definitely helps my clientele." I call it smart partying.
Seeing the models strut down the CFW runway in her designs, one couldn't help but engage themselves in a mental checklist, I certainly did- "... Rihanna would so wear that...", "... That is sooo Beyoncé..." Unapologetically, this is the very same group of people who Camesha draws her main influence from- " most recent collection got inspiration from artistes such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna. I like watching shows like Gossip Girl and The Hills. I draw inspiration from so many things, music, art, fabric, history. I am really a girl power advocate however, so I admire women who are independent, strong, determined....I always use a combination of female artistes and songs that reflect those characteristic as music for my collection. This year I used [the music of] Beyonce’s “Diva”, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Britney’s “Circus” because of the strong edgy elements to the songs....previous years I used songs like Fergie’s “Glamourous” and “Labels or Love”, both reflecting that year’s collection." From as far back as Debbie Harry, pop artistes have always used fashion as a medium of expression and a reflection of the music they produce. GaGa is proving her mettle, (have you SEEN the "Paparazzi" video?) while Rihanna has long been embraced by the arms of Marc Jacobs, Philip Lim and Derek Lam while Beyonce’s been on the cover of Vogue and has her own clothing line, so one senses that Camesha could have fared far worse in terms of her fashion influences. She remains grounded, however, as she cites her mother as the biggest influence on her style- "...she has such style... I raid her closets, jewellry... I really did get the fashion genes from her." She praises Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy too, "not only because of their impeccable style but also because of how dynamic and strong they were but still feminine and sophisticated."
Dynamic, strong, feminine, sophisticated- all words that could have easily been used to describe Powell's latest collection. There was a jacket and pencil skirt number, replete with her signature single, off-the-centre vertical block trimmed with lace. The jacket had an interesting inverted black and white pattern, evident at the rolled cuff and flash of the inside lapel.
A nautical-esque pant-suit that stopped mid-calf, decked with gold buttons and trimmings and a jaw-dropping back-less cut proved the designer's new daring and knack for grabbing attention, but the ultimate show-stopper was the piece worn by Jaunel- a form-fitting leather dress with a thigh-high split laced with a silver chain. The top was sheer lace with nothing worn underneath. Me-ow.
Quick to correct my ignorance, Camesha has become a regular fixture on the CFW scene. So what does this mean, exactly? Well, for one, her pieces were made available by Lee's Fifth Avenue, a major department conglomerate in the country- "I was actually approached at CFW, they had expressed interest last year but this year chose a few designers to promote. I think it really is a reflection of where fashion is going in Jamaica and the growth of the local interest. It is important to recognize that we need to make more effort to 'Buy Jamaican'. Being chosen indicates that the POSHE brand is considered marketable, saleable and potentially lucrative to a department store of this stature, it definitely reflects positively on where the brand has reached in such a short time and where it can go in years to come." And where is this? Well, for starters, Powell still wants to keep the POSHE line one-of-a-kind (don't we all just hate mass production?), and wants it available in all major fashion boutiques and capitals, as well as her own POSHE boutique. She wants to focus on inclusion in more international shows, as well as more lucrative retail contracts, and a website.
Camesha admits to the main challenge a designer can face in the local market- funding. But while that pesky little issue stayed her hand business-wise, creatively, she was afire whipping up the entire collection in a mere three weeks.
From the fabric treatment, to the cuts to the very styling of the looks, the collection oozed a sobriety and maturity that I was almost proud of seeing from Powell. Yes, we're friends, but my pride had nothing to do with that, but more came from a place of seeing a young and impressionable designer do really well.

Images from SociaLingua used by permission

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