This cherry blossom silk dress by Anthony Dean Williams will be shown at the coming event. *Photos supplied
This cherry blossom silk dress by Anthony Dean Williams will be shown at the coming event. *Photos supplied

 “This is the only show I know of in Bermuda featuring all local designers and I am very much stoked about that idea.”

This is the opinion of Bermudian designer Anthony Dean Williams who is to take part in the Bermuda Fashion Collective Show coming up next week. Seven local fashion designers will showcase their work in what they believe to be the island’s first event dedicated to local designers.

The show, which features everyone from established designers such as Mr. Williams and Amethyst to new comers such as Shay Ford and Ashley Aitken, was the brainchild of Charles Anderson, co-president at the Bermuda Society of Arts. Back in the spring, he had been talking to designer Talibah in Rock Island Café who said she thought there were limited platforms for local designers in Bermuda. The penny dropped for Mr. Anderson who, along with the BSoA board, had been keen to expand the genres of art that the gallery showcases.

“We wanted to expand our art space in the gallery and get away from what people normally perceive the BSoA to be — we are trying to envelop all the arts,” said Mr Anderson who has been on BSoA’s board for about seven years and its exhibition committee for four.

“Normally you see paintings at BSoA with some sculptures every now and again. To my knowledge the BSoA has not done this before. We enjoy helping the community in an art related way. We have always been searching to expand. As far as we can tell at BSoA the designers are not getting a platform in Bermuda.

“Anybody can come out and enjoy this event. It is a uniquely Bermudan experience — they are all Bermudian designers and all Bermudian models. There are a variety of designers from complete novices never shown before to seasoned professionals.”

The show will feature an eclectic range of styles from flowy beach wear and Indian silks to elegant evening wear and modern vintage.

The full line up includes designs from Amethyst, Ashley Aitken, Dana Cooper, Dean Williams, Shay Ford, Talibah and Torri Simons. On the evening after the fashion show on November 4, some of the pieces will be on display as part of an art exhibition and feature some of their inspirational drawings. The exhibition opens at 5:30pm and runs for three weeks at the BSoA. All the works are on sale.

The Bermuda Sun caught up with a couple of the designers to feature in the show. Anthony Dean Williams is an established designer who has staged endless shows over a 28 year period and Ashley Aitken has staged just one show but is looking to pursue design as a profession.

• Anthony Dean Williams has an Associates Degree in Fashion Design and many years of experience in the profession. He owns his own custom made design company Definitions by Deane.

Where are you in the fashion world?

“I am pretty well seasoned at this. My first official show when I was 18 — I am now 46. One of the highlights was when I worked in New York City, I was freelancing at a company called Albert Sakhai but there have been so many.

Describe your current collection?

“My concentration is women’s wear predominately. My style of dress is for a woman who is confident and ­simplistic and doesn’t want a whole lot of bells and whistles. She is not high maintenance — she is elegantly simple and simply elegant.

“She revels in natural fabrics as opposed to synthetics.

“The concept that is evolving is the concept of nighttime dressing with day time cover ups — there will be capes and jackets that are rough and rugged compared to the silk and  satin. I’m dealing with Earth tones, greens and oranges and cherry blossoms on China Satin.

Who are your influences?

Initially Ives St. Lauren was an inspiration for me — he was a maverick. As a teenager one of the images that stayed in my mind, broad shoulders and pant suits and long elegant dresses.

What do you think of this show?

To the best of my knowledge this the first time a producer has created an opportunity for local designers only. There have been lots of opportunities to do shows but this is the only time featuring all local designers with no foreign designers or retailers. I am very much stoked about that idea – I think it speaks very well of the Society.

There is enough of a niche out there for this to be an annual event. I have seen places online like Massouri, Philadelphia and Chicago and the Caribbean that have their own Fashion Weeks – I think Bermuda has the potential as well. I think what Bermuda lacks is the incentive to make it happen.

• Ashley Aitken first showed her work last year at the Duchess and Dukes of the Runway organized by AB Dolce Productions.

Where are you in the fashion world?

I have been designing about three years. I’ve always been really interested in fashion — I did a fashion course in Italy and it got me more interested. I’ve always known I wanted to do something creative. It is definitely something I want to pursue professionally – I want to go back to school and I am applying everywhere right now.

Describe your current collection?

The whole collection is designed from fabrics I got from when I was travelling in India and Thailand. I got a bunch of embroidered silk saris. Everything is cut or draped from what I found. It’s soft and feminine but with an edge. They are casual pieces that have been made into something that can be worn to a more fancy event.

Who are your influences?

There are so many, I like I like Alberto Serrepi, Betsy Johnson.

What do you think of this show?

 There‘s nothing like this in Bermuda. I barely know who designs here I didn’t realize there were so many people.

I think there’s a potential to be a huge fashion industry in Bermuda.