Father of Fashion
As the curtains came down last Sunday on this year's staging of Caribbean Fashion Week (CFW), conceptualiser and fashion guru, Kingsley Cooper, was reflective. "In many respects, it (CFW) has exceeded expectations (in terms of) structure, acceptance locally and internationally, marketing, global media, Caribbean and international designer participation, designer development, (providing) an international platform for Caribbean designers and models," he said.
Still, Cooper sees room for growth. "We have not yet achieved our full expectations in regards to designer business generation. Although great strides have been made in that regard, and now we are closer to that target. However, on account of CFW, various lines of fashion business have been developed, whether it's through the plethora of fashion events that CFW has spawned, or the generally stronger appreciation and desire for Jamaican and Caribbean clothing."
What brings Cooper the most pride?"The fact that it has transformed how the Caribbean sees and consumes regional fashion. The event has brought into focus a need for there to be stronger focus on the regional fashion, as well as the quality of the entertainment we have added over the years, thus making CFW not only a great platform for Caribbean fashion, but exciting and entertaining in other ways. This makes the event unique among fashion weeks in the world and adds diversity and value." This year, CFW stepped beyond the runway to become a 10-day lifestyle event that included spas and restaurants.
Cooper said that staging CFW year after year has taught him a lot about himself, including that: "I am tenacious and I am able to maintain an unshakable self belief, regardless of the challenges I face. That I can ignore naysayers, mischief-makers and persons of ill will. That I am able to embrace partners who share my vision or who just simply support and believe, and not be perturbed by those who don't, and that I have an obligation to persevere and succeed, no matter what."
Other stand-out moments for Cooper include: "Being described by British Vogue in the early years, as representing an important new trend in world fashion, having a whole cadre, as many as eight of the hottest models in the world walking the CFW runway, was another. I would also have to add being beamed around the globe on Fashion TV Paris, and designers who first showed on a fashion week at CFW, featured in Vogue (Gavin Douglas), or on Project Runway (Hope Wade and Anya Ayoung-Chee), or similar, is truly exciting."
In addition to CFW celebrating 15 years, Pulse, the mother company turns 35 this year, and Cooper admits that he never envisioned it would be what it is today. "I had envisioned development, growth, and success, but just what form that would take, or the extent of it, was uncertain. One never knows how things will work out exactly. Often, the reality is different from the picture in your mind. We plan, push and just keep going forward and we treasure success when it comes. However, the vision will continue to live for a long time. It's not over. Plus there are generations to follow."