Garfene Grandison, Gleaner Writer
On Saturday night The Wyndham Hotel ballroom was packed to capacity as patrons, friends and family members came out in droves to see who would emerge the winners of Pulse's highly anticipated Caribbean Model Search competition.
Over 100 hopefuls, male and female competed for the three top spots: Male Face of Jamaica, Petite Jamaica Fashion Model, Fashion Model and Full-figured Fashion Model. Kenny Wilson, Jheanell Nesbeth, Sashauna Robinson and Shantel Minott emerged winners in the respective categories. However, what should have been a brief display of Jamaica's runway talents dragged into a seemingly unending display of local designers and even an amateur concert by competitors.
The contestants started out in a swimsuit parade, showcasing their ability to strut, stage presence and physiques. It was clear which contestants were crowd favourites and the judges had their work cut out. As the night wore on, patrons were treated to a guest appearance on the catwalk by Jamaica's sub-10 king and obvious heart-throb, Asafa Powell.
Sassy DJ Tifa also energised the crowd with her current hits while comedians Ity and Fancy Cat gave all in attendance good laughs. This was a welcome change to the saturation of designers on the runway. Although Pulse can be commended for pushing local designers on the runway and stage, it would be even more entertaining and less frustrating if the number of pieces shown by each designer was kept to a minimum. Despite the length of the collections, most of the designers kept along the same colour palate, using whites, blacks, or a combination of both with some infusion of other colours such as blues and reds. The jersey fabric was another similarity that many of the designers used for both long and short dresses, which gave a whimsical touch to the Caribbean flair they created.
There was an overrepresentation of women in the fashion showcase. Apart from one other local designer, the males modelled fashion courtesy of Grandeur. This didn't sit very well with a number of patrons in the VIP who could be heard whispering their frustrations at seeing clothes made from another region instead of our local male designers. One female patron openly remarked, "Why am I paying my money to view clothes from a store that I can access any time? I want to see our local designers."
Getting it right
The event has, over the years, developed into a highly anticipated and well-attended one. The scheduling could be tighter, especially of the catwalk parades. Also, the winners' shortlist could be narrowed down. After all, it's not a beauty pageant. Patrons were made to suffer through long waits in between catwalks and contestants being narrowed down from 40 to top 22 and then top 8 and a further top 3 - a little insensitive after three hours of watching and waiting.
In spite of all that, the judges seemed to have gotten it right as they selected the top candidates who gave a stellar showcase on the catwalk. Best of luck to the four winners as Jamaica remains an indomitable force on the international modelling scene.