Shasha Designs participated in the first ever Commonwealth Fashion Exchange programme, which saw designers and artisans from 52 commonwealth countries producing a fashion ‘look’ using principles of sustainable excellence. The design was unveiled at a special reception at Buckingham Palace for London Fashion Week on February 19, 2018. The design then moves to a public exhibition at Australia House, and other locations in London where the exhibition will be open to the public, then it moves to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018. Later in the year, the design will be showcased at The UN House in New York for the UN General Assembly Meeting. The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, managed by Eco-Age, and supported by The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council encouraged the creation of a custom-made gown for the exhibition, using Principles of Sustainable Excellence, relating to the environment and social justice.
Shasha Designs was matched with Launesha Barnes Antigua and Barbuda, and we ‘exchanged’ information about traditional heritage, skills, craftsmanship and culture in order to create the custom-made gown which represents fashion from the Commonwealth.
About the Look:
This look is inspired by Antigua and Barbuda’s National Costume and the Indigenous peoples of Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda, fusing elements of the Arawak tradition with Antigua’s National wear. The neck of the dress is made with Burlap and is covered with seeds from the shac shac (flamboyant) tree. It is in the shape of a stick figure which represents one of the creatures that the Arawak shaman transforms into. The bodice is made with hand dyed Madrass, which is Antigua and Barbuda’s national fabric for their National costume. The centre of the bodice is made with palm leaves and fibres woven into a plain weave. Shac Shac seeds, jumbie seeds and buck beads create a triangular form the front bodice of the design. The architecture of the Arawak Ajoupa (home) specifically the roof, inspired the full skirt of the dress, which is made with brown cotton and dyed burlap. The centre of the skirt is tie-dyed using onion skin and beetroot. Buck beads were sewn on the red panels of the skirt. Tibiseri straw (a fibre extracted from a Mauritia flexuosa found in Guyana) was woven with the palm leaves from Antigua (date palm) to create the plain weave used along the bodice of the dress as well as the front panel of the skirt.
We had so much fun chatting with Selwyn on the Shasha Designs aesthetic, and on the future of fashion in Guyana and the Caribbean. We raised the importance, and need for designers to actively seek out opportunities for development and how fashion can be a tool for social change. This, we believe is critical to the development of the fashion industry, as part of the Creative Industries. See links below for the full interview!