Fashion Week is often a strange time for me. I’m always the most excited about it even though I’ve only seen one (Milan F/W 2010) and it’s because Fashion is my love, my passion. However, to the average Bermudian, it is another week, nothing significant. I think this is what bothers me the most about the industry in Bermuda. I rarely hear about local buyers being present at the brands that they carry in store or being truly familiar with the brand and their ethics. How are you able to educate your salespeople if you aren’t willing to do the research? I think this may be a problem, but I went on this little topic because of the larger ramifications, not really these trickle down ones.
Currently in Bermuda, everybody is either a model, photographer, make up artist or designer (no, i’m not talking about the ones who have invested time, money, education and made sacrifices for their art) but nobody has any real interest in the business of Fashion. They all see the glamour and the celebrity, but rarely are they willing to invest the kind of patience that it takes to make it to the top for the average person within the industry. Very few, if any, have a Fashion trajectory like the one of Shiona Turini(@shionat), Bermuda’s only claim to the industry since Polly Hornburg. I would say that she is the exception to the rule for Bermudians. She is educated in her craft and has done very well for herself (If you need to know more, google her, as I already know the background. It should be important to others to appreciate her accomplishments as well, since the industry is so harsh and nearly impenetrable unless you know somebody, or happen to be at the right place in the right time). Especially, if you are passionate about Fashion. I’ve digressed but anyways, It has made me question a few things. I consider myself among the few who have really put in the time and effort to understand my craft as a Fashion Stylist. I crave the entire process of styling with my every breath, but I can not afford to be a Fashion Stylist in Bermuda. There is no industry here, and it really begs the question, “Why?”.
There should definitely be room for an educated stylist within the retail community in Bermuda, but there isn’t. I’m not talking about being a personal shopper or a wardrobe consultant. Fashion styling goes above and beyond those realms for me. It’s not even a diss, I value both of those roles, but I feel like a Fashion Stylist is inherently both, with something extra. Styling elevates everything, because it’s all about the visual stimulation that the subject matter provides. The emotions that it evokes combined with the subtle nuances of the past, present and future. It is a special mind that can flip through references and realities and create something wholly unseen, or recreate something that references an original, but does so from an entirely new perspective. A Stylist has to be more than a designer, more than a photographer, just more, because they create the foundation for everything to explode out of. It is all expression, but you are the maestro, the enabler of everybody else to bring their best to the table and create something beautiful and poignant. An image that sticks, whether in print or in real life. That is the goal. But there is no room for my goal here.
I think it is incredibly sad that I have to venture anywhere else to be successful on my terms in Fashion.I mean of course of love to travel and I will always plant roots somewhere different from time to time, but It’s stressful. I admire Polly Hornburg so much, but there hasn’t been someone who defines what Bermudian Fashion is since nor continuously and avidly promoting her fashion perspective. It’s horrible. I can’t even imagine what she thinks right now about Calypso Bermuda, let alone Fashion in Bermuda. I can’t even imagine that we haven’t had an exhibit just using her clothing as yet. She redefined so much for our culture and ultimately plunged Bermuda into an epic time in Fashion. Where is the continuance of this legacy? Where are the structure and resources that are needed to foster this level of creative interpretation? It baffles my brain that so few that have real talent in Bermuda are afforded the opportunities that they need to actually bring the Bermuda product back. We had some of the best seamstresses, but that is practically obsolete. You can barely find a sewing class, and it isn’t taught in all the schools anymore, but it used to be considered an important skill to know the construction and quality of garments on the island. I’m not even sure what happened, but we’ve forgotten the core of what makes us uniquely Bermudian when it comes to fashion. We were never trend followers, but innovators. Before, I could spot a Bermudian from a mile away. Now, I’m not even sure some of these Bermudians remember where they are from as they are so caught up with being in fashion, instead of cultivating a Style. I shrug my shoulders all the time but not in defeat. I think there is room for somebody who honours their cultural heritage the way that I do in the world, and I think it’s more of us out there who share a similar vision. We don’t want to have to go all over the world to be successful Fashion Stylist, Designers, Photographers, Make up Artists , Editors etc. We should be able to do that here because it’s possible. We should be employing people to ensure that two retail shops across the street from each other do not carry the same labels, to ensure variety on Reid and Front Street. We should be targeting smaller, more lucrative brands, as well the more established brands on Front Street. We need to invest in our Fashion Culture as it is a billion dollar industry, especially if we want to be the resort destination of the East Coast, and potentially the world. We need to start having things that appeal to all segments because of the taste and quality of what we are offering, is not there right now. Maybe, just maybe there is more to fashion that meets the eye, like a multi billion dollar industry that feeds other billion dollar enterprises.