Sun, Sea & Style (Autumn 1992)

Barbados's designers are coming up with some exciting fashionwear. A special photo feature by Steve Cohn

  • Tiger Tiger: from Carol Cadogan's series Endangered Species '92, this ensemble portrays tribal faces and artefacts on a hand-painted and hand-dyed collage of silk and rayon, featuring applique and hand-beading. With matching hand-crafted purse and headgear. Cotton Days Designs, Bridge House, Waterfront, Bridgetown (US$l,OOO). Photograph by Steven B. Cohn
  • Line Up: A pleated cotton voile shirt over double length palazzo trousers with hand applique and faggoting on the hemlines. Fabric by the yard. Wents & Friends, Retreat, Hastings (shirt about Bds$280, trousers about $250; sea fan and earrings by Gayle Hermick)
  • Island Flowers:a fitted cocktail dress in hand-painted chiffon, featuring a floral abstract by Derek Went. Softened by a pleated drape, with contrasting hand-coloured chiffon blouse. Fabric and accessories but the Wents. Wents & Friends, Retreat, Hastings (dress about Bds $350, blouse about $280)
  • With its bold blue and yellow splashed with rust, this loose-fitting dress by Nyzinga Onifa is pleated at shoulders and sleeves for a batwing effect. The matching head-tie gives a strong African feel. Nyzinga Studio, 5 Swan Street, Bridgetown (Bds$300)
  • Africa and Egypt: African printed skirt by Nyzinga Onifa (right) in brown, black, rust and gold, with blouse pleated at the waistline, matching stole, and an echo of Egypt in the matching hat. Nyzinga Studio, 5 Swan Street, Bridgetown (Bds $ 290)
  • Hot House Blooms: Island inspiration in a fitted brushed cotton dress with empire line halter neck drama. By Anna Went, hand- painted by Derek Went. Wents & Friends, Retreat, Hastings (about Bds$400; hand-painted scarf about Bds $90)
  • Zebra on the Prairie (left), a hand-painted and collaged ensemble by Carol Cadogan. Giant African hoopie birds swoop gracefully over hand-painted zebra images. Intricate beading and colourful feathers conjure up American Indian influences. Handcrafted headgear to match. Nesting Birds (right) is a lavishly adorned kimono jacket ensemble, also by Carol Cadogan. Handpainted bird wings, nests and branches provide a backdrop for the tropical birds. The fabric is scrunched natural linen, with finishing touches of batik and zebra-painted silk. With matching headgear and handbag.  Cotton Days Designs, Bridge House, Waterfront, Bridgetown (each US$l,OOO)
  • Bordeaux: a classic black velvet bolero by Derek and Anna Went, encrusted with glass beads, silk threads and sequins. Wents & Friends, Retreat, Hastings (about Bds$ 900). Photograph by Steven Cohn
  • Cotton pareo skirt and scarf top, with ragged scarf on the head; the scarf can also be worn as a skirt. By Simon Foster. Simon, Paynes Bay, St James (US$175). Photograph by Steven B. Cohen
  • Yellow and black hand-painted shorts and top by Simon Foster. Simon, Paynes Bay,  St James (US$175)

Nyzinga Onifa, Simon Foster, and Derek and Anna Went

Generations of visitors have enjoyed Barbados’s sun and sea, but the island’s designers are not so well known-yet. Barbadian designers use a range of techniques-hand-painting, dying and applique, layering, batik and beadwork-to produce highly distinctive fabrics and garments.

Featured here are four leading creators of formal and casual wear. Nyzinga Onifa favours an Afro-Caribbean look, while Simon Foster creates a striking “ragged” effect. Carol Cadogan‘s garments are almost architectural, murallike; while the Wents (Derek paints the fabric yards at a time, Anna designs the clothes) use unique stitch treatments and beadwork to create seductive Caribbean fashions.

These exclusive creations were specially photographed for BWee CARIBBEAN BEAT at the Ocean View Hotel on the south coast, Barbados’s oldest operating hotel.

Photography by Steven Cohn