Can you imagine a bride saying ‘I do’ to her groom in nothing more than a silvery-white bikini or bathing suit, matching headpiece and miniature floral-patterned trail?
Seems far-fetched? Well, its among Heather Jones’ latest bridal collection, titled Romance – a line designed specifically for the adventurous young woman.
A marked departure from what many expect from a bride on such an important day, Jones has definitely pushed the boundaries in the line, which marries Carnival art with the conventional bridal wear.
“I always dreamt about doing a wedding with bridesmaids and brides wearing costumes rather than the normal dresses for a resort wedding,” Jones said after the showing at Leve-Global’s Love Is In The Air last Sunday at Villa Being, Arnos Vale, an 11-acre property with a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea.
“So, my idea was to present brides for a beach or resort wedding, those that are over-the-top and different. That was my take on it – doing something that was very island and pretty.”
The veteran designer said the racy bikini line, accented by feathered bouquets, were designed by Karlene Ballah.
Saying resort weddings were on the rise, Jones predicted the line, an overwhelming favourite at the event, would be embraced.
“It’s already well-received, because the trend that I am seeing most brides are taking now is resort. Most of them want to do resort weddings, pool weddings. So, we threw it out on the market and let’s see what’s the response.”
Jones, one of several designers featured at Leve-Global, also showcased the honeymoon line of her Romance collection, which included colourful and flirty hand-painted pieces.
Urban men’s wear designer Marlon George, owner of DAWW Creations, also won the hearts of guests, particularly the ladies, with his line of trendy, slim-fit suits and accessories.
The Mt D’Or-born designer said the line was created with Leve’s theme of romance in mind, giving men stylish, contemporary alternatives to the conventional suits that have long defined wedding attire for grooms and groomsmen.
Other designers gracing the foyer of the deluxe Villa Being were young, Tobago-based designers Cassey Daniel, of Yesa Creations with her signature hand-painted textile designs, and Dayle Abeje Angus, who, despite his relatively short stint on the market, is already making a name for himself on the local, urban fashion scene.
The event also featured designs by Richard Young and Dominique La Roche. But Leve-Global was not all about fashion.
Displayed on walls of the villa at Tobago’s premier fashion and lifestyle exhibition were the works of gifted artists Kenwyn Crichlow, a former lecturer in the Department of Creative and Festival Arts at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies and Tomley Roberts, a teacher from rural Speyside.
Entertainment was provided by the Cartars, a family band comprising three siblings with a passion for rock music and other genres, as well as the Les Coteaux Folk Performers, one of Tobago’s leading cultural groups.
Of course, no island show would be complete without the traditional Moriah Wedding.
With its theme, Love Is In The Air, one deliberately chosen to project Tobago as the romance capital of the region, Leve-Global again drew on the island’s creative capital in the areas of fine art, fashion, cuisine, rum and rhythm to create a once in a lifetime experience for visitors.
Leve, now in its third year, attracted a virtual who’s who of society, including Tobago MPs Ayanna Webster-Roy and Shamfa Cudjoe; former independent senator Subhas Ramkhelawan, criminologist Renee Cummings and former Miss Universe Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow, who was asked to select the best dressed individuals at the event.
Among those chosen were attorney and vice-president of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce Martin George, who made the cut in a pair of mint-green, knee-length shorts, lilac jacket and patterned shirt. Also in winner’s row were guests Neave Mc Kenzie and Brittany Romeo.
Leve-Global’s first patron Dr Denyse Tsoi-a-Fatt Angus, presiding officer in the Tobago House of Assembly, told Sunday Newsday such events were very important to the country’s diversification thrust.
“Tobago has a very large creative sector,” she said.
“The people are creative with their hands and their voices, culturally, the dancing, the drumming and we have to play to our strengths. Yes, we consider tourism to be one of the greatest contributors.
“However, we have to appreciate what we bring the tourists for. It cannot just be sand and sea and I think exposing them to the culture – not culture in the limited form that we talk about – but the whole plethora of activities that come along with the cultural expressions.
“Once we expose them to that, I think you would be developing addicts who not just want to visit us once but to come again and again and again.”
Tsoi-a-Fatt Angus, a former THA secretary for Community Development and Culture, said she was very excited to be the patron.
“I truly believe in this expression of bringing the culture, the fashion, the food, music, everything together in one space, a beautiful villa overlooking the sea, bordered by the mountain on the other side.
“I don’t know what better combination you can ask for in showing what Tobago is about. Touring the rooms, one will also see that the furniture is also carved and created by local artisans.”
Leve-Global’s founder and managing director Dr Auliana Poon, confident in the island’s potential to be the preferred choice for couples, business travellers and holiday-makers, described the event as an “incredible movement.”
“We have really fantastic designers, entertainers, performers and creative artistes and I think its absolutely fantastic,” she said.
“We want to give patrons a taste of the Caribbean. We want to give patrons an understanding of what tourism can be.”
Poon argued that tourism was not just about rooms in a hotel or sun, sand and sea.
“It’s really about us and who we are. It’s about our culture. It’s about our talents and we need more and more to infuse the Caribbean with our tourism.
“And once we start doing that, I think we’ll have a better, fresher, newer type of tourism, one that is more inclusive that involves our local people, our local population, our culture.”
She added: “At the end of the day, that is what our travellers are looking for. They have been there and they have done that and they want to live like the lords.
“So, frankly, this is like really living like the local and showing the world that we have it all, that there is no better place for romance better than Tobago and of course, better than Villa Being, Tobago.”
Poon urged every Tobagonian to join the tourism drive.
“We all have to be behind tourism and wanting tourism for tourism to succeed. Let’s stop pointing fingers and put the eye on tourism.
“We need to compete with information, intelligence, innovation and inclusion. So, let’s be all involved in creating a different type of tourism product that will enrich all of us.”