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3 Frantz Coulanges SIMPLICITY " Simplicity is best", says Frantz Coulanges, a native of Haiti and pastel artist who got his start as a fashion designer in 1995 when he created his wife's wedding gown. The couple moved to St Thomas from Massachusetts seven years ago. " For example, I designed a dress aptly named ' X'. It's a very simple white dress with a black crossover in the front intersecting at the buckle. It's very light evening wear, ideal for a formal event." Temperature is a factor taken into consideration by Caribbean designers. " You may look great in a suit but if you are sweating like you are stuck in a sauna, you lose all the ' Wow' factor," says Coulanges. " My male suits are simply made, without the felt, because these tend to bubble up after only a few months of wear and tear in our climate. Linen and light fabrics are used like gold by a Caribbean designer." This year, Coulanges' Simply Originals collection focuses on casual wear for men and formal wear for women. " The tops and pants for men may be worn together or separately," he says. " For women, I use silky whites with mostly off- white, grey and black accents. The goal is to capture every natural curve and accentuate them in a fl attering light." ALL IMAGES: PARADISE PICTURES LL January - March 2009 lime 59

60 lime January - March 2009 FASHION 5 Sonia Noel TIMELESS Guyana- born Sonia Noel, who now lives in Barbados, is one of the Caribbean's best- known designers. Her fashions – marketed under the label Mariska's Designs, and consisting mostly of casualwear such as swimsuits, cocktail dresses and formal attire – have been featured on catwalks in St Maarten, St Lucia, St Vincent, Jamaica, St Kitts and St Thomas, to name but a few. " Last year, my collection featured black and white. It's timeless. This year, it's animal prints. Tiger and leopard, in dresses, shoes and bags," says Noel, who owns and operates two boutiques, Mariska's and Mariska's on the West, in Barbados. Like many other designers in the region, Noel's surroundings serve as her inspiration. " Flora, fauna, the eco- tourism theme, this is what inspired this year's collection, which led to the design ideas that came to my mind as I took various fabrics in hand," she adds. 4 Teasea Bennet ONE OF A KIND JEWELLERY Colours. Chunky. Organic. These are the adjectives Jamaican jewellery designer Teasea Bennett uses to describe what's in fashion in Caribbean accessories. " Nature now sets the pace as designers opt to use natural raw materials, due to the negative shifts in economies and high costs of precious metals such as gold and silver," says Bennett, who started the Reve jewellery brand in partnership with her brother, Duane, in 2006. Bennett says: " Bold colours and chunky dramatic pieces are recognised worldwide and are quite a trend. International designers take their inspiration from the Caribbean cultures. For example, Christian Dior used the Jamaican rasta colours ( red, green and gold) in previous fashion collections." Unlike international counterparts who manufacture and mass produce designs, she adds: " Necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings and brooch designs, to name a few, that use material sourced from the islands and wider Caribbean and that are all handmade and unique, are what we are all about. Our spring collection is bright, bold and beautiful." LL DEAN BARNES ( 4)