Sunday, 13 May 2012

TALK TO HER: Raxann Chin on Alexander McQueen, CFW, and the power of positive dressing

REST ASSURED: "Jamaica has been doing well in fashion. We’ve come a long way," observes Chin. (Photo: Contributed).

Raxann Chin plans to make an electric debut at Caribbean Fashion Week, so it is totally understandable that the New York-based Jamaican designer would sort of test the waters beforehand by granting insiders a sneak peek at her Femhéka collection before she sends the pieces down the runway next month.

After last weekend’s intimate, invitation-only viewing at New Kingston’s Courtleigh Hotel, the verdict on Chin’s appetizer was unanimous: ultrafemme, wearable and exquisitely crafted. Not to mention, fit for a Caribbean goddess, which is precisely the motif Chin had in mind when she set out to put together a body of work.

In keeping with the designer’s vision, Femhéka is a line that explores the striking parallels between fashion and regal womanhood. As such, the Femhéka woman is all about channelling her inner queen – and where in the world do more royal women reside than in the Caribbean?

TALLAWAH: Talk to me about finding inspiration for your work.
Chin: My inspiration really comes from within, from a very spiritual place. It comes from a place of quiet, of meditation, of Zen. And what I mean by that is it’s about reaching from the inside as opposed to the out. So when you have that concept it really brings you to a very spiritual place, and you think of clothes no longer as items, but you think of them as a way to have a voice.

Who rank among the designers (and labels) that you truly admire?
Oh, wow. I know this is going to sound quite clichéd, and God rest his soul, but Alexander McQueen, to me, is one of the epitomy of what a fashion designer represents. And just like McQueen I believe that your clothes represent who you are and how you portray that. Because there are many fashion designers out there today, so how do you really separate yourself? And my differentiating factor, I believe, is the message behind Femhéka, and ultimately I would be honoured if women liked my clothes.

Let’s play Closet Case. What are some of the favourite pieces in your own wardrobe?
Oh, my gosh. I realized that a lot of my favourite pieces happen to be very vintage pieces or knockoff pieces. Items that you would never believe, and you just take them and make them your own, and there’s something about that. I’m in the fashion business right now, but ultimately for some reason I’ve never been one to follow a brand. So I wanted to make sure that when I did my fashion line I stayed true to that because that’s something that always resonated with me.

Is Femhéka exclusively an evening-wear line, because that’s the vibe I picked up during tonight’s showcase?
Thank you for asking. No, there’s also going to be some swimwear, two bridal pieces, and everything will have a very ethereal feel about it. Nothing is wrong with having a structured piece here and there, but the word feminine has to speak through the clothes, and that’s one of the things that I want to make sure comes out in all my pieces – whether it’s swimwear or accessories, which is something later to come.

What are you most looking forward to at CFW 2012?
What I am most looking forward to is our 50th year celebrations. This is a very big year for Jamaica, and it’s also a great year to celebrate the fact that Jamaica has been doing very well in fashion over the years. We’ve come a long way, and I give Pulse a lot of credit for their productions over the years, and they’ve certainly been growing and meeting expectations. I am confident that Caribbean Fashion Week will have another great production, and I am truly, truly honoured to be able to represent my line this year.

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