By Hadassah Hall
Nassau, Bahamas — Ashley Smith is experiencing an adrenaline rush as time draws nigh for the Miss Bahamas Organization’s (MBO) Top Model competition, of which she will be vying for the Top Designer award.
This student of style will be among 15 fashion design students and alum of The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institution (BTVI), who have been designing and creating avante garde pieces for contestants to model during the show dubbed, ‘Fashion in the Sky.’ The competition will be held on August 16th in the Sky Bahamas hanger.
This year’s theme for the Miss Bahamas pageants (Miss World Bahamas, Miss Universe Bahamas and Miss Earth Bahamas) is ‘Beauty by Nature.’ Each contestant will be paired with a current or former BTVI student during one of the fashion show scenes. While there will be judges to find the top model among contestants, there will also be judges to find the top designs on the runway. A Top Designer winner, along with first and second runners-up will be chosen.
Ashley said she is nearing completion of the gown that has kept her awake during the wee hours of the morning.
“I love the theme, ‘Beauty by Nature,’ and the excitement it brings. I’m trying to maximize my creativity when it comes to the gown. My inspiration is peacocks. When people see this dress, I want them to see glitz and glamour,” revealed Ashley.
“It’s my first fashion show and I believe it will be good experience and exposure. It makes me feel I can do this,” said the young woman who has dreamed of being a fashion designer since the age of 13.
Meanwhile, a 2006 Fashion Design graduate, Trineil Hanna, is working assiduously on his garment that he hopes wows the judges.
“My garment will be all things Bahamian with a twist. It is inspired by nature itself. You will see branches, birds, butterflies, flowers, straw, beads etc.,” said the excited 23-year-old.
The winner and runners-up of the Top Designer competition will each design three to four signature pieces and be paired with Miss World Bahamas, Miss Universe Bahamas or her first runner-up, Miss Earth Bahamas. Each queen will reserve one of the pieces for an international competition.
Closely eyeing the up-and-coming designers is BTVI senior craft instructor, Kathy Hamilton-Pinder. “I’m watching and doing quality control. My goal is to help students produce superior work,” she said, adding that, “Fashion is the best kept secret at BTVI. We have an excellent team of instructors.”
Meanwhile, the opportunity has been afforded to BTVI students by the Miss Bahamas Organization, but is becoming a reality, thanks to the generosity of Commonwealth Fabrics, which is partially sponsoring each student.
Accountant at the fabric store, Lennox McCartney, noted that Commonwealth Fabrics has long been a supportor of BTVI, but the Top Designer contest of the Top Model competition takes it to another level.
“We want to encourage BTVI students in their endeavours, in their training and careers. Furthermore, this is in sync with our business, as community involvement is important,” said Mr. McCartney.
“We enjoy seeing BTVI students come to the store. The passion they display when coming in, it is a joy. We enjoy their spirit and enthusiasm. What they do with their talent is pay back,” he stated.
Additionally, Director of MBO’s Special Events, Zhivon Young, noted that businesses like Commonwealth Fabrics set the pace for others because without their sponsorship, such opportunities may not come to life.
“Under normal circumstances, our students may not be able to do this out of pocket. As for the contestants, it’s one less outfit they have to come up with. Meanwhile, the competition itself showcases what can be obtained and created locally,” said Mr. Young.
“It’s about getting these students on the map and we are grateful that Commonwealth Fabrics sees the vision,” he added.