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Colourful Caribbean fashion hits Games


What they going to experience is the top designers out of the Caribbean. They’re hidden gems in the Caribbean."Joan Pierre, PANAMANIA Artistic and creative director

By Neil Armstrong

Caribbean fashion will be in the limelight when the 2015 Pan Am Games opens on July 10 during PANAMANIA, the arts and culture program of the Games.

 Artistic and creative director, Joan Pierre, is excited that her Cuttin’ Style Caribbean, “a series of exceptional, sophisticated Caribbean-themed events,” has been commissioned by the organizers of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games to be part of the program.

Over the last six years, Pierre has organized three Caribbean fashion shows in Toronto, which were all successful.

“Of course having done that, I said, well, its Caribbean, they have different islands taking part in the Games so that’s it. It was just one of three proposals and they picked it,” said Pierre who has a multi-faceted career, encompassing consulting in the public and private sectors; producer, event planning, production and stage management; marketing and communications; artistic and creative direction.

She will produce three highly original fashion-oriented events aimed at showcasing the sophistication and refinement of “island wear” and Caribbean fashion from July 16-18, 2015.  

“We will create a new exciting way of exploring and celebrating the many gifts of the people of the Caribbean, through fashion.  Millions will experience a unique perspective – the most exquisite side and the finest expression of Caribbean elegance.  Also, we will engage the Caribbean design, fashion and business communities in a productive way and advance cultural awareness of the Caribbean countries,” said Pierre in the project description.

TORONTO 2015 and its Arts and Culture team created a commission fund to seed new and innovative arts and arts-legacy projects related to the TORONTO 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games.

“These are unique and innovative artistic concepts that align with the TORONTO 2015 mandate and ultimately enhance the cultural fabric of both the Greater Golden Horseshoe region and the TORONTO 2015 Pan and Parapan Am Games experience. More than 25 exciting projects have been selected,” notes TO2015 on its website.

The only other project commissioned in the fashion category is one by the Design Exchange, Canada’s Design Museum.

The veteran producer is no stranger to planning or managing international events. She has played a leadership role in the design, planning and implementation of events such as Caribana, the African Heritage Music Festival (New Orleans), University of Toronto Faculty of Law 50th reunion, Afro Anglican Conference, African Canadian Achievement Awards, Ethnic Studies Conference at York University; and several fashion shows.  

Pierre has been engaging the Caribbean region by touching base with government agencies of the different islands.

She has what she calls ‘foot soldiers’ in Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and possibly Haiti.

Pierre also works with the consulates in Toronto who are aware of what she is doing and are lending her whatever support they can to make connections in the Caribbean.

“What they going to experience is the top designers out of the Caribbean. They’re hidden gems in the Caribbean. I know of Trinidad and Jamaica, particularly, because I’ve been to their fashion shows down there and I’ve done shows here. So I know of the caliber of work that they have and it’s just a hidden gem in the Caribbean,” said the Trinidad-born Pierre who was very happy that TO2015 chose the fashion show proposal.

She said now she can bring that gem to Canada and let the people here see, not just Canadians but international media and Commonwealth dignitaries who will be here for the Games.

Pierre said she would be inviting boutique owners to attend the gala because the designers out of the Caribbean are boutique designers. They don’t usually do mass production although if they got such a request they could produce it. Four or five pieces of the same design are all that they usually make.

 “The colours, the combination of colours on a hummingbird is just stunning and the colours work. You could see the creative people who live there, that’s what they’re seeing so its easy for them to pick up on those colours and put them together.”

She noted that the creation of the design comes out of many different ethnic groups.

The two outside shows will be free to the public and held at the H2O Beach by the waterfront but the indoor gala at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel will be a paid event featuring top designers.


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