Years from now when Jamaican designer, Carlton Brown, looks backs at his career, March, 2009 will certainly stand out.
Not only did he secure financial backing from Jamaican investors to market his clothing line internationally, but the talented designer made his North American debut at the recent LG Fashion Week in Toronto.
Premiering his Fall 2009 collection titled ‘The Collection’, Brown proudly showed off his eye-catching wardrobe with an eclectic mix of fabrics, colours and form-fitting and edgy designs and styles featuring shirts, trousers and suits that illustrate wonderful detail, quality and an accentuated finish from sourced swaths of fabric procured internationally.
He said his collection was partially inspired by Jamaica’s monumental success at last year’s Beijing Olympics.
Brown cleverly melded art, music and sports to express his ‘Winner’s Goal’ theme, an exploration of the drive, swagger and style of the success exemplified by the golden athletes.
“Sure, I am a big track and field fan and I was inspired, like most Jamaicans, by our success at the last Olympics,” said Brown who also enjoys soccer. “This collection represents my thoughts which surround our glory on the Olympic track and I try to capture that spirit of jubilation and pride by using colour and gold trimmings in the fabric, thus creating what I consider a masterpiece in terms of the final work.”
Born and raised in Kingston, Brown said he developed a passion for his craft at a very young age from his foster mother who was a seamstress.
“She sewed, her son was a sportswear designer and his friend was a tailor,” Brown, the Jamaica Observer Style Awards 2006 Designer of the Year, recalled. “So I was exposed to a lot of people who were in the business of sewing by the time I was nine years old. My foster mother’s eyesight was not the best, so I had to thread the machine for her. I would hang around at nights, waiting for the thread to burst so I would be called into action. That was just a joy for me.”
The father of two boys whose wife is expecting their third child, Brown said he was excited to make his international debut in this city.
“It’s a very good and warm feeling and it’s a reward no doubt for the good work that I have been doing over the years,” he said modestly. “When I learned a few weeks ago that I would be a shareholder in a company set up to help market my designs to a wider audience, I was very excited. To be here at a major fashion show soon after is really a big step up for me and an opportunity that I was waiting for.”
Jamaican-born, Canadian-based fashion model and runway coach, Stacey McKenzie, took Brown under her wings in his first major event outside the Caribbean. She was the only female to model his men’s outfits on the runway at Nathan Phillips Square last Thursday night.
They met at previous fashion shows in Jamaica but had never worked together.
“I immediately hopped on a plane and flew in from Barbados when I learned Carlton was making this appearance,” McKenzie, a model coach and judge on the Canadian reality TV show, Canada’s Next TV Model, told Share. “This is an opportunity for me to help a fellow Jamaican in a new environment. This is a big moment for him and I know there are many talented designers like him who are not been given a chance to showcase their outstanding work.
“An event like Caribbean Fashion Week is supposed to help bring this talent to the fore, but I have noticed over the years that if you are not down with certain people, you will not be showcased and that’s unfair. As a model, I have worked with the best in the industry, including Tommy Hilfiger, Jean Paul Gaultier and Calvin Klein, yet I have never been invited to Caribbean Fashion Week. We need to nourish the talent we have in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.”
Brown was the only Caribbean designer whose work was showcased at the premier fashion event.