Fashion students get high-end showcase for their designs

Another model practises for the shows which will feature local and international designers. - Photos: Taneos Ramsay

Rochelle Ebanks, 14, is excited and nervous about debuting some of her designs in a fashion show Friday evening at The Ritz-Carlton when the InStyle fashion event kicks off.

Rochelle is one of a group of 13 students from Clifton Hunter and John Gray high schools and Cayman International School, who will be showcasing fashion designs they produced as part of a new course offering run by Rochelle’s mother Norma Ebanks. Their work will be presented as part of the Culture and Style Soiree, beginning at 7pm.

At 7pm on Saturday, the weekend event continues with a fashion show featuring local and international designers. Part of the event is an art auction to raise funds for the Alex Panten Foundation.

“I’m very nervous,” Rochelle said about having 15 of her formal wear designs modelled on stage in front of some professional designers. “Some of these people have never seen what I can do and I don’t know how they’ll react.”

If the response is positive, she said, “it will inspire me a lot, because I’ll think people will want to see more of what I can do.”

Rochelle said she began designing clothes at 5, with the help of her mother. She plans on being a fashion designer.

Giving Cayman’s young people a chance to explore their creativity in the style arena and exposing them to the larger scene is a big part of what the InStyle event is about, said its producer, Terry Donovan. He said notable designers and industry representatives are attending the event.

Models spent Wednesday evening practising their walks.

“This is definitely an opportunity for this next generation to express themselves,” said Donovan, who has worked in New York’s fashion industry for 20 years and produced Summer Sizzle in the British Virgin Islands. “The kids have been working really hard.”

Donovan said he and his two co-founders of InStyle, Norma Ebanks and Stephanie Ford-Ramon, want to help develop students interested in fashion, but any of the arts.

“We saw there was an opportunity for the creative youth in fashion design, art and music,” Donovan said. “We decided to come together to create this platform.”

Work by local artists will be on display during the event and music will be provided by Cayman musicians.”

Ford-Ramon, who works in the finance industry but is also a makeup artist, said there needs to be more creative outlets.

A model walks the runway during practice for the InStyle fashion shows Friday and Saturday at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

“We almost force our kids, ‘You have to be a lawyer. You have to be in the financial industry,’” she said. “You’ve been told, ‘No, you can’t be in the arts.’ We want to go against the grain and give them the yeses.”

The programme intends to show interested students how they might take their craft “to the next level”, she said.

While the students are the focus at Friday night’s event, Saturday’s runway show will feature Norma Ebanks and Kenzie Rose as local talent along with fashions by top Caribbean designers Fe Noel of Grenada, whose work has been worn by Michelle Obama, Antigua’s Chen Burkett, whose line recently was picked up by Macy’s. Among the other international designers is New York’s Sergio Hudson, who has created pieces for celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston.

“We’re taking a piece of New York’s Fashion Week and bringing it right here to Cayman,” Donovan said.

Tickets for the Friday event are $75. Saturday night tickets start at $100. Visit www.instylecayman.com for more information.

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