Students have designs on fashion

The John Gray High School programme is unique

Coralgene Myrie, left, helps Kevaughn Hutchinson with making a formal shirt. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

Erin Bush sees fashion in her future and thinks a programme at John Gray High School can help her.

Erin, 14, was one of a group of 13 students who participated in the InStyle Cayman fashion event that took place in July and is anticipating doing the same next year.

“I think I would like to be a professional designer when I grow up, maybe even start my own fashion line someday,” she said.

Seeing her wrap-around dress, which mimicked the moon and the stars, on the runway in July, she said, was “exhilarating. It was a really big thing for me. I’ve never been recognised for anything but academic achievements.”

Erin was the youngest student working in the classroom of Coralgene Myrie on a recent school day. Myrie has been running the John Gray textiles programme for three years. It is the only government high school to offer such a programme.

She said the InStyle event added an additional facet to her programme the last academic term, allowing students an opportunity to have their creations seen by a large group of people.

“We are anticipating that InStyle fashion will be inviting us again next June,” Myrie said. “Most of the students are excited.”

Norma Ebanks, who helped martial students from John Gray, as well as Clifton Hunter High School and Cayman International School, for the fashion event, said she continues to coach some of the students and hopes more will get the chance to show their talent.

Offering students the opportunity to dip their toes in the waters of creating fashion is important, said Myrie.

“As we all know, fashion is a must,” Myrie said. “We all have to wear clothes. I push the students to have it as a second career. We don’t want to flood the market in Cayman because it’s very small. There are some (students) that are very passionate, and I push them to go farther.”

One who hopes to take that step is Kevaughn Hutchinson, 15. The lone male student in the class said his father’s interest in good-looking clothing inspired him.

“I want to be a fashion designer,” Hutchinson said.

He doesn’t expect to be able to achieve that goal in Cayman; he thinks he will have to move either to the UK or New York City. “Those are the places with high-end fashion,” he said.

First, he has a few things to learn. “When I first came here, I didn’t know how to work the sewing machine,” he said. “Mrs. Myrie taught me well.”

Since then, he has made a skirt for his sister and is working on a formal shirt, which he plans to adorn with a brightly coloured design. He, too, expects to contribute something to the anticipated fashion show next year.

Myrie’s class is not simply an outlet for couture creativity. There is a CXE exam for textiles, clothing and fashion that she is preparing her Year 11 students for. Part of the exam is a series of school-based assessments of their work, the first of which is 21 Nov.

Myrie also started a fashion club, which was recently taken over by the YMCA. About 25 students are involved in making clothing with the group, she said.

Destiny Williams, 15, said Myrie’s programme is important to her, even though she looks at fashion as a hobby.

“This class has been really helpful,” Destiny said. “Before, I never knew how to sew a skirt or a dress.”

Now, she’s putting the finishing touches on a dress she hopes to wear one day for special occasions.

“I tried it out the other day and it fit perfect,” she said.