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Fashion links Tobago and the Netherlands

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

It is not far fetched though; after all, Tobago does boast a mine of creative treasure.

With the spotlight currently on the sister isle still basking in the glory and honour brought to the getaway destination by its home-grown Winston Duke, actor and star in the criticallyacclaimed Black Panther film, a world over phenomenon on the big screen, it vows to be consistent in showing the world what Tobago can do with the sixth installment of Tobago Fashion Coda carded for April 26, 2018.

For the first time since its running, the premiere fashion event which heralds the annual Tobago Jazz Experience with a somewhat total local concept diverges to collaborate with an external fashion designer through the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Twenty-seven year-old Dutch designer Liselore Frowijn will present a full showcase at Fashion Coda—a collection she opted out of the renowned Paris Fashion Week which began on February 27 savouring it just for Tobago.

Describing it as a secret collection just right for Tobago, in a Skype interview with the media at the Embassy yesterday where the Launchof Fashion Coda took place,  Frowijn expressed her love for the Caribbean and though it would be her first visit, she is anticipating nothing but the best and is excited about exploring this cultural exchange.

“I can promise it will be good,” she says. The bright-eyed Frowijn who has a creative obsession with luminous colours and the use of them in her designs, perhaps influenced by her affinity for Caribbean aesthetics, is a graduate of the ArtEZ Institute of Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands, where she obtained a BA in Fashion Design, graduating with honours in 2013.

In her short career so far she has been able to work with some of the world’s leading fashion name brands such as Gucci, Prada and Chanel and has won several awards. Her visit to the island might well be overdue, as initially she had planned to come in 2016 after talks with Fashion Coda’s brainchild and DgEvents director Don Grant, but with clashing dates for her then collection showing, plans fell through.

Coding it fate, she says timing is everything and all things happen for a reason.

“When the same question of my participation came again in 2017, I had no doubt because I was sure I could join this year and I really want to do it because I think on both sides what is happening here is something very interesting.”

She continues: “I get to bring my European collection there and it just shows how everything is connected and that is what I really want to show through my work.”

She communicated that a lot of time went into the collection and preparations to come to Tobago and finally launching it made the whole experience very special.

During his feature address Ambassador to Kingdom of the Netherlands Jules Bijl praised Frowijn’s work and said she creates fashion for people who have the guts to be seen.

Of the first time cultural exchange between both countries, Bijl who played a pivotal role in Grant and Frowijn meeting, tells the T&T Guardian, the Netherlands might be known primarily for its maritime and agriculture but there is also a huge and thriving creative industry bearing some of the world’s famous architects and artists. Boasting of the European country being the home of celebrated Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh and former head designer for BMW Design Adrian van Hooydonk, he said the creative industry is “hot” in Europe, but now has a special focus upon fashion.

“The Dutch are catching up and we’re spreading out a bit all over the world and to do so you need exceptional talent and Liselore is that exceptional talent,” Bijl boasts.

In his 11 years living in the Caribbean there are a few things that strikes him about the Caribbean like the intensity of the light and the way people wear colour which he says is far more outspoken than what is normally worn back in Europe.

It’s early for Bijl to say whether this could be the genesis of a healthy trade between T&T and the Netherlands, but he does believe there are unique aspects of the Caribbean with unlimited possibilities to explore.

Subsequently a visibly-elated Grant spoke of his desires for this newfound relationship. He believes though a small start; eventually it will encourage trade.

His hope is that Frowijn’s participation in this sixth installment will signal to other international designers that Tobago is open to working with fashion designers from around the globe.

He notes the fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business and T&T is still very miniscule in the scheme of things. Grant says the European Union (EU), is the mecca of fashion and local designers and the T&T’s fashion industry could learn a lot from these kinds of cultural exchanges.

In fact, he believes an exchange programme for designers should be officially developed between the Caribbean and the EU so that local designers can get a better understanding of what the fashion industry is all about.

“We have a lot to learn and a lot to gain and it is my hope that with this initiative it can only grow and go to the next level,” Grant says.

Tobago Fashion Coda is the face and image of a lifetime experience in Tobago. It fuses fashion, art, entertainment and cuisine. And serves as a platform for seasoned and budding designers alike.

This year it takes on the theme Smile—as it welcomes local designers Ecliffe Elie and Tobago designer Dayle Abeje Angus who will collaborate with another international designer, Austrian Andre Jack Voight.

Tobago’s very own Elizabeth Arthur who has had the good fortune of working alongside esteemed international designers and even the opportunity to present her praised Kimimi Swimwear collection at Los Angeles Fashion Week for two consecutive years (2016/17), will present her 2018 collection at Fashion Coda.

At the transformed Magdalena Grand, home to the prestigious calendar event from inception, multiple International Soca Monarch SuperBlue, no doubt high of his 2018 Road March win, a collaboration with soca superstar Machel Montano, will entertain patrons. Also billed to bring some diversity to the atmosphere is former Chutney Soca Monarch KI and Tobago soca artiste Adana Roberts.

n For more information visit: and You can also check out the Tobago Fashion Facebook page.


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