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Caribbean flavour at London Fashion Week

FASHION FORWARD: (l-r) Jaunel McKenzie, Jas and Nell Robinson

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed a celebratory private dinner for the Caribbean Collections at London Fashion Week, which honoured fashion and music icon Grace Jones.

I foolishly agreed to take a photo with models Jaunel McKenzie and Nell Robinson, when PR goddess Jessica Huie suggested it – how crazy is the pic (right)? Compared to the models, I look like I was shrunk in the wash!

The dinner was the final element of a two-day exhibition of Caribbean Collections at London Fashion Week. It was Chris Mcnair of CEDA (Caribbean Export Development Agency) and Jampro (Jamaica Promotions Corporation ) who were responsible for making the Caribbean Collections exhibition happen so hats off to them for all their hard work and commitment.


SMILES: Eddie Nestor, Jas and Juliette Dyke

A cocktail reception greeted us as we entered the very opulent, dramatic surroundings of the sumptuous Corinthia Hotel just off the Embankment. Imagining this was going to be a ballroom full of fashion folks and media, I was pleasantly surprised to find a very intimate group of VIPs, including singer Bruno Mars.

The cream of the island's fashion design talent were sat amongst us including designers I first met last year at Tobago fashion week.

My favourites of the night included Gavin Douglas’ all black capsule collection; Mei Ling’s very European muted classic colours collection; and designer Juliette Dyke’s collection of amazingly tropical coloured long gowns.

I also bumped into the Caribbean version of me – girl about the islands, columnist and journo Novia McDonald-Whyte, in her very striking, white-framed Gucci specs!

I was most excited that one of my favourite radio presenters, Eddie Nestor was sat next to me too. Eddie is a brilliant, courageous broadcaster that really questions the status quo. The BBC is really lucky to have such a sharp, well-rounded, knowledgeable man on their team. Mind you, I’m sure that by the end of the meal, he was delighted to get away from me and my constant yacking!

The whole evening was hosted in magnificently regal form by fashion luminary Kingsley Cooper and I have no doubt that this will be the start of many Caribbean designers making a foray into the European market.

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GEM OF A TALENT

ALL ROADS led to west London venue YoYo to see new musician Ruby Goe (right with Jas) perform a short set. Thursday nights at YoYo are famous for hosting new up and coming artists on the UK music scene and Ruby was worth making the trip out in the cold for.

I had already heard a lot of buzz about the Surrey-based lass with Nigerian roots. Ruby has had many reviews already and has been described as “M.I.A with hooks and songs” so I had to go check her out.

She was scheduled to hit the stage at 9.20pm, and shockingly she arrived right on time. She performed a few tracks with the most energy I have seen in a long time. It was like she was battery powered! She was powerfully vocal, considering her small frame, and I was pleasantly surprised to find she didn’t sound like she was mimicking another female act. A really impressive set!

Later that week I caught her on BBC2’s Review Show where she sung a ballad and the show reported back a great response to her! Will she be the latest in a long line of African-rooted Londoners making it big this year? I’d bet on it!

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ALL THAT JAZZ

I WAS recently invited to watch female saxophonist Yolanda Brown (left) perform at the Hammersmith Apollo with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was impressive!

It’s not often I go to something this classy in the music genre, so I took the biggest celeb in my life – my mum – and William MacLauchlan, who was my boss when I was at MTV.

Yolanda’s set was fabulous! The audience watched in awe as she took us through track after track accompanied by her sidekick – that sax! She performed both covers and original material and was joined by a powerhouse vocalist Phebe Edwards and Nigerian saxophonist Mike Aremu who just tore up the stage. The crowd was on their feet as the two sax maestros had what can only be described as a ‘sax-off’!

Yolanda has truly mastered how to make her art visually exciting and her onstage presence is mesmerising.

Mummy and I had a beautiful night; it will be a lifelong memory. Catch Yolanda where you can – you wont be disappointed!

Jasmine Dotiwala is a TV producer, director and broadcast journalist. Email her at jasmine@hiphop.com

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