BY JADA VANDERPOOL
Fashion, flare and vogue model stares were in full effect on Saturday, June 18 at Jamaica Arts Center at the fifth annual fashion show “Jamaica Just My Style,” held by Jamaica Center’s Business Improvement District.
Executive Director of Business Services Rhonda Binda and Director Valerie Stevens partnered with Claire’s, The Gap, Old Navy, Pretty Women and the Jamaica Avenue Designer Outlet and many others to pull off the night. Four new businesses participated this year, including Jean Star, Tick Tock, Pretty Women and Pretty Girl.
“Rhonda and I work effortlessly to promote downtown Jamaica,” said Stevens. “In every way we are working hard to keep that conversation [about Jamaica] going.”
“This year was entirely corporate partnerships, so we coordinated with all of our amazing retailers and restaurants and were able to pull off the show because of our strong partnerships with businesses in southeast queens and Jamaica,” said Binda.
Hosts and Jamaica Arts Center manager Courtney French emceed the affair.
Jean Star, a stylish men’s clothing store opened the runway with trendy button up collared shirts, jeans and khaki styled pants.
Tick Tock, Hot Point and Pretty Girl followed with women’s wear in dainty maxi dresses, rompers, bodycon dresses, skirts and more.
Old Navy and The Gap summer collection held true to the brands’ casual chic wear with tropical printed dresses and t-shirts, patterned pants and oversized tee tanks.
Mrs. Queens 2016 Nadine Grigsby graced the runaway with a guest modeling appearance in a Gap tee-length dress. “It was an honor to be invited to participate in such an extravaganza,” said Grigsby. “I really thank Jamaica BID for allowing me to participate.”
Vedeta Hanley, creator of the couture V Hanley Collection, participated in her first Jamaica Fashion Show. Hanley worked with Abercrombie, Ralph Lauren and other brands before venturing out to create her own business.
“A lot of [the designs] were inspired by different kinds of leather whether it was typical black, gold, different type of laces to delicate and briquette silver metallic laces, so that’s pretty much my inspiration for that collection.
Floral designs were also a part of her runway wear. “The floral pieces that you saw were actual original prints that I created myself,” she said. “My favorite [item] was the [floral] jumper sets. Those two mean a lot to me because I created everything pretty much from the beginning to the end.”
Featured designer Margaret Persuad brought avante garde style pieces to the runway under her fashion collection Gamakache Black.
Infamously known for her love of black fabrics, she didn’t disappoint with black flower textured skirts and shimmer, a black mermaid sequined gown with a ruffle bottom, and a black velvet sheer dress. She displayed 11 designs from the collection.
Yvonne Reddick, District Manager of Community Board 12, wowed the audience as she strut across the runway in a gold sequined dress from Pretty Women, a clothing line designed for senior women. Another design from the collection was an elegant black ruffled gown.
Riddim Driven, a Caribbean clothing line owned by VP records, showcased graphic t-shirts with an island flare.
“It’s a lifestyle brand, you represent your own personal style, your own personal swag,” said Vybe of Riddim Driven. “This clothing line is not dictated like ‘you have to wear it this way.’” Models donned their tees with jeans, skirts, leggings and shorts to display various ways to style the shirts.
Jesseyka Roche modeled in the show for the first time and told herself “don’t look down, don’t look around and just rock it, and do the best you can.”
Roche and the modeling team had two rehearsals prior to the show. Her favorite designer to wear was Kamakache Black. “She’s phenomenal, her line was phenomenal,” Roche said.
Stevens was pleased with how the night went. “I think tonight flowed well. Jamaica Avenue is an authentic and unique place. We have everything that you need here, and it is welcoming and it is free, you just have to come out and hang out with us.”
“I hope that the audience got of the show that Jamaica Avenue is friendly and welcoming, and it is a place where you can shop,” she said.
“It’s an influential district, its rising continuously and I want them to walk away with that. I want them to know that Jamaica Center BID is here to do whatever we need to do to keep the conversation going that Jamaica Avenue is alive.”
Binda believes this is the beginning of more events to come. “There was so much excitement that a lot of the stores that came by earlier left saying that they want more of these kind of events in and around the neighborhood,” said Binda.
“We want to show that this neighborhood has something for every age, every ethnicity, every style, and that we have some rich culture, and it’s so easy to showcase that because that’s what Jamaica Queens has always been about.”