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I met Anita Alcott at The Edna Manley Visual and Performing Arts as a fashion design student in about 2013. She had a lovely personality, good looks, all those tings…but in retrospect, as I now type these words in 2020, I realize that I’ve never actually known what it’s like to do the work she does. She has always been designing; she’s always been working on something. She has been invited to present at a few fashion showcases (the Lust Yush annual fashion shows in 2018 and 2019, as well as the “Design Fusion” programme hosted by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation), and her design label “Naomi: Avec Amour” has considerable presence online and in fashion circles.
I took a “scroll” by her LinkedIn page. The about section reads: “This is a fashion brand that was created through the inspiration of three powerful females on my life. Era’s such as the 30’s, 50’s and 60’s are where these designs are pulled from into the future as we say, fashion forward. Fashion for this brand is very important and personal as it was and still is named after my Aunt who passed away 7 years ago, and she is one of the inspirations for the brand as well. Her legacy lives on through my brand, Naomi: Avec Amour”.
I asked her about how fashion inspires her. She says, “It’s both international and local. Why? Let me start with local first. Growing up, I have seen fashion legit play or change before my eyes where you know, say for instance, dancehall has its own look and so does reggae; and then internationally, hip hop has that little swag thing where you have dem baggy pants and dat kinda supm deh, throwbacks like a M.C. Hammer kinda thing. I basically pull inspiration from everywhere, or basically the changing that fashion does – that’s where I pull the inspiration from. But the thing is, I don’t allow it to change me as a designer – I make my impact in the fashion industry, so at the end of the day I don’t want people to say “Oh, she was inspired by M.C. Hammer because of the Harem pants”. No, mi nuh waan nuhbadi say that. I want people to say “Yow, what is your inspiration? Cuz I’d love to know how you came up with the designs,” yuh zimmi? That, that is what I love. And when I tell them the story of how the whole thing was created, and they go, “Oh”.
Who is one designer that inspires you (in any way) in fashion and why?
“A fashion designer named Christian Siriano because of his story and how he became one of the top designers in an industry that shunned him for his designs, but he saw the need to make a difference in the world and have his voice be HEARD!”
What’s your designing process like?
“My design process is tedious! It’s mainly about where and what inspires me. That inspiration then leads to designs and I mean a lot of designs. This then leads to fabrication (sourcing for fabrics), pattern making, drafts of the final pieces then a fitting then a second draft then a final product (told you, tedious *laughs*)”
I see on your IG that you’ve been featured on at least two fashion shows. How were you able to decide on what to showcase for them?
“They worked with a theme and based on the theme of the show I find inspiration through that. I think it was at JBDCs’ (Design Fusion) where I found that out, when I did the Metamorphosis collection and they’re like, “Why “Metamorphosis?” I told them it was inspired by the butterfly and me transitioning into a better designer and a better version of myself based on what was happening to me last year. They stopped and looked at me and said, “This is the story that you should always tell through every single design”. I know this quarantine is gonna help to really transition that into every design despite the fact that I don’t have anybody to model for me (I do it myself sometimes). But, the industry changes and fashion is revolutionary and recycled, so I do try to go with the changes but I don’t let it change me too much.”
What is it like working with models?
“It is exciting! I mean, to see that design on a body, fitted, flowing and moving, it’s beautiful.”
How does Jamaica represent itself through fashion?
“I think us as Jamaicans, we have a distinct voice when it comes to fashion. We might be inspired by other countries but because of our diversity, we stand out.”
Blessings in abundance!