Ava DuVernay was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, and an Academy Award for Best Picture. Set in Louisiana, ‘Queen Sugar’ is a DuVernay production on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The drama chronicles the life of estranged siblings who must save a sugarcane estate from ruin. In an impassioned scene, the protagonist stands before a Navajo-white panel door like a dark, towering Tobago Luise Kimme bronze, draped in a James Hackett dressing gown. James Hackett is a designer from Trinidad.
Felisha Noel is a New York designer based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Her mother emigrated to the United States from Grenada to work in a clothing factory in Manhattan. Felisha was drawn to fashion sitting on a factory floor at the feet of her immigrant mother. Felisha Noel is inspired by the Italian Renaissance and her label- Fe Noel- is celebrated in elevated circles.
James Hackett is a talented graphic artist who brings his striking appreciation of fine art to fabrics for fashion. His prints take a fresh perspective on the lushness of the Caribbean in his surface treatment of fabrics. He is the Henri Matisse of fashion. Polished like Emilio Pucci in his urbane patterns. His are not the pallid brown cotton sacks from the peasantry of the past or prints of coconut palms and pirogues. Who wants to wear that in Paris this summer anyway?
Felisha commissioned James to design the prints for her 2019 collection. The outfits with printed fabrics designed by James Hackett were featured in the January 2019 issue of Vogue magazine. Madonna tells it as it is- All you need is your own imagination/ So use it, that’s what it’s for/ Go inside, for your finest inspiration/ Your dreams will open the door (open up the door)/ Vogue, Vogue, Vogue.
Vogue is the most influential fashion magazine worldwide. It sets the standard. Bella Hadid, the Palestinian catwalk supermodel was on the cover of the debut September 2017 Vogue-Arabia, shot by Karl Lagerfeld. Nicki Minaj from Trinidad captured a coveted Vogue-Arabia cover in 2018. Editor Arnaut of Vogue-Arabia claimed that young luxury Arab consumers are gripped by Nicki’s vivid lyrics and her sartorial preferences. Nicki has 90 million followers on Instagram and plans to perform this July to the Arab market. It is a market that is experiencing demand elasticities in international trade and its Shariah.
To be spotlighted by Vogue is the dream of every fashion savant from India to Italy. Felisha Noel from Grenada believes that her designs which appeared in Vogue can transform people. Noel believes that all women have power and hopes that through her designs women can lean into that power. James Hackett from Trinidad graduated from The Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design, (CAFD) at The University of Trinidad and Tobago, (UTT). Together Noel and Hackett have touched on an approach to Caribbean Development that has eluded the CARICOM.
CoCreation in the mode of Felisha Noel and James Hackett is central to building a Caribbean Market Economy. But in the past, the fear of loss of sovereignty, made the choice to remain small, easy for Liverpool’s Three Blind Mice- Manley, Burnham and Barrow. The European Union (EU) which came into actuality long after the idea of Federation has adopted the euro as a shared currency and, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), can now account for 16.04% of the world’s gross domestic product. For Small Island States aiming to achieve a union that can parallel the EU, it is basic to create an environment for CoCreation.
Each island is a sovereign state. But the market of an isolated island is too small. This is precisely why Zara is not in the West Indies. Size and position matter. CoCreation can increase the size of that market and increase the return on the intervention activities related to the tangible creations that such a union might be able to generate. Discernment is needed however in developing a regional innovation policy following the discovery method prescribed by The Knowledge Economists Policy Brief No. 9 of the EU’s Expert Group on Smart Specialization.
The approach does not need a foresight exercise or a top-down industrial model framed by an armchair-plan and prescribed by a monk. It is a simple search for who is doing what well, how they do it, where they are working and how we can bring such people together to create new products for export. Products that are labelled- Made in the CSME.
This will require programme articulation across the tertiary sector and clear decisions on which programmes will receive GATE and which will not, and setting ceilings for funding for those that are targeted. GATE has been spread too thinly across too many mushrooming areas. Consequently, the impact in any one specific area is not significant enough to produce brink levels of innovative activity to allow sustainable growth.
Next is an open dialogue on a domestic and regional cluster policy that will pull together sector-specific development initiatives. This will encourage investment in areas that naturally complement other productive assets to create future domestic capability and Caribbean comparative advantage.