BY RODNEY D. GANTT
Promoting the beauty, culture, and style of Downtown Jamaica, a number of local designers and retailers will come together and showcase their styles during the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District’s fifth annual, Jamaica Just My Style Fashion Event.
As the Jamaica Center BID’s signature event, the fashion show brings together over 400 influential media civic leaders to the downtown area, to showcase the fashions of the various retailers on Jamaica Avenue, according to Valerie Stevens, director of business services and operations for Jamaica BID. The event will be held on June 18, inside the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, located at 153-10 on Jamaica Ave.
“Everyone’s always looking forward to this event, the retailers look forward to it because it showcases their fashions and increases foot traffic in their stores,” said Stevens. “Once we host the fashion show, attendees actually go to those stores looking for those trends,” he added.
Retailers for the event include Claire’s, The Gap, Old Navy, Pretty Women and the Jamaica Avenue Designer Outlet, a men’s clothing store and one of the only black-owned businesses on Jamaica Avenue, among others.
Prior to the event, Raymour and Flanigan will host the Model Designer Mixer as a sort of meet and greet for those involved in the fashion show.
“The mixer is just a way to introduce the models and designers for the event, for them to network, take pictures and promote the stores in downtown Jamaica,” said Stevens.
The mixer will be held on Saturday, June 11, from 4 to 8 p.m., at Raymour & Flanigan’s Jamaica Avenue showroom, located at 168-53 St.
Margaret Persaud is the featured designer in the fashion show, with her colllection, Gamakache Black, chosen for its one of a kind style.
“Her designs are very out of the box, very unique and authentic. Her dress wear is very celebrity inspired,” said Stevens.
V Hanley is a collection by Vedeta Hanley, a designer from Baltimore whom Stevens chose personally because her designs fit well with her vision for the show.
“I appreciated her collection and it meshed with the the message I’m trying to bring across, that downtown Jamaica is trendy, it’s fashionable, it’s authentic and unique, anyone can wear it and it’s affordable,” said Stevens.
Riddim Driven, is a Caribbean collection that is also a part of the show, from VP Records, the only independently owned Caribbean record label in Jamaica.
Stevens was able to procure models for the show through local agencies as well as social media by posting the event flyer on Jamaica BID’s Instagram and Facebook page. Stevens encouraged “curvaceous girls” to apply as well.
“When I created the flyer I said curvaceous girls are welcome because I don’t want to exclude them,” said Stevens. “They’re beautiful and sexy and they like fashion as well.”
Stevens praised Tick Tock, a new retailer in the show, claiming it was the only store currently on Jamaica Avenue that catered to curvacious girls.
In all there are 30 models who will attend a rehearsal on Friday, where Stevens said she will be looking for models to have a sense of professionalism and “bring their walk to the stage.”
This year’s event will be “senior friendly,” said Stevens. As a result they have two seniors modeling designs in the fashion show, including Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12.
“It should be exciting, it’s been a long time but it’s not the first time I’ve been in a fashion show,” said Reddick, who has attended the event in the past and been surprised by some of the fashions.
Another special guest model in the fashion show is Mrs. Queens 2017, Nadine Grigsby. After meeting her at a local women empowerment, Stevens convinced Grigsby to be in the show as a way to boost her notoriety.
“I said to her, ‘would you like to model in the show? I think it would be a great exposure for you and great way to represent Queens,’” said Stevens. “She is a beautiful woman, intelligent and she owns her own business.”
The event will also feature a performance by 90’s R&B singer, Jeff Redd, which is just one of the things Stevens said she was excited to see during the event. Stevens said the event was a way of bringing people together.
“We come together and create and forge a relationship that continues to build and that’s what the fashion show does it builds relationships and the community and I want to continue to do that,” said Stevens.