I came back to Harlem on Sunday with a very noticeable glow, and everyone who has seen me has complimented me on it. So I smile and casually respond, "It's the Bermuda glow." During my stay on the beautiful island, bright blue water, vibrant colorful homes and flowers greeted me from every direction. A smile followed by a gentle "hello" came with every encounter, no matter how brief. I danced with the sunset, my toes tickled by the fine, pink sand. I partied with the locals and made some great friends. I left feeling more inspired that I have felt in a long time.
Bermuda is magical. I think everyone should visit at least once. It's perfect for lovers: get lost in the caves for romantic make out sessions. Wake up to a beautiful ocean view with champagne and love-making. It's amazing for a group of friends to explore and relax. And it's one of those places where the locals are genuinely welcoming without any interest of selling you anything. While the island is absolutely breath-taking and the beaches are some of the best in the world, let's face it: Bermuda is expensive. If you are thinking of going, I'd recommend making the trip during the Bermuda Fashion Festival. There something on the agenda every day, and I guarantee spontaneous fun times will just come find you randomly. Here are my top THREE reasons you should give the festival a GO:
1. The local designers-
The Local Designer Show features seven local fashion designers who were carefully selected for a four-month mentorship program run by Celebrity stylist and fashion editor Shiona Turini. Supported by international magazine editors and fashion professionals, the end result is breath-taking; a new unique, quality fashion collection which each designer debuts on the Bermuda Fashion Festival runway.
Source: Bermuda Fashion Festival
The talent is undeniable in Bermuda. It's obvious the organizers of festival have spent quite some time with both the international and local designers to curate an ultimate celebration of fashion. I was blown away by JULIANA GIBBONS's dark and powerful namesake collection, inspired by a fire that recently occurred in her home. Each look represented raw emotion and passion. As a color lover, her shades of grey and black captivated me, the destruction of the fabric, and the poetic movement of her pieces. Her designs are the exact opposite of the Bermudian vibrant colors, but the contrast made it not only special but thought-provoking. I fell in love with LOVEBOMB's whimsical creations. The playful colors formed a magical, glittery rainbow on the runway. The designer, Brittany Wolffe, is a current fashion student in London, and watching her collection made my heart flutter. I'm not sure if it was watching the bravery it took for her to share her creativity with such a big audience or finishing a collection—although colorful, very different from the general Bermudian aesthetic. Another designer to remember was Jakai Franks, who presented JRU (Just Respect Us). His colorful collection both athletic and urban, appeal to both men and women who appreciate comfort and style. He won two prizes, which will allow him to sell at one of the top boutiques on Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda, and the opportunity to show his collection in New York City during New York Fashion Week with Harlem Fashion Row.
2. Mingle with celebrities and top fashion industry professionals-
Shiona Turini, celebrity stylist/creative director, whose work you may have recently seen in Beyonce's Formation video initiated a mentorship program with the city of Hamilton and the organizers of the festival to provide and create amazing opportunities for this year's local designers. The mentors, which included international magazine editors and top fashion industry leaders worked extensively with the designers months before the show. They flew to Bermuda to not only view the collections, but help put it all together for the show. The audience- locals and international guests alike got to mingle, dance and drink cocktails at sunset with these well-respected, hard-working fashion leaders. Shiona was presented with a fashion achievement award at the Coach gala where I (Girl from Haiti who started with very little, with big dreams and too much enthusiasm and never in a million years would ever think of being flown to Bermuda two years a in row) also got to share a dinner and drinks with the former premiere of Bermuda, and dance the night away with Coach's executive team. The last evening of the week, I also met one of the world's top fashion bloggers, Dani Song, who was happened to be ridiculously sweet and welcoming.
3. Expect an amazing schedule of events outside of the shows. Two words: BOOZE CRUIZE!-
Word of advice: Do do not, I repeat, DO NOT attend two booze cruises in a row because you will end up pulling out your hula hoop (if you have one) and end up a crazy hoop party that will be witnessed by the former premiere who will casually mention that during a speech at a really really, fancy gala. Seriously, the whole week was amazing, but the sunset cruise(s) won a special place in my heart. The first one was more relaxing. I was taking in all the beauty, closed my eyes, and occasionally opened them to dream with the sorbet colored skies while the sun was setting. The second cruise, the international models were able to join in on the fun, and that's when I really got down with Soca in the background. Smiles, sweaty bodies, loud caribbean music filled the seas that night, and it was epic!
All photographs are properties of Findingpaola.com
Photography by: Paola Mathe and Joey Rosado