Designer Keisha Edwards of Shasha Designs from Guyana exchanged with artisan Launesha Barnes from Antigua and Barbuda to create a bespoke The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange - an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.
This look is inspired by Antigua and Barbuda National Costume and their Indigenous people, fusing elements of their Arawak tradition with their National wear. The neck of the dress is made with Burlap and is covered with seeds from the shac shac (flamboyant) tree. It is in the shape of a stick figure which represents one of the creatures that their shaman transforms into. The bodice is made with hand dyed Madras which is Antigua and Barbuda’s national fabric for their National costume. The centre of the bodice is made with palm leaves and fibres woven into a plain weave. Shac Shac seeds, jumbie seeds and buck beads create a triangular form on the front bodice of the design. The architecture of the Arawak Ajoupa (home) specifically the roof, inspired the full skirt of the dress, which is made with brown cotton and dyed burlap. The centre of the skirt is tie-dyed using natural onion skin and beetroot. Buck beads were sewn on the red panels of the skirt. Tibiseri straw (a fibre extracted from a Mauritia flexuosa found in Guyana) was woven with the palm leaves from Antigua (date palm) to create the plain weave used along the bodice of the dress as well as the front panel of the skirt. All other materials for this garment have been found in Antigua.
The project was launched by Commonwealth Secretary General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age and supported by Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.