Slide show:Eleuthera designer releases new line. Photos by:
designer living in Eleuthera is calling for Bahamian jewellery, handbag,
hat and footwear artists to collaborate with her to provide a "complete
Bahamian fashion experience" for locals and tourists alike.
Gardiner, better known as Empress Verda, has been sewing for nearly 30
years. She loves using Bahamian colours and African fabrics but in
recent years, she began looking for an authentically Bahamian fabric
that is similar in appearance to the African fabrics she loves so much.
She expressed this desire to a friend of hers at the One Eleuthera
Foundation, of which she is a part, and they gave her the contacts for
Danielle Morley, a local fabric designer living in Exuma.
Empress Verda and Danielle never met in person, they struck up a
digital relationship that blossomed into Empress' latest line of
clothing. They have been networking for nearly a year now. Danielle
produced her first fabric design and then a second, the latter being the
one that Empress said "really got her design juices flowing'.
Eleuthera designer releases new line. Photo by:
fabric, which Danielle called Bahamiana Seagrape, was closest to what I
was looking for in terms of a totally Bahamian fabric with similarity
to African print," Empress Verda said.
launched her new line of designs using the Bahamiana fabric this past
weekend at the Ministry of Tourism's Arts, Craft and Farmer's show in
Eleuthera and the line was also featured on Tourism Today.
was able to score a few accessories from local craftsmen for her models
to wear with her designs, but she wants to take it to another level.
"The tourists really like it - it's what they are looking for," she said.
I want to take it further, I want to showcase my designs in the hotels
and I want to team up with Bahamian footwear designers, jewellery
designers who will create pieces for my styles, and handbags made to
compliment the outfit and bring it all together. It's important for
local designers to collaborate."
making clothes when she was a teenager and took it on as a profession in
her early 20s. She attended BTVI and then took up private sewing
"The very first outfit I made was a
red and white polka dot dress with a drop waist, which was very popular
back in those days," she shared.
"I made it for
an elderly lady in my neighbourhood. When I saw her walking down the
street wearing it, I was very proud. It wasn't perfect, but I was proud
and I never stopped sewing."
Today, the Cupid's
Cay resident enjoys passing on her knowledge to the younger generation.
She teaches after school sewing classes at Central Eleuthera High
When asked if she felt that the sewing
profession could survive with so many people buying on line or in
clothing stores, Empress Verda pointed out that "there will always be
those women who want to wear something no one else is wearing and they
want a prefect fit". She added that those buying in stores or on line
still come to seamstresses and tailors for alterations.
models sporting her designs are known as the "Empress Empire models"
and they have committed to being her permanent models as she aims to
participate in more shows throughout the country. To contact Empress