By Precision Staff Writer
her designs were featured on the catwalk she was cutting her teeth –
literally and figuratively – at her grandmother’s side, transforming
simple fabrics into
one of a kind creations.
Eve’s passion for
designing fashions started early. While
other little girls were playing with dolls or hosting tea parties,
the then seven-year-old gravitated towards an unusual hobby – learning
how to sew.
would sit at my grandmother’s side as she sewed garments for family
and friends. I had
[cut] up fabrics way before that, but it was
around this time that I actually started working on garments that people
would wear,” she recalls. “It was fun to do. I didn’t have to
think hard about doing it – just map styles out on paper and cut them
years later, at the age of 13, Eve started creating clothes for her
mom and some of her closest friends. Although she still designs for
them, today the fashion designer's clientele has evolved. Her client
roster is filled with fashion royalty, Hollywood movie stars and beauty
queens – all
clamoring for her swanky, show-stopping designs.
when it comes to divulging the identity of her A-list clients,
Eve remains tight-lipped on the subject. With a Mona Lisa smile, she
says her clients are fashionistas who make "an undeniable impression."
the head of her
La Maison De Besh line, Eve has garnered
a reputation as a designer whose line
is synonymous with quality
creations have become her calling card
– her clean, colourful lines her trademark.
her high-fashion designs take center stage during the Miss Universe
Fashion Show, making an
unforgettable impression is Eve's number
the lights have dimmed, the sizzling catwalk has simmered
and the audience has
disbursed, Eve says she hopes
attendance remember one thing.
want them to say ‘Wow
! That’s something new…I did not know
that could be done,
'” she says. “I want them to say
‘I want to own one of those designs.'”
her Miss Universe line,
colours – mostly palettes found in nature – will be the order of
inspiration came from the Bahamian fabric and the undercurrent of my
country’s wonderful cultural lifestyle,”
Eve confides. “I’ll
be using predominate
ly fabrics printed by Androsia or Bahamas
Hand Prints, [highlighted] by iridescent
pink, crochet roses
and braided Bahamian palm leaf. The colours come from shades found in
nature, such as papaya, blues, gold, greens and yellow
The fashion designer
s colour should "caress and uplift one’s complexion.”
In fact, it's her
bold and beautiful, award-winning designs that
have earned her the respect of her industry peers and the adoration
of fans eager to possess one of her coveted
reigning beauty queens to the prime minister's daughter,
Eve has designed for the who’s who of Bahamian society. Society’s
seeks out her eye catching gowns and elegant haute
It's a following that
Eve has meticulously built over the years in capturing a number of noteworthy
1981, she won the Designer of the Year title. In 1993, she took home
the Quality Fabrics Designer of the Year Award for best wedding attire.
Four years later, she won six of seven categories in the Quality
Fabrics Designer of the Year competition.
Eve is also a past winner of the Quality Fabrics Fashion Committee’s,
Fashion Designer of The Bahamas award. She also helped to attire the
stars of the
1997 film, “Zeus and Roxanne.”
her career, Eve's goal has been to design clothes that inspire people
to enjoy their inner beauty, while
their image into an elegant, engaging one.
believe we all have core beauty traits which define who we are,” she
says. “For a woman, it is beauty, confidence and power, but ultimate
femininity is felt in a suit or an evening gown. I believe a man’s
personal masculinity is what ignites style in his clothes.”
According to Eve, The Bahamas truly
has a viable, niche apparel industry. Small though it may be, she says,
"it's just as good as any other market."
Grand Bahama designer showcased to the world via the Miss Universe Pageant
SeB’s Fashion Is Worth
designs take to the stage
By Precision Staff Writer
Sabrina Francis is a sophisticated,
fashion-forward designer who creates accessible and glamorous collections
that appeal to fashion savvy, street smart women.
Known for her simple and understated,
yet sexy and feminine designs, Francis’ fashions have graced the pages
of local magazines like
. Not bad for a designer who entered
the fashion world at the age of 15, without any formal training.
“I worked from my bedroom,
sewing clothes for my girlfriends, my family and myself,” says Francis,
a designer of 35 years. “People saw everything we wore and I was able
to build a clientele.”
Seeing her potential, Francis’
father, Bruce – a building contractor – built SeB’s Fashion, the
designer’s shop located on Crawford Street in Oakesfield.
Francis relies on raw talent
and loads of ideas to woo her clientele. Before striking out on her
own, she worked alongside noted designers Jeff St John and Mavis Benneby
– the latter, now based in New York. “This is where I got my experience
sewing and designing,” Francis notes.
The designer also worked at
Got The Hots – an upscale cothing store – carrying out alterations
on their men’s and ladies’ lines. Here, Francis learnt how to finesse
customers, skills she would put to use at her own establishment.
Today, SeB’s Fashion creates
everything in ladies’ fashion – from elaborate christening gowns
to stunning wedding dresses to haute couture. However, the store’s
primary business is weddings. Wedding gowns start at $1,500, evening
gowns $400 and up and couture as low as $600. “I don’t go over the
top with prices. That’s why I’m not rich yet,” quipped Francis.
“I try to stick with what I know the customer can afford.”
Although she’s a self-professed
“practical” designer, Francis’ style is always changing. “Because
of that you can’t always look at an outfit and say that Sabrina did
this,” she explains. “Even with my sketches I’ll design something
and then while I’m working on the outfit, the vision changes to something
Expect Francis’ line for
the Miss Universe fashion show to range from day wear, straight up to
bridal wear. Like the other two designers for this event, Francis has
created 30 pieces. Half will feature the Androsia fabric, the other
half Bahama Hand Print.
“You’ll see a few swimsuits
but I really like to work with evening gowns,” says Francis. “The
Androsia and the Bahamas Hand Print are very simple and casual types
of fabrics but you can add and dress them up. It will be very interesting
to see how evening gowns come together out of those fabrics.”
Although the fashion show is
not a competition, Francis – who will be the last designer to showcase
her styles – says it’s certainly starting to feel like one. She’s
anxious, to say the least, about putting her best foot forward. “I
feel added pressure being the last one. It’s the anticipation of what’s
to be expected,” she adds. “You hope that at the end of the day
whatever you put out there is something that people will really be excited
about and really love. You want the girls to love it and have fun wearing
Francis, who confessed that
she never liked the idea of competing, says her desgins for the fashion
show are not going to be “over-the-top,” or too flamboyant. “They’re
designs that could easily hit the streets,” she says. “Something
marketable that the average woman would feel comfortable putting on.”
She’s considers landing a
spot on the Miss Universe fashion show roster to be quite a coupe.
“This is something many designers
have been looking forward to, something big like this. It’s a privilege
to be involved,” says Francis. “I want the international arena to
know that Bahamians are professionals in the fashion world. Our designs
are simple, very ‘islandy.’ Yet, we are unique in our designs and
Drawn by a Passion for Fashion
By Precision Staff Writer
It’s a huge challenge: create
high fashion designs out of local, tropical fabrics – more suited
for resort wear.
Yet, designer Rachel Turnquest-Garcia
is more than up to the task.
For the Miss Universe Fashion
, Rachel’s Boutique will rock the runway with 30 designs
– half made from Androsia (a batik fabric made through a wax and dye
process), the other half from Bahama Hand Print material (a hand printed
fabric made from silkscreen).
“It’s a challenge and you
want to be able to put your best foot forward,” says the fashion phenomenon
who has been a major player in The Bahamas’ fashion world for
more than 40 years.
Rachel’s secret weapon: her
“I needed some of her fresh
ideas with some of the designs,” says Turnquest-Garcia with a smile.
from a fashion
design course in Milan, Raquel Turnquest – who has a Bachelor’s
in fashion merchandising and a Master’s in business administration
– is brimming over with ideas.
Here’s how the mother-daughter
“She does all the sewing
and cutting. I do all the sketching,” the younger Turnquest explains.
“If she has an idea I put it down on paper so we can actually confirm
where we want all
of the seams to go.
Do we want invisible
zippers put in or not, do we want a lace-up back
– that kind of thing.”
early on that the two local fabrics chosen for the Miss Universe Fashion
show lent themselves to different styles.
“The Androsia is more hip,
funky and chic. I’m thinking
[about creating] something short,
something form-fitting. It is such a versatile fabric to work with
because they also have a stretch material which too, would give you
a nice, fitted format,” Turnquest explains.
“The Bahama Hand Print fabric
lends itself to resort wear type clothing. The white background behind
the majority of their fabrics gives you
a more subdued, refined,
elegant look as opposed to the Androsia, which is bright, vibrant and
more festive. It almost screams
Turnquest has one or two tricks
up her sleeves.
says she just might
overlay the Bahama Hand Print with some computer embroidery.
“After everything is over
we plan to feature some of the outfits on our website,
,” she confides. “At the end of
the day we want the world to see
that we are more than sun, sand
In bringing the Miss Universe
life, the Turnquests had to first overcome the color
which meant putting together an eye popping, jaw dropping
color palette – one that would be visually pleasing. It was no easy
feat, but they got it done.
From her unassuming shop on
Wulff Road (blink and you just might drive right
past it), Turnquest-Garcia
not only creates unique and compelling designs, but also some of fashion’s
little treasures, like her signature, special
On any given Saturday, a steady
stream of customers pass through the store, where rows of wide-brimmed,
luxurious hats adorn the walls and rolls of colorful fabrics
together at the back of the
store. Would-be brides and anxious
seniors thumb through magazines hungry for design ideas.
Turnquest-Garcia has plenty
; after all, her success didn’t come overnight.
The Abaco-born designer was
introduced to needlework, by an aunt, at the tender age of 10. Her first
“customers” were the dolls she designed trendy pants and tops for.
The would-be designer moved
to Nassau in her 20s. She worked at Mademoiselle on Bay Street sewing
men’s shorts and ladies’ dresses before taking a job at Norman Solomon’s
Factory as a men’s shirt operator. From there Turnquest-Garcia went
to the Nassau Shirt Factory, working as a sewing operator, designing
men’s shirts for many of the local stores around town.
The demand for her dressmaking
skills prompted her to start designing full-time.
In 1967 she opened her clothing
store, Rachel’s Boutique, specializing in custom-made, bridal haute
couture and other wedding apparel. Here, she performs general sewing,
fashion design consultancy and millinery work with her one-of-a-kind
hat designs (a trade she learnt from a course in London).
In the early 1980s Turnquest-Garcia
began putting on her own weekly pool-side fashion shows at hotels on
the Cable Beach strip and on Paradise Island, mainly for the tourists.
“Any fashion show without
Rachel’s Designs was incomplete,” she jokes.
In 1986, the trailblazing designer
formed the garment manufacturing company, Garment Unlimited, which specializes
in industrial and school uniforms,
At the dawn on the 90s, Rachel’s
was making most of its money from weddings.
At her peak, she designed up to 14
wedding dresses a month.
“We had to burn the midnight
oil,” she reminisces. “
Everybody wanted something different.”
Prom business took off for
the boutique in early 2000, becoming a second main source of revenue,
in addition to special designs for high-profile functions.
In 2001, Turnquest Garcia was
awarded the Living Legends Award for manufacturing by the Zonta Club
of New Providence. That same year
, she received the Lifetime
Achievement Award for fashion designing and manufacturing from the Bahamas
Agriculture and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and the Bahamas Manufacturers
Agriculture and Fisheries Association (BMAFA).
Although a custom-made wedding
gown could run you into $1,200 and a Rachel-designed, special-occasion
hat around $450, Turnquest-Garcia is quick to note that she doesn’t
design for the money.
“It’s the satisfaction
of me being able to create something different. That’s where I get
my pleasure,” she says. “I like to look at a piece of work and be
pleased with it first and then have my clients be over the moon.”
With no client
for this Miss Universe Fashion Show, Turnquest-Garcia has
one mission: “We want to blow them away.”
Brynda’s Haute Couture by Brynda
Knowles lights the catwalk
By Precision Staff Writer
Daring and creative, master fashion
designer Brynda Knowles knows how to mix it up.
Bold and loud, yet elegant in design,
her work reflects her infectious spirit.
For more than 25 years, Knowles has
been at the forefront of the Bahamian fashion arena. In fact, the four-time
Bahamian Designer of the Year winner has a local and international following.
She has created designs for the Caribbean
Cultural Committee (Caribana), the Miss Black Quebec Pageant, the United
Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Bronner Brothers International Beauty
Show and the National Black Arts Festival, among others.
As co-host of the Fashion Showcase,
Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza, will be adorned in three of Knowles’
“This isn’t something that happens
everyday,” she says. “I’m happy that the pageant finally made
it to The Bahamas.”
Knowles credits her inspiration to
move into fashion to fashion icon, the late Yves Saint Laurent. She
developed her Haute Couture and Prêt-a-porter collections.
“You could say I was conceived on
pins and needles,” Knowles says with a laugh. “I was born to do
In the late 70s, she graduated from
La Salle College in Montreal, Canada. There, she did her apprenticeship
under Canadian fashion giants, John Warden and Leo Chevalier.
From La Salle, Knowles moved on to
the University of Quebec in Montreal where she studied French, marketing
The training paid off.
Knowles traveled extensively with the
Ministry of Tourism introducing the world to Bahamian fashions. Her
travels took her to the United States, Canada, Martinique, St. Martin,
The Dominican Republic and Bermuda.
“I was promoting my
Androsia line back then,” she recalls. “It was exciting.”
Knowles is known for her love of flambouyant
color. It’s a trademark that’s made her a hit in the local theatrical
“These colours represent the fiery
nature of The Bahamian people. That’s why I love using them,” she
explains. “I also prefer natural fabrics. I absolutely love the exotic
appeal of cottons, linens and silks.”
In creating her lines, she draws on
a wide range of European, Asian and South American fabrics. While many
of her creations are made from batik and screen printed fabrics, quilting
is a trademark for Knowles, particularly with jackets. She also enjoys
the couturier embellishments of trims, top stitching and other intricate
With regards to style, Knowles’ collections
vary from prêt-a-porter (ready-to-wear) to haute couture (for men and
women). She prefers the intricate lines and details of the latter.
“Exclusive designs, exclusive models,
exclusive fabrics – that’s the standard I have always maintained,”
Although fashion designing is her first
love, Knowles is also a make-up artist by profession. She spent 13 years
at The Beauty Spot as a makeup artist and consultant for Yves Saint
Laurent. Though she officially retired in 2008, she still freelances
for the company.
An award winning designer, Knowles
has claimed the Designer of the Year award four consecutive times and
has earned four DANSA awards for make-up and costumes for her theatrical
Last year, she was the recipient of
Zonta's Living Legends Award in the field of fashion.
Presently, she is the designer for Brynda's
and President of The Fashion Group – a marketing
and consulting company. Additionally, Knowles serves as the senior fashion
consultant at Mode Iles Ltd, the producers of Islands of The World Fashion
She has one son, Samurai, an international
makeup artist for Christian Dior.
The Bahamas Weekly thanks our sponsors who made this coverage possible