Thu | Feb 9, 2023

Kudos for Island Child Style

Designer creates passion out of pain

Published:Thursday | December 8, 2022 | 12:10 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
The Zuri Izabelle line is mainly for little girls and includes headpieces, tutus, T-shirts and other pieces.
The Zuri Izabelle line is mainly for little girls and includes headpieces, tutus, T-shirts and other pieces.
A proud Hilton claps as Zuri makes her way to the end of the runway.
A proud Hilton claps as Zuri makes her way to the end of the runway.
LaToya Hilton (left), the designer behind Zuri Izabelle, and her six-year-old daughter, Zuri.
LaToya Hilton (left), the designer behind Zuri Izabelle, and her six-year-old daughter, Zuri.
The line also features handmade bows.
The line also features handmade bows.
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The fourth staging of Island Child Star, which unfolded last Saturday at the Historic Naval Dockyard in Port Royal, has been attracting quite a bit of kudos, especially on social media, where the comments are clothed in words such as ‘epic’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘extraordinary’.

Among the comments were: “Everything about this night was epic!!! Congratulations to all the beautiful, confident models and big up to all the designers, but especially the child designers. And team Brandon, Norma and Michelle unno a Di boss!!! Love y’all!!”

“Congratulations on another wonderful show. As always, the event was great! The models were extraordinary! And all of them got such wonderful responses from the crowd.”

“A well-coordinated team and well-designed programme.”

Marketed as ‘the Caribbean’s premier children’s runway event celebrating fashion and designers’, the fashion show created that space where real life and dreams meet in harmony. The event showcased 100 models ranging in age from four to 16 years old – with varying degrees of boldness – strutting their stuff, much to the immense delight of family, friends and sponsors, who were certainly not shy to shout their approval.

Honestly, the youngest of the models were just too cute for words, and it would have been enough if they had simply walked the long runway and allowed the audience to relish in their cuteness. But they, too, were caught up in that magical moment and showed off all they had been taught, pausing and posing for dramatic effect, while eliciting applause mingled with appreciative laughter.

Numbered among the older models were those who seem marked for supermodel stardom; however, Island Child Style stayed true to its mandate that “a beautiful child is a confident child”, and therefore, the night was definitely more about confidence and less about being pretty.

Among the designers were Pesche; Shenna Carby; The Bold Collection; Theodore Elyett, Lucien Harrison, Ziggy Marley and Appaman; Kadian Nicely; Logan Unicorn by Logan Watkis; Lotus by Lian White; Anthony Reid for Meiling; Blessed, The Crown That I Wear, and Zuri Izabelle.

Each designer had his or her story, and for LaToya Hilton, the designer behind Zuri Izabelle, it brought to life a passion born out of pain. Her line, which is mainly for little girls, is named after her six-year-old daughter, and on one level, it honours Zuri’s late father.

“We decided to come up with this brand after I lost my partner, who is Zuri’s dad, and we really wanted something that we could do together to take our pain into our passion. Starting a clothing line is something I really wanted to do, but after her daddy got sick, it got put to the back burner,” Hilton shared.

It wasn’t until a friend suggested that she and Zuri do the line together that things started to take shape, and a line showcasing headpieces, tutus, T-shirts and more came beautifully to life.

“We handmade the bows and the headpieces, and Zuri helped with that. The T-shirts are designed by us and printed here in Jamaica, and the after we designed the outfits, they were sewn by seamstresses across the island,” she explained.

A thrilled Hilton shared that making her debut at Island Child Style was “amazing”, and she commended the children for their enthusiasm.

“I am so excited. I am happy; I feel like I have conquered a giant. Working with all the little girls has been amazing. I really think that the team at Island Child Style has something powerful. We opened our business in April this year, and when we reached out to them, they gave us the opportunity to show what we can deliver. We want to empower little girls, and our slogan is ‘She is gorgeous, smart and bold. She is God’s beautiful gift’,” Hilton said.

She is now busy stocking her online store, zuriizabelle.com.

In a quick interview, nine-year-old Trissanya Wentworth, who confidently strutted the runway with a whole heap of sass for designers Pesche, Lucien Harrison and Kadiam Nicely, summed up what was apparently the feeling of the models: “It was fun. I enjoyed myself immensely and would definitely do it again.”

Island Child Style is the brainchild of parenting consultant B3 BossMom Michelle Gordon, in collaboration with branding expert and aviation training instructor Norma Williams and international financial adviser and runway coach Brandon Ferguson.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Port Royal Basic and All-Age School.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com