St. Maarten is a tasty turquoise jewel with 34 square miles of lush mountains, postcard-perfect beaches, and talent. A lot of it.
Over the weekend, Model Citizen was invited to take in the incredible work of 20 Caribbean and International designers from Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, St. Maarten and the world, showcasing at Color Revolution 2014 - St. Maarten's Island answer to Fashion Week.
We started the weekend with a tour of the country. The island is a 60/40 divide with 13 miles of French-colonized land, and 21 miles of Dutch land. And though it's one country, there are two of everything truly important - police forces, hospitals, government buildings, and schools. For those wanting a more lively experience in Saint Maarten, stay on the Dutch side. One can find many tours and outings geared towards tourists, you can stroll into Philipsburg, the capital of the country, to pick up gifts for friends and family, or head into Simpson Bay to Sky Beach, a beach inspired rooftop night club, for an experience that continues till 3AM. The French side of the island is more relaxed and quiet with quaint parishes full of vibrantly colored buildings and less populated beaches. For those desiring a more European beach experience, Orient Beach is the nude beach on the island, with the Club Orient nude resort close by. Ooh la la!
And though it is divided into the two European sides, the population of the island spans 80 different nationalities represented by approximately 190 thousand people. One can find food from so many various cultures. We found the seafood to be amazingly fresh. The Mahi Mahi and Snapper always grilled to perfection, no matter what restaurant we choose. Happy hour tends to be an all day thing on the Dutch side of the isle. Most beachside bars and restaurants have 2-for-1 drinks all day. Beers were reasonably priced anywhere between $1.25 and $3 for an imported beer. A breath of fresh air for New Yorkers!
An afternoon at Loterie Farm, the home of Elie Fleming, former Mayor of Saint Maarten, was a real treat. This hidden nature reserve is on 135 acres in Pic Paradis, St. Maarten's highest point. Once on the grounds, you immediately feel a sense of calm and peace. Enjoying a leisurely lunch in The Hidden Forest Café, overlooking the garden and surroundings, you wanted to order another specialty cocktail. The tuna roll, a special of the day, rivaled any sushi from NYC. After a lovely lunch, we strolled the grounds, where one could either go on a hike or fly through the trees zip-lining. There is also a beautiful pool area with waterfalls and cabanas for those that just want to take in the St. Maarten sun.
At night, the little island came to life in a whirlwind of silk and color. The Color Revolution weekend was hosted by Season 5, Britain's Next Top Model, Annaliese Dayes, whose heritage include Jamaican and St. Lucian. The weekend schedule of fun and fashion kicked off with an opening night preview gala. The second night's festivities included a fashion show of regional and local designers. And the final night showcased both regional and international designers. The whole weekend was one of bright textiles and fun prints, jewelry, free-flowing resort wear, and truly unique, never before seen styles.
Among the designers, we saw Koko Karibi Designs. Synonymous with statement pieces, "My jewelry is not just an accessory, but an expression," stated Jacqueline Charles, Creative Director of the brand. Each piece was breathtaking in its own right. Featuring hammered metals, unique stones from all over the world, as well as materials locally sourced from Trinidad, these were all really special pieces.
Shurnell Designs, a brand out of Tobago, featured beautiful flowing jersey pieces that could go from the beach to dinner. A standout piece worn by Athalia Samuel, Miss T&T World 2012, was a white, off the shoulder dress with flattering draping and a sexy slit that could be appropriate for a nice dinner and event in the Caribbean or a gala in New York City.
Kaj Designs, also showcased flowing pieces, focused on a tribal inspired collection that could easily be transferred from the runway to the real world. Kaj Designs has a boutique located in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Crochet was a big theme seen throughout the weekend. Colorful hand knitted dresses in various silhouettes were shown by St. Maarten designer, Kaishah S. Peters. Her stand out piece was a Tetris-style crochet sleeveless pencil dress that would look great with a bright blazer in the office and stand alone for after work drinks.
The fashion weekend was closed out with Oscar-style dresses created by Rihanna's Styled to Rock winner, Andre Soriano. Stunning work. "30 dresses in 30 days, darling", Siriano humbly admitted when discussing the collection he showed, "I am so honored to be here. I love the island of St. Maarten, I love that I can share my passion just like they have shared their island with me." He closed the weekend with stunning piece after stunning piece, set to the sounds of Oscar winner announcements from every year starting from the 1990's. The finale piece was a voluminous, black gown, worn by Caribbean fashion model, Nadata Gentle, and needs to be in Lady Gaga's assortment.
Model Citizen's suitcases came back much heavier after sourcing great, one of a kind, unique pieces. For rental access to some of these great pieces, please visit http://www.itsmodelcitizen.com and sign up for our private beta.
Definitely check out the direct flights leaving on Jet Blue from NYC, to experience St. Maarten - where every lifestyle has its place in the sun! There is a friendly and carefree vibe that is carried throughout the island by the locals. Saint Maarteners are eager to share their island and culture with visitors. In this island, you are never fully dressed without a smile. Plus, you can hop on a flight, and in 15 minutes be in one of many relaxing and exclusive islands including St. Barths, St. John, or Anguilla. Whether you are Beyoncé getting away from it all or foodie Jane that wants fresh food and strong rum, you are sure to enjoy your stay!