Designer Courtney Washington with Marcia Martindale. (Picture by Sandy Pitt.)
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Courtney Washington is a designer who has worked out how to satisfy the fashion demands of women of all body types.
His “relaxed” style in design has generated business for the Jamaican designer not only in the Caribbean but also in the United States where he has made a name for himself.
Barbadian women got a chance to sample his work at an in-store fashion show hosted by Marcia Martindale at her City Centre Mall store “Martindales”.
Now the “Courtney Washington” label is in demand there as well.
“I am spreading my wings throughout the Caribbean and the Latin American market that I supply” Washington told Easy after the recently held Martindale’s Barbados show which followed the first whetting of local fashion appetites when Washington exhibited at the recent CARIFESTA in Barbados.
It was his first trip to the island and the first meeting with Martindale.
Now he says he will be working to meet the demands of those women in Barbados captivated by his styles on the catwalk.
Washington started out in his native Jamaica but was based in New York for almost 20 years.
Now he is back in Jamaica where he has opened two boutiques and is doing design and manufacturing for the different markets he serves.
It marks a return to the design roots of the Caribbean man who said: “Caribbean women and fashion, that’s were my training came in. I started doing custom designs for women and that’s where I developed this craft, that when a woman comes into one of our boutiques and she puts on a piece it looks and feels as if it was made for her.”
Washington’s motto is elegance and he says whether a woman is wearing drawstring pants or an elegant evening gown, she should always be relaxed.
“When I design I design for a woman who wants to look and feel that way and that is really my trademark.”
Nowadays he works with all kinds of fabrics, an evolution from those earlier days when he worked with only natural fibres. For the past 15 years he has been designing a fabric called tucker which has become the trademark of his designs. He has also designed jerseys and other fabrics. Still, he prefers to work with raw silks and linens.
“The cut that I do, I do it for women of all sizes and because I do from size zero to all the way up, there is no end to a size that I can make look and feel fabulous.”
Women constantly ask the designer “How do you do it? How do you know a woman’s body so well?”
The answer is “training”.
“In the business of fashion you have to be able to know your market and once you have the ability to know your market, you zone into what its body type is, what that body type will look and feel like.
“Some women are more top heavy, some women are more bottom heavy and some are heavy all over. The cuts that I do just work for the body types. It is just being focused on the consumer base that we have.”
In New York, Washington has done several trade shows and in 2000 the high end New York store Nordstrom picked up his brand. Specialty boutiques and other high end New York stores followed suit.
He told EASY: “There is no limit to what the brand can supply because the experience is coming from those days in those department stores.” (GC)