An explorative look into Creole Caribbean Cultural Wear
On Thursday 27 October 2022, the Black History Month London premiere screening event for 'The Story Behind My Caribbean Cultural Style' docu-film took place at Cineworld, O2, Greenwich. The sold-out event was a huge success with positive reviews from the audience.
‘The Story Behind My Caribbean Cultural Style’ docu-film explores the Dominican heritage of British-born Madras enthusiast turned designer, Jennifer Laurent-Smart. A follow-up to Jennifer’s Cultural Style Week campaign video, this documentary delves deeper into her Creole Caribbean roots, the story behind her culture and its expression through her fashion. Jennifer also shares her views on the origin of Creole Caribbean traditional Madras clothing, its links to India, Africa, slavery and its use today.
“This project has provided me with a fantastic opportunity to share my love of the beautiful Madras fabric and my Caribbean cultural heritage while recognising the importance of it as a golden thread, which has evolved to link and unite many different groups of people across many different continents.
Within both the Caribbean and African diaspora our past and present have meaning and significance beyond the narrative we are taught. We are a strong, resilient, culturally rich and diverse people with a history worth remembering, a present worth celebrating and a vision for the future worth sharing.”
In the docu-film, Jennifer is also joined by additional interviewees of Creole Caribbean heritage across generations including eleven-year-old Adanaya Omari-Hakim and eighty-year-old Arthur Laurent. They share some of their touching and insightful personal stories and views on the connection between cultural fashion and their identity.
"I am from a mixed background and this film project helps people like me learn more about our culture and share it with the world. I feel so proud of my culture. My grandparents come from Dominica, Barbados, Nigeria and England."
Adanya Omari-Hakim, 11 years old
Other interviewees include Esther Fadelle Morris of the Waitikubuli Culture and Tourist Initiative, Marcus Monrose, Alisha Laurent-Smart, Germaine Conteh, Sylvester Defoe and Camille Martial from the United Kreyol Mas carnival band.
“During Jennifer's Cultural Style Week video, her enthusiasm for her heritage was abundantly clear, making her the perfect candidate for the production of 'The Story Behind My Caribbean Cultural Style'. This docu-film will help showcase the importance of Caribbean heritage to new audiences across the globe.”
Candy-Ellie Graham, docu-film director.
Live Q&A Event
‘The Story Behind My Caribbean Cultural Style’ premiere screening event also featured a post-screening Q&A event hosted by Jacqueline Shepherd, the BBC talk show host of the popular radio programme ‘The Scene’, which uncovers London’s diverse culture and emerging talent.
Panel members included the docu-films director Candy-Ellie Graham, docu-film star Jennifer-Laurent Smart and Dr Adom Philogene Heron PhD hosted by Jaqueline Shepherd. Chair of the Society for Caribbean Studies and Caribbean historian Dr Kesewa John PhD, was unable to attend but shared her thoughts on the film.
"Candy Ellie Graham's The Story Behind My Caribbean Cultural Style is a welcome popular entrant to Caribbean cultural history. It engulfed me with a profound nostalgia for Martinique and Guadeloupe, where it is embraced as national dress, and for Dominica and St Lucia whose streets at this time of year are filled with people, especially in madras outfits as they celebrate their creole heritage this month. Sa Ka Fet London's Jennifer Smart-Laurent is a great ambassador for the madras fabric and its possibilities for diasporic Caribbean peoples hoping and/or needing to connect to home. Her smile and energy light up the documentary and her enthusiasm and knowledge of the variation both of the fabric, its uses, and the parts of the Caribbean where it is worn are paired well with fabulous creations modelled by her friends and family who have equally been infected by her passion for the madras. Will Jennifer Smart-Laurent do for traditional Caribbean dress what Louise Bennett did for Caribbean language? I certainly hope so." Dr Kesewa John PhD
This was the first film project for Cultural Fashion & Arts CIC, a non-profit organisation that creates educational and celebratory cultural events, experiences and activities that celebrate diversity and bring communities together. They are also the sister company and official community focussed event partner for Cultural Style Week.
The docu-film will be screened in other locations across the UK and will subsequently be available online providing an educational and celebratory resource for all.
Support The Crowdfunder
Cultural Fashion & Arts still needs your help to bridge a funding gap for this first-of-its-kind project and is encouraging those interested to donate here.
View more pics from the event in the gallery below.