Men in colorful trousers cropped above the knee really get me going. Who don’t get they get going, though? Bermuda shorts are the mullet of pants. They were invented for the British military (sassy chaps!) and grew in Bermudian popularity as a “respectable” hot weather professional alternative to pants — so there’s the business part of it. But they are nothing if not a party in the front, side and back. You cannot chafe in a pair of these babies and everyone knows that not chafing is the key to having a great time.
Wouldn’t it have been a disaster, then, if I flew all the way to Bermuda and didn’t see a single pair? Probably not, because Bermuda itself is an island of startling beauty — of water so profoundly blue that one could see how easy it would be to forget about tiny pants. But there they were, right away, spotted on nearly every man the moment I stepped foot onto this island that I’d quickly fall in love with. Glory.
The reason for my trip, which I dutifully told customs, was because for the past five months I have been a part of the Bermuda Fashion Festival’s Local Designer Mentorship Program. The event had finally arrived and so had I!!!
The customs officer found this sufficient, if also my enthusiasm insufferable.
But I couldn’t help it. I was more excited to be there than any place I had been in a while — for reasons beyond the shorts fetish. Years before I joined Man Repeller, back in my days of slinging runway Ralph Lauren looks to fashion books, I wrote for a website Shiona Turini used to run called Style Bermuda. She would assign me stories about local events that I would research and write from afar. It helped me learn about the baseline of Bermudian culture — to get the gist of what they’re about and what they do for fun, and it sort of helped me grasp their sense of patriotism. But to write about Bermuda is one thing. To experience it is quite another.
I was lucky. Shiona Turini, a Bermudian native, was our devoted program leader and dedicated tour guide. She shuffled around BDA Fashion Fest mentor veterans Nicole Chapoteau of Allure, Matthew Henson, celebrity stylist, Danielle Prescod, now at BET, Julia Gall of Interview Magazine, one editor in spirit — Kenya Hunt of Elle UK — plus two newcomers to the program: stylist Kat Typaldos and me, pointing out the sights and orchestrating Instagram-worthy photoshoots, making sure we didn’t miss a single thing.
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Thank you so much to @shionat @bdafashionfest for such an amazing experience — it's one I will never forget especially because now I'm obsessed with @bermuda so I'll probably just fly back tomorrow. Thank you also to @coach for supporting this amazing initiative , @elbowbeach for housing us, @rwtuckerspoint for having excellent beachside wifi, @coralcoastclothing for being the besttt and these people 👆for making me laugh the whole time even though they won't let me show emotion in photos. 🇧🇲❤️🌞
Shiona made it her mission that what we saw went beyond the resorts (although stop one off the plane was the luxurious Rosewood Tucker’s Point where I worked from a beach chair, and we stayed at Elbow Beach where I threatened the staff that I might move in).
She made sure that we ate the local food (fried fish sandwiches on raisin bread from Woody’s in Somerset Village), that we drank the local drinks (Rum Swizzles and Dark & Stormies — the latter of which is not a true D&S unless it’s made with Gosling’s rum; that’s one of the first things she ever taught me about Bermuda), and that we took in her island the way it was meant to be absorbed: underwater, with the coral reefs deep below us, off hotel property and on authentic island sand with family, kind strangers and friends (for a week, all of Bermuda adopted us), while dancing and celebrating and waiting out a cricket match in the rain. Part of me is still scared I might never have fun again. Seriously.
And then, of course, there was the real reason we were there: to support local Bermudian talent. Seven designers were selected from a slew of applicants to participate in this program: Jakai Franks of JRU, Juliana Gibbons of Juliana Gibbons, Brittany Wolffe of LoveBomb, James Lee of XoeTiqu, Madeline White of Novah Swimwear, Michaela Lewis of M.Lewis, and Sam Outerbridge and Adam Petty of Coral Coast Clothing. Each designer was paired with an editor from New York (I worked with Adam and Sam — hey guys!) and over the course of five months each team developed their BDA Fashion Fest collection.
On the left: a look by Julianna Gibbons; On the right: a look by Jakai Franks of JRU. Both designers were selected to have their items sold at Bermuda’s Urban Cottage. This is the first time since the program’s inception that stores placed orders from local designers.
The show itself was a celebration of Bermuda and the creative minds that populate it. As Shiona Turini said while accepting an achievement award from Coach, a title sponsor of the Bermuda Fashion Festival (and note that I’m paraphrasing): “Talent is undeniable on this island, but it needs opportunity in order to make visions a reality.” To get real cheesy, it was an honor to be even the smallest part of that mission, to be part of the program, part of my mentor/mentee team, this trip, the shorts, and for a just a few days, the island of Bermuda.
Runway Photography by Meredith Andrews; Collage by Lily Ross.