A Seychellois fashion designer has for the first time been selected to participate in the World Fashion Exhibition in Beverly Hills, United States, in October.
Oushna John Labrosse, 33, is the owner of OJZ Seychelles and she designs bags, jewellery, clothes and lingerie.
Labrosse told SNA that she was informed via email in 2022 that she had been nominated to participate in the fashion show.
“I read that email a few times as it was too good to be true. I questioned myself about its authenticity whether it was a scam or not. After a week I reached out to my friend Angelique who worked at ESA [Enterprise Seychelles Agency] at that time, she told me that this email is genuine and encouraged me to go for it,” she explained.
According to Labrosse, OJZ Seychelles has a platform on Facebook and Seybusiness.com, and “these people did their research and found me, they recognise me as a sustainable designer.”
The fashion designer was asked to send a biodegradable outfit because the World Fashion Exhibition is creating awareness for a sustainable fashion industry and focuses on biodegradable products.
“I sent a complete set consisting of a hat, clothes, jewellery and a handbag. I used linen, jute, coconut button, vacoa, and raffia to make the entire outfit. After submitting my outfit, I received notification that I had been selected,” she added.
Labrosse said that she “also did a live online interview with the representatives of World Fashion week, which was aired during one of Johnson Dionne’s shows in Los Angeles. I was amongst the first five designers to be on the show, followed by others.”
The 33-year-old told SNA she was happy to get the opportunity and that “I am the first Seychellois to be nominated for the event, I am making history and paving the way for others. It’s my biggest achievement so far, my work will be featured in Vogue magazine.”
She has already started working on her collection and will be participating with Seychellois model Nahil Accouche from the Tellys’ Modelling Agency.
Labrosse is getting the support of the National Arts and Craft Fund, which is sponsoring her trip to Beverly Hills.
Each participant in the fashion show will submit one outfit making a total of 62 pieces in the fashion show from 62 different countries.
Labrosse said “I will go with a collection of 10 clothes all reflecting the sustainability concept. The set will consist of both men’s and women’s wear.”
The money raised during this event will be donated towards the elimination of child mortality around the world because research has proven that many children are dying for various reasons and malnutrition is one of them. The event was supposed to take place in 2022 but was postponed to October 2023.
Labrosse is a graduate of the Seychelles Institute of Art and Design and also has an A Level in art.
She is currently teaching fashion and textiles under technology and enterprise at Praslin Secondary School.
Starting her own business
Labrosse said that while she was studying, she made jewellery to earn some money for financial support.
“After my studies, I took a break from jewellery making and focused mostly on teaching. At that time, I was a primary teacher. Later on, I picked up the business again and came up with new ideas by making jewellery with a sustainability concept. Before I used beads to make jewellery, now I use oyster shells, coconut shells, raffia, vacoa leaves, sea-shells and fabrics,” she said.
She works with coconut shells and vacoa leaves which she said are in abundance and easy to get, like most of the raw materials she is using.
“I do the assembling of the pieces and give value to the different pieces to make something different, something unique, which is not present on the market. For the packaging, I use to purchase readymade jewellery boxes but now I would like to use wood to make my jewellery boxes. I will have to look for someone to do it for me,” she told SNA.
Labrosse revealed that the challenge is financial as she has to pay the right people to cut out the pieces according to her designs and this comes with a cost.
“As for the different braids of fibre such as vacoa, I purchase it from an elderly woman, then use it to make my products. There is equipment that I want to use in sewing that is not available here in Seychelles, I have to buy it whenever I travel,” she added.
Labrosse has her own brand and she makes complete sets of jewellery, faux leather bags and some lingerie.
Her products are on display at her home and she also has a Facebook page and communicates with clients via WhatsApp.
“I take pictures of everything that I produce even if I don’t have them in stock, when a client request for it, I can make it within a day to sell. I work mostly on order and many of my clients like it when I customise the products for them,” she said.
Sources: Seychelles News Agency