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WITH the mysteriousness of the letter seven and the special touch of a rose, designer Paula Williams is creating a stir on the local fashion scene, much, we suspect, to the envy of those who have ruled the roost until she emerged.
She stepped onto the catwalk late last year as part of a parade of designers for the PAS Promotion signature event “Made in Guyana”. There was hardly anyone who noticed anything different about what she put on.
Everyone noticed her at Miss Guyana Universe 2003, though not with an admiring eye.
But the woman who created “Beautiful Attitude” for contestant Deslyn Jack and a piece one newspaper columnist dubbed the “Salara dress” for another contestant, Stacy Bynoe, would soon prove her critics wrong.
Williams spent her early childhood at Mocha Arcadia, East Bank Demerara and later at East Ruimveldt in Georgetown.
For the last 20 years, Holland has been her home and there is where she perfected her love of designing.
Williams returned home last October and is weighing the possibilities of settling here with her Dutch husband and their two children.
‘Any invitations for a cocktail party?’
In Holland, she spent one year at Marga Klom Pe, a school specialising in fashion and designing.
She also spent four years at another fashion and design school - Kampen Wom Pe - where she underwent rigorous training in 21 subject areas.
So when Williams says she knows her stuff, she knows her stuff!
After completing Kampen Wom Pe in 1994, she moved on to open a fashion business, with the tag name “Seventh Rose”.
“For me seven is a mysterious number, and if you give someone a rose, they know they’re special,” she said, explaining the choice of the name.
After only about two months here last year, she already had a collection for the “Made in Guyana” fashion show.
“I’m always so fast”, she said.
Her designs were anything but spectacular, at least judging from the eyes of those who were at the show.
Williams’ next try would be Miss Guyana Universe 2003. She was asked to be part of the designing team for the competition evening gowns.
She worked with contestants Sheldyne Fereira, Deslyn Jack and Stacy Bynoe.
To start off, Stacy Bynoe was disappointing in the live intelligence segment of the pageant and everyone only saw her for her answers to the questions posed.
So Paula decided that on competition night, she would let the audience look at Bynoe’s curvaceous body.
She did that, creating somewhat of a winding wrap intricately sewn together as one dress to highlight all of Bynoe’s body.
The audience reacted negatively and the newspaper columnist dubbed the piece the “Salara dress”.
Williams, of course, was happy with her design, but getting people to like what you do is even more important in fashion.
However, she kept faith and felt personal vindication when she saw a liking of her work as a Giorgio Armani piece in a fashion magazine!
She put together the outfit named “Beautiful Attitude” for Deslyn Jack and again, jaws dropped in silent disapproval.
Deslyn was a firm competitor right from the start. She was the most articulate and fluent of all the contestants; her body was fit as ever for a swimsuit.
However, no one was noticing Jack for the competitor that she was.
So Paula decided that her “Beautiful Attitude” creation would do the trick for the young contestant who was making her debut in pageantry. As it turns out, it didn’t and Jack failed to make it to the top ten.
However, the design that many scoffed at was worn by American beauty contestant, Susie Castillo and scored her high enough marks to make her Miss USA 2003. Again, Paula was vindicated and she was ever more determined to dare to be different.
“I enjoy making fashion. I do anything and everything. I am an artist, and artistic freedom is important to me”, she told the Chronicle.
With the odds stacked against her, Paula decided to move ahead and on May 18, 2003, she took to Le Meridien Pegasus for one of the best shows the hotel has seen.
Roping in all the well-known names she could get - Olive Gopaul, Odessa Phillips, Mia Rahaman, Louann Da Costa, Marita Persaud, Genevieve Blackman, Shelly Sattaur and others, Paula put on display 58 pieces.
She dared to be different and she was successful.
Her designs ranged from the aggressive and sexy look of leather, chic casual pieces and elegant creations for the evening.
“I’m happy about the way things turned out”, she said.
From what was seen of Paula Williams on May 18, we know the competition has started and the others had better watch out. - (NEIL MARKS).