Six years ago, Danilee Trott and Lamont Robinson possessed a vision—to create an event which could mix retail and fashion which could ultimately assist the City of Hamilton’s tax payers, especially those in the retail division.

They held a fashion show on Court Street which was a success and the next year Evolution was born. It has now become the signature summer event for the City of Hamilton and commencing July 6, the Bermuda Fashion Festival will begin.

Today in Bermuda sat down with Ms Trott who is the Event Project Manager for the City and the Executive Producer for Bermuda Fashion Festival, and asked her how she has handled watching her baby grow into an event that is garnering the attention of an international audience.

TIB: Are you surprised that Evolution has grown?

DT: Yes and no. After the first Evolution we realised that this was a lot bigger that we had initially anticipated. It was from that point I decided that I wanted to have a five-year plan and in five years’ time, this was going to be Bermuda’s Fashion Week. Whatever that was called and what it would look like, I didn’t know yet, but I knew that I needed five years to build the brand, in order to create international exposure to grow the local support and the sponsorship dollars in order to make it happen. This year, being our fifth year for Evolution, was like watching a dream come true. We are really excited about all of the international partners, the international exposure, from modelling agencies, right up to fashion magazines and international models and celebrity guests.

TIB: Did you reach out to them or did they reach out to you?

DT: It’s been both.

TIB: How do you feel that little Bermuda has made this mark in the Fashion industry?

DT: This has really happened for the second time. AngelaMarie from Queendom Ink reached out to me about two and a half years ago and we have been growing our relationship ever since. But this is the first year we’ve actually had models reach out and fashion magazines and different people who want to participate, including fashion bloggers. To me that is like the alarms are going off and I’m saying ‘YES’, people are recognising that it is an international event…that this is a global destination fashion spot for the week, so it’s really exciting for me, it’s encouraging. It makes me want to happy dance.

TIB: You’re not a fashionista so to speak, but you have created a phenomenal production. What do you say to anyone who thinks you have to ‘be’ something in order to create something?

DT: I think you have to have a vision of what it is you want and why you want it. It has to be validated and justified with the position you are bringing it from and who you are bringing it to. Once you have that you have to be humble enough to hire the people who know what they are doing. I’m not a believer in doing everything myself. As I am the Executive Producer of the entire week, I’ve hired a number of professionals and I am working with a team who supports the event, who gives advice, who lend hands when they need to, who volunteer. The international partners bring a wealth of experience and a wealth of contacts and things that I would not be able to do on my own. So I think it’s recognizing what your strengths are and recognizing what other people’s strengths are and bringing the right people together in order to make it happen. I can’t sit here and name off every fashion designer, but one of my staff, Tamara Bradshaw, probably could, and that’s her area of expertise, but I lean on that. I lean on Vicki (Abraham) for the media side of things and AngelaMarie brings the whole celebrity side to it as well as Amir has brought a celebrity element to it, and I’ve some previous celebrity contacts so it’s just everyone bringing their strengths to the table. Lamont is an amazing model coach and is my backstage director for every show. He is one of the rocks that have kept it going for the last six years.

TIB: What has this done for the City, which had been traditionally known as a staid institution?

DT: I think that the Events Department as a whole has made the City a more social place. The community feels more welcome and more accepted by the City. It’s not just a Mayor and a Board who sit in a room somewhere. We are more open. Our meetings are open. We have public and transparent documents. I think the Events Department gives that positive image that says, ‘Bermuda is live. The City is alive’. When you come here there is something to do; something which is high quality, you’ll receive great service for great prices. It’s comparable with anywhere else in the world. As a tourism destination, it gives us another platform and another niche market to speak to that may not have necessarily looked at Bermuda as somewhere to visit. The fashion market is vast and it brings a good economic value. They come here, they shop, they dine in the restaurants and drink in the bars. They have a good time and most importantly they meet people, they make friendships, memories and experiences that make them want to come back. They may decide next year I want to come to the Food Festival or the Music Festival or the Arts Festival or any of the other holidays on the Island. I think the more that we build up what we have as a culture just put all of our efforts and energies into it, it gives us a lot more reach. As an island we should be working to grow these little pockets that are working well.

TIB: Isn’t Evolution being live streamed?

DT: We’ve been approached but we have not taken advantage of it yet. There are a couple of reasons why. We have to weigh out the value of live streaming where people can just sit home and watch it versus them coming out and seeing it live. I personally don’t believe you get the same experience or the same value as watching it on a screen, however we will be taping all of the shows this year and the social events and produce a video that people can buy afterwards.

TIB: Have any models from Evolution enjoyed any standout success?

DT: We have models who are working overseas with different agencies who are doing well and we are very excited about that. Sophie Adams represented Bermuda in Bahamas last year. She won the Islands of the World Showcase modelling competition. Designer Alshuntae Foggo also represented Bermuda last year. There are some amazing opportunities this year. Wilhelmina is coming here from Los Angeles. They will be scouting both male and female models. Listen out for more surprise announcements as they are coming soon and they will be unprecedented.