Sonia Noel continues to fly the Guyanese flag high. Recently receiving a national award for the expansion of her business Mariska’s fashion, there’s no stopping this fashion entrepreneur. She is just back from two stints in the Caribbean.
One was a charitable benefit in St Lucia supporting ‘Faces of Cancer’ under the patronage of the honourable Alvina Reynolds, the Minister of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations.
This event brought together cancer patients and survivors, medical practitioners, pharmacists and corporate St Lucia to ‘Strut for a Cause’ to support the pro-active organization made up of individuals who are afflicted in some way with the disease.
The showing was a major success set in the exquisite ballroom at Sandals Grande. Sonia Noel was the feature designer with four supporting fashion houses- longstanding St Lucian staple, Sea Island Cotton; newcomer, Nella Collymore’s Caribbean Vibes; St Lucian-based Californian designer, Dianne Starr with her line ‘Transformations’ and the toast of St Lucia, Sharleen Lagon, with her Jaeylu Inc. label, having earlier this year wowed Guyana with her beautifully crafted ‘folk meets the orient’ designs at Isika, along the Essequibo at the finals of Guyana Model Search/ Designers’ Portfolio.
Mariska’s Designs created quite a stir, outfitting Minister of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, the honourable Emma Hippolyte as well as the patron, the honourable Alvina Reynolds who made guest appearances on the runway to endorse the project. The ‘strutters’ certainly were fascinated donning the designs of Sonia Noel, with many of them investing in her inimitable designer wear.
St Lucia seems to agree with the designer for she ended her stay there cavorting in front the lens of Island Xclusive with the effervescent and vivacious Jeanille Bonterre in the intoxicating sunset backdrop at Bay Gardens Beach Resort .
Ms Noel outfitted Ms Bonterre for her travel series, promoting the exoticism, romance, adventure, sophistication and luxury of the Caribbean aired on One Caribbean Television, a CBS affiliate .
Her second stint was in Guadeloupe where at ‘Kreyol Fashion Days’, she had the opportunity to network with regional fashion stalwarts at symposia and conferences as well as showcase her unique, indigenous, Guyanese brand to the fashion cognoscenti.
She had the amazing opportunity to meet and dialogue with the illustrious French designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who was smitten, at once, with her signature braided hairstyle. It was a great learning experience for this talented daughter of the soil whose vision is to forge a way for a viable fashion industry locally and regionally.
Sonia Noel’s new Black and White collection with the very stylish hats and fascinators proved to be a big hit with the French patrons who greeted her unique fashion well.
“It was great meeting Jean Paul guiltier and chatted with him for a while and his advice is to be true to yourself and never forget where you from. Guyana had the smallest contingent at the event for those countries that had one designer had other people in the entourage but I represented well” said Noel.
While creating a stir overseas, Sonia also made headlines right here in Guyana, as her brand Mariska’s Designs was presented with the President’s Award “For Continuous Expansion and Market Penetration for Guyanese Fashion Design” at the Annual Awards Dinner of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association Limited. In true Noel style, little Miss Shonta Noel, Sonia’s younger daughter, accepted the award on behalf of her mother.
This is added to the numerous other awards she has gathered over the years, such as: The Shabeau Magazine award for Excellence for her contribution to Fashion in the Caribbean (2007), Pride of Bartica award from her hometown for her outstanding achievements in Fashion, both locally and regionally (2008).
The Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association award for her involvement in youth development and cross borders promotion of the local fashion industry (2010), the Caribbean Fashion Ambassador Award – US Virgin Islands Fashion Weekend (2011) and The Bartica Regatta Committee award for her outstanding contribution to Designing & Fashion and to the Ms. Bartica Regatta Pageants.
Her most current passion is the release of the magazine ‘Makin’ Style’ and getting preparations underway for Guyana Fashion Weekend 2013.