For Fashion Week, designer Marrisa Wilson honors her Guyanese heritage with ‘Wild Coast’
In her Spring/Summer 2024 collection, designer Marrisa Wilson brings new life to the aesthetics of Guyana and old Americana.
“Wear your soul” is the tagline of CFDA designer Marrisa Wilson’s eponymous label. That ethos was clear as she presented her Spring/Summer 2024 lookbook in tandem with New York Fashion Week.
In a departure from recent Fashion Weeks, the first-generation Guyanese-American designer didn’t bring her collection to the runways this season. Instead, she is inviting fashion lovers on a journey to the Caribbean for a fantastical homage to her heritage titled “Wild Coast.”
Per a release to theGrio, “This dynamic line of ready-to-wear styles envisions a harmonic blend of Caribbean cultures within Guyana, finding beauty through unexpected balance. The clothing exudes inspiration from both the Rupununi region, a remote savannah grassland made up of sprawling ranches and inhabited by indigenous cowboys, and the vibrant coastal plain where lush tropics and native fishermen reside.”
The collection’s inspiration may be specific, but much like the biodiversity throughout the Caribbean islands, it is yet another manifestation of Wilson’s multifaceted aesthetic.
“Through my collections, there’s an opportunity for people to see Caribbean culture in a more nuanced light,” Wilson told Women’s Wear Daily in August as she participated in the “Buy From a Black Woman” initiative. “The Caribbean is not one monolithic culture. It’s so much more than just idyllic beaches and white sands.”
As the release notes, “Wild Coast” bears the hallmarks of Wilson’s label — “handpainted prints, bold colorways, and expertly crafted textiles.” New innovations include a garment-dyed cotton netting she developed in tribute to Guyana’s “cast net” fishing trade. Blending both sides of her cultural identity, the Spring/Summer 2024 collection fuses elements of Guyanese history with “the classic Americana aesthetic” — specifically, Western wear.
“Clever, unexpected pairings include cowrie shell accents embroidered onto trucker jackets, cotton netting combined with tailored suiting, tropical floral-lace appliqué motifs embellished onto maxi dresses, and self-fabric laser-cut palm fringe on cargo skirts,” the label explains. Much like the merging of the Indigenous people and European settlers who have informed Guyana’s history, “In MW SS24, these two distinct cultures and aesthetics are merged, creating one beautiful, soulful Calypso sound.”
While the new collection presents an exciting evolution for Wilson’s namesake label, she is nevertheless missed on catwalks this season. The two-time Fashion Scholarship Fund Winner and the winner of the 2023 FGI Rising Star Award for Ready-to-Wear is one of few Black women designers to regularly present at Fashion Week, a disparity Wilson noted when speaking with WWD.
“The challenge as a Black woman in the fashion industry is that we are so often the muse, the source of inspiration, but you don’t see us placed in positions of thought leadership or being the voice of fashion brands,” she said.
Maiysha Kai is theGrio’s lifestyle editor, covering all things Black and beautiful. Her work is informed by two decades of experience in fashion and entertainment, great books, and the brilliance of Black culture. She is also the editor-author of Body: Words of Change series.
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