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The second annual Rockland Fashion Week takes place at the Palisades Center on November 6; Opening cocktail at the Nyack hotel on Friday, November 5
By Tina Traster
Lorraine Freeman learned to sew on her mother’s knee. One of eight children who grew up in Guyana, she learned the skill as she watched her mother dress five daughters.
âShe made us dresses and I made dresses for my dolls with the leftovers,â said Freeman, owner of Customly Yours in New City. âWhen I was 11, I was making little skirts. “
In 1982, Freeman’s family emigrated to the United States. At 19, the teenager, with a penchant for fashion, studied design, worked in the clothing district, and eventually built a bespoke workshop for a woman. On November 6, she will be one of a multitude of designers attending the second edition of Rockland Fashion Week 2021 at Palisades Center. The launch party will take place at the Nyack Hotel on Friday November 5th at the Speakeasy Lounge.
Participating local designers include LeTiffany of Kurvacious Boutique, AnnMarie Kelly-Jameson of Elite Repeat and Sandra Szpicek Leylegian of Things I Love of New City. Other designers on the bridge include Time To Clothes, Forever 21, VH Hanley, LaPainture, Acor Du Roi, Health Jox.
Fashion Week is the brainchild of famous local designer Hope Wade.
Hope Wade’s designs have been seen on the catwalks of Fashion Weeks in London, New York and the Caribbean. In June 2019, Hope Wade Designs was selected to represent Jamaica at Caribbean Fashion Week for its international collaboration with Nigeria. Hope Wade Designs won the Woman of Excellence Award from the Alpha Academy Alumnae Association. Wade also designed the Miss World pageant dress in China worn by Khadijah Robinson Miss Jamaica last year. In January 2016, Wade was invited to present his 20 Ã 20 Pecha Kucha designs with Rosie O’Donnell at Nyack NY.
Wade Designs, a bespoke design workshop at 23 North Broadway, opened in Nyack in February 2020.
Rockland Fashion Week skipped 2020 during the pandemic shutdown, but the 2019 show was a sold-out event that took place at Kirkbride Hall in Stony Point, Wade said.
For years, Freeman, 58, has built a home-based business based on word of mouth. She is sought after for her dresses and evening wear. Now she hopes to expand her business beyond her garage.
âI have to get a bigger space with more exposure,â Freeman said. âI have six sewing machines, a computer, clothes racks. I just have enough leeway for myself, but I’m having growing pains.
There was never a time when Freeman didn’t make clothes. In her twenties, she was an assistant designer and model maker for Japanese designer Kalima Marco. When the family first immigrated to the Bronx, his father, who had worked in the timber trade in Guyana, found a job in a factory.
âWinter was coming and we didn’t have the right clothes,â Freeman said. âThere was a fabric store down the street where we lived. My dad bought me a used sewing machine, which smoked when I used it. But I managed to do simple things for my siblings and myself until we could buy clothes.
This skill and his ease with the sewing machine turned into a searing passion. She was her best billboard – she sewed a dress and wore it to a wedding or for a special occasion and her friends and family started asking her to make them tailor-made clothes.
âNo matter where I lived, I had to have a sewing room,â Freeman said.
In 1992, Freeman and her husband Jasper moved to New City. She has always sewed and designed clothes, but started her Customly Yours business in 2006.
Its strong point is being able to recreate a garment on sight.
“Someone brings me a photo of something they like and I can make it for them, custom made.”
For Rockland Fashion Week 2021, Freeman created the line âThe Essential Wardrobeâ, which moves away from formal wear. The line is an assortment of ten essential work and leisure outfits for fall and winter.
âMy husband is retiring in January,â Freeman said. âHe wants me to retire. It can’t happen. I have my dreams. I must pursue them.
Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.com