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Fashion Illustrated: Ayanna Dixon

Ayana Dixon

Ayanna Dixon of ASD is one of the young Caribbean creative professionals trying to make the cut in the grueling world of fashion. Recently, Dixon treated herself to  a different kind of gift for her birthday. Rather than throwing herself a party, she staged an exhibition of her illustrations.

Decked in a huge smile and a red pant suit with a plunging neckline, Dixon welcomed friends and family to the event. The illustrations are light and whimsical and the bright, Caribbean coloured fashions display flirty eye-catching lines, enhanced by buttons and other textual interplay in fabric and beading.

Fashion and illustration are comfortable bedfellows, as designers first place their vision on paper before it is brought to fruition in fabrics. 

Patrons take in Ayana's illustrations while modeled designs make a backdrop“I thought it would be a different avenue. I just really love illustrations,” Dixon says, explaining that she has no formal training in fashion illustration but instead has garnered much of her knowledge from YouTube videos and books. 

“To me it’s the same thing,” she says of fashion and illustration. “It’s just a part of what you do, an extension of the design process.” 

Dixon came to the fashion industry as a model working with Pulse, but soon she was stung by the design bug. 

“I just love fashion,” Dixon says. “I love everything about the fashion industry.”

She recently returned from the International Fashion Showcase (staged during London Fashion Week 2014) as one of Jamaica’s representatives. The showcase featured emerging designers from Brazil, Japan, Koreo, Panama, Canada, China, Switzerland and several others.

Ayana's Dixons illustrations at the Olympia Gallery“It was really cool and interesting” Dixon says of the International Fashion Showcase experience. 

When she returned to the island, she only had two weeks remaining to her birthday, but Dixon was adamant that the day would not arrive without her having an exhibition. She therefore set about churning out the 22 pieces of illustration that would comprise the exhibition. Some of them were designs that she has yet to move from paper to cloth, and others are designs from others which she has admired. 

Dixon explains that she was moved to create the showcase as clients and others have long indicated an admiration for her work. Indeed, although this is the first time they are gracing the walls of a gallery, Dixon’s drawings have been placed on shirts, make-up bags, mugs and greeting cards.

The audience, including Dixon look on as the exhibition officially opens“I’ve always done illustrations and people have always love my illustrations,” Dixon says. She explains that some had even previously told her that they had framed greeting cards.

Having now taken this step, she wonders what those in the art world will make of her etchings, but that verdict is still out.

The week-long exhibition was staged at the Olympia Gallery, Papine, Kingston. 

Note: Edited March 30, to correct the spelling of Ayana to Ayanna)