As anyone who has ever visited can tell you, Jamaica is more than a place; it’s a state of mind. Even those who have only experienced its irie ethos through postcards, movies, or social media have an understanding of the positivity and liveliness associated with the nation. Greta Constantine’s Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong may be based in Toronto, but both designers have roots on the island. Their memories of home proved especially meaningful during Canada’s lockdowns. Trapped indoors with a collection to create, they didn’t focus on the gloom. Instead, they deep-dived into their culture.
“Because we can’t travel to Jamaica right now, this is our sweet escape,” shared Pickersgill. “When you look at the pictures, you see that part of the narrative is that clothing helps you to find that escape; it lets you close your eyes and go somewhere else momentarily. Our client doesn’t need to be on vacation; they just need to be allowed to dress up.”
Clothing as a respite from reality has been a recurring theme during resort, but Pickersgill and Wong offered a distinct spin on the concept. It’s easy to envision oneself beachside in Ocho Rios wearing one of their pieces, but they’d spice up life in Des Moines or Detroit too. The charm of their full skirts and jewel tones is easy to appreciate, especially when the silhouettes are pared down. In previous seasons the duo’s love of frills and exaggerated proportions have made their eveningwear a love it or hate it proposition; either you’re into a great oversized ruffle, or you aren’t. This go-round, things are cleaner, sleeker, and at times slightly sporty. The pink stripe on their color-blocked ball-skirt borders on Adidas-esque, while the leggings peeking out from beneath a white train could take you straight to pilates—if you’re the sort who totes a Birkin to the gym.
Though the overarching mood was sunny, several pieces hinted at darker pleasures. Add on a pair of fishnets and that jet black tiered eyelet dress with bared shoulders could easily go goth. Likewise, emerald ruffles that coiled up a column gown like creeping vines had a witchy allure. The shifts in tone were deliberate. “We’re keeping it fun but trying to develop because Greta is 15 now,” says Pickersgill. “She’s an entity in and of herself. We’ve realized that it takes more than two people to make it happen, it’s a community effort, and part of [our] branding is to develop as a house and think about the future the way we see ourselves developing.”
So far, that development is focused on optimism and expansion. The pieces that didn’t lean moodier doubled down on the bright colors and tactile fabrications that have made Greta Constantine a go-to for celebrities. When Taraji P. Henson is set to host BET Awards, or Priyanka Chopra reads out the Oscar nominations, their stylists give Pickersgill and Wong a call, and they whip up a look imbued with irie cheer. Moody those pieces aren’t, but not everything needs to be.