(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – ‘Diva’, or more precisely, ‘Diva – Enemy of the People’, is one of those rare breeds; a Caribbean feature documentary with a twist.
It tells the tale of fashion and rebellion in Saint Lucia, mixing fashion with politics, and sexual identity with a sense of drama.
In 2013, Parisian fashionista Vincent McDoom descended on his homeland Saint Lucia to stage what many thought would be a fashion show of International standing. But what followed was a fashion show that divided the Island’s people and started a political conflict with Saint Lucia’s main Government quango and power broker; its Tourist Board.
Like many Caribbean Islands, tourism pretty much accounts for a big chunk of Saint Lucia’s economy, yet Vincent’s fashion show ambitiously looked to change that. Controversy followed on a scale unimaginable, as Vincent upset pretty much everybody, challenging the Island to raise its game and founder a new fashion industry. Media and public opinion quickly turned against its flamboyant cross dressing provocateur.
Besides tourism, Vincent, has been one of the Island’s most successful exports. He had left Saint Lucia as a young man to excel in the Parisian fashion houses, at one time becoming Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton. He later went on to celebrity fame with frequent appearances on French National Reality TV shows where his fiery persona helped make him a household name.
For those that know Vincent, understand that he knows fashion. And so when the Tourist Board asked him to stage their inspired fashion event, it looked like a match well made. But that is of course if all goes according to plan. For as the drama within the documentary unravels, the behind the scenes politics quickly turn sour. From the moment Vincent arrives on the Island, it is not long before Vincent is fighting local hostilities, homophobia, and Island Officials as he challenges the Island’s status quo.
The documentary had unlimited access to the behind the scenes antics and gives a rare insight into what the Caribbean fashion industry and creative industries could be.
The fall out from the show continued for a few years following the inaugural show. Saint Lucia’s Tourist Board has since disbanded to be replaced by a Tourism Authority under the helm of its new Prime Minister Allan Chastanet. Interestingly, Chastanet appears in the film championing tourism as an engine for economic growth, which is of course how many across the Caribbean see that industry.
But should this be the accepted view?
Today Saint Lucia remains a first choice holiday destination for honeymooners with some of the World’s most luxurious and exclusive hotels. But there is of course a danger for any economy relying on a single product or industry. For too long, the Caribbean in particular has treated fashion as an entertainment rather than the multi billion dollar industry that it is. Indeed the OECD sees the fashion industry as a way forward for any developing country due to its reliance on labour rather than capital.
The documentary ‘Diva – Enemy of the People’ is out now on the Vimeo On Demand platform. It’s available for viewing via iOS, phone, tablet, Apple TV, Android & Smart TV, Roku & Chromecast amongst others.
‘Diva’ itself, was nominated for Best Feature Documentary at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival in 2016 and has since been screened on European television.