Ocoee fashion designer Santia McKoy returned last month with her second S&M Custom Design World Tour fashion show.
The event, which took place June 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld, featured 70 unique designs and more than 50 models from around the world.
The fashion show presented seven different collections: Juneteenth, La Vie En Noir, 16 Shades of Pink, Here Comes the Bride, The Game, Hot Boy Summer and Designer.
McKoy said that while the show is hard work, it’s also rewarding for her personally and professionally.
“I do it for the culture, I do it for everyone, I do it for every shape, age, size, everyone,” the fashion designer said. “I don’t discriminate against anyone. We celebrate everyone’s diversity…everyone is equal.”
McKoy is no stranger to struggles to feel different and deal with varying opinions, good and bad.
Born and raised in Haiti, she came from humble beginnings. Unfair labor systems, poor road conditions, diminished agricultural practices, lack of sanitation and water supply were common for McKoy and his family.
She credits her strength to her family, staff and role models.
“Because of the family, this love I have for them, it gives me peace, knowing that I can carry on,” McKoy said. “I couldn’t be where I am today without the support of my husband and my children.”
MEET THE MODELS
Although the show featured over 50 models, five of them sat down with Orange Observer before the show to share their experiences and stories from around the world.
Edward Tapia, one of McKoy’s personal models, has accompanied her since the start of the designer’s journey.
Tapia said one of her favorite things about S&M Custom Design is that beauty is celebrated in every individual.
“She (McKoy) put me in pieces that I never thought I could wear,” Tapia said. “Being able to bring her designs to life is what inspires me the most…she (McKoy) embraced me for who I was, for who I was.”
Marcus Jackson, from Virginia, appeared on the show for the first time this year and said that while he’s been on several shows, what McKoy brings to the table is unique and bold.
“You become the piece and once it becomes one with you, people really realize how good the clothes are and how good the designer is,” Jackson explained.
Zodonis François, another of McKoy’s personal role models, said he enjoys incorporating his passion for acting while being on the runway.
“Especially with African-style music…you feel it and want to strut your stuff…it’s fun but also empowering,” Francois explained.
Vladymir Constant, originally from Haiti, said one of her main inspirations while working with McKoy is the cultural aspects she showcases in her clothing lines.
Britney Celamy, from Boston, Massachusetts, said that although her fashion journey only started two years ago, she agrees with Constant in her expression of the cultural impact of McKoy’s designs.
Although McKoy’s future is bright, achieving his dreams has been anything but easy.
“If you want something, you can’t just wish it,” McKoy said. “I’ve worked hard to make my dreams come true, and I won’t stop.”
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