She was not nominated for a Grammy Award, but Melissa Dunkley was very much on display at music’s biggest spectacle last Sunday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Singer Etana wore one of her designs on the red carpet.
Though Etana’s Reggae Forever lost to Sting and Shaggy’s 44/876 in the Best Reggae Album category, Dunkley said her creation being exposed to millions who tuned into the event on television made her MDIZ Fashion House a winner.
“Etana wearing my design at the Grammys has boosted my brand to another level. I have been on the local news in Tampa, Florida, and that has sent more traffic to MDIZ Fashion House and my website,” ..
According to Dunkley, the outfit Etana wore was an “off-the-shoulder silk taffeta fitted, fuchsia pantsuit with a pleated half-skirt that drapes on the ground with rhinestone bodice.” She added that: “it is edgy but still very classy and effortless”.
The self-taught Dunkley is based in South Florida. Originally from Silent Hill in Christiana, Manchester, she has been a designer for over 20 years and has shown at a number of Jamaican fashion events including Saint International Style Week, Touch of France/Expo Fashion and Fashion Block.
She said Etana has been a client for over 10 years. Other well-known personalities who have worn her designs are Queen Ifrica, Lady G, Macka Diamond, Stacious and Tifa.
Dunkley believes MDIZ Fashion House attracts dancehall’s finest because “my style is very chic and classy with lots of details and edginess”.
Fashion has always been a big part of dancehall music. The ghetto tailor kept busy throughout the 1980s for the genre’s biggest stars, but it was not until the early 1990s that dancehall haute couture took off internationally with Shabba Ranks.
The deejay won Grammys for Best Reggae Album in 1992 and 1993. Whenever Shabba Ranks performed live or appeared at high-profile events, he wore the flamboyant creations of Earl “Biggy” Turner, a Kingston-based designer.