By Sevy Aysel, FabUK Magazine
The Black Entertainment, Film, Fashion, Television and Arts Awards, founded by Dr Pauline Long is a distinctly impressive award show, honouring talent in the black and ethnic communities. The electric showdown praises a range of tremendous talents from DJ’s to comedians to hair stylists.
It was a full house on Thursday the 27th of October as the audience rose to their feet rocking the roof off The Rock Tower. With outstanding, energetic performances, the atmosphere at the BEFFTA’S was impulsive and electric.
The audience didn’t just ‘watch the show’, they fully participated in the show, leaving every seat almost empty as they stood proud, cheering dancing and engaging with the performers. Spirits were high as positivity, love and infectious energy filled this celebratory event.
The BEFFTA awards is the first of its kind, rewarding leadership and personality contributions of Africans, Caribbean’s and Asians as well rewarding the entertainment categories all in the same night.
What’s special about the BEFFTA’S is, that not only do they celebrate all round accomplishments, but they also give recognition to up and coming stars, giving them a great platform.
The night was extremely uplifting as achievers graced the stage congratulated by the upbeat hosts who shared triumphant words with the audience. High profile guests including Kenya’s Presidential candidate Hon. Dr. Ekuru Aukot were present on the night. The aim of the BEFFTA awards is to inspire talented black and ethnic individuals to overcome challenges, branch out and conquer worldwide success; this aim was achieved as the night exuded inspiration.
Melanie Gayle was nominated for best female comedian at the BEFFTA awards 2016. Looking stunning in a Lacry Puravu dress, I was lucky enough to speak to Melanie and fashion designer Lacry Puravu, just before the show began.
So can you tell us something funny!?
Well basically I use to be like size 20 and when I was bigger, I was known as ‘melons’ because I use to have these massive boobs, each one was bigger than my head! In my set I always talk about weight loss in a positive way because when I was bigger I actually embraced it. I went from a size 20 to a 12/14 and I talk about my former melons and it always goes down well! Seriously they were like ‘hugeeee’.
Is this your first time at the BEFFTA awards?
No, this is my third time here. In 2014 I was nominated and I won last year!
How do you feel tonight…?
I am here today really excited and just happy to be nominated; if I win it’s a blessing! I can’t wait to see all the performances; it’s a really positive event.
Do you enjoy what you do?
I love what I do! I love performing and entertaining.
Do you get nervous?
I think you always get nervous before going on stage but once I start you can’t stop me! The moments when they say ‘coming up next’, that’s when I’m most nervous but once I’m on stage I’m just ready to go. I usually try to tell a joke in the first 10 seconds to break the ice or sing a song terribly; I do bad singing well and once I’ve done that I just relax…
How long have you lived in London for?
London, I’ve always lived in London; born and bred! I come from ‘North Weezy’.
Where can we find you?
You can find me online, on my website: www.melaniegayle.co.uk. I’ve got my videos on my video page and my YouTube channel as well: youtube.com/c/melaniegayleuk
How did you meet fashion designer, Lacry?
I met Lacry through LinkedIn. It was like an amazing connection, we started speaking about possibly making something for my Missy Elliot tribute act, Lacry agreed to make me something fabulousss; And then I got nominated…so it was the perfect opportunity to work together.
What inspires you?
You know what; I just always want to do more. My family always encourage me to do more; they are a big inspiration to me.
Have you got any advice for other comedians?
I think with comedy it’s very hard, people always think it’s scary but it’s the best thing I ever did. I dreamt of it for years and I’m glad I did it and I’ve never looked back since. I’d say it’s just taking that first step so people need to pluck up the courage to get over that initial fear and just start on an open mic somewhere; just try out your jokes, see how it goes!
What made you choose to wear one of Lacry’s dresses tonight, why Lacry?
I just love her stuff, I saw her raw elegance collection and I just loved it. I love black and gold. I love the neck stuff it’s quite similar to something I would wear. I love the detail and the fabrics. I was just very impressed with Lacry’s designs! It’s a great collaboration. I had fun choosing accessories to wear with this dress.
Good luck for tonight!
Thank you! (Massive smile)
What inspires your designs?
My designs are inspired by paintings, classic paintings, nature, books, seasons, colours, energy; it’s a combination of everything.
What inspires you?
Nature. I love nature. I spend a lot of time cycling in parks and walking through forests, it’s mainly nature that inspires me.
Tell me about your style?
My style is pretty much classic, poetic, romantic, feminine and elegant. Sometimes I add a little touch of Russian elements and European elements; I come from Siberia but I lived in Romania close to Russia. My last collection was called ‘Russian Twist’, with a nod to the Russian Imperial court. It was quite a success.
Where do you live now?
I live in Surrey now, I used to live in London but I moved 8 years ago…
Is this your first time here at the BEFFTA Awards?
Yes it is. Melanie is wearing a dress that I designed for her, I wanted to come tonight and support her. I did the last preparations for the dress last night so I brought everything here with me today.
Do you do everything yourself?
Yes. I create the design, I chose the fabrics and I bespoke entirely myself… I try to finish a garment before I move to the next one; sometimes it takes three days, sometimes a day, it depends, sometimes it takes a week.
Do you enjoy what you do?
Oh, I love it. I can work every day for 8/9 hours, sometimes I cannot stop; ideas constantly come into my head.
Where can people find your dresses?
My main collection is on Instagram: @designsbylacry, also Facebook and LinkedIn but I don’t really sell my stuff online but present them there.. If people like something, then they contact me and I will recreate the design to them with their exact measurements. Each piece I make has its own unique design, very rarely would I have ever produce the same dress twice; they are all unique pieces.
Talk to me about your preparation process?
When designing a dress for somebody I have dozen of questions to decide on. I present customers with the designs I have in mind and they love them. I sow, I cut, and I do everything from start to finish. It’s a lot of inspirational thinking; I process a lot of ideas and I’m constantly visualising…Before I make something I need to think for about a day or 2 about how I am going to do it in the right way .to make the perfect and have a “wow” factor.
Tell me something I don’t know about your dresses? I heard they are multi-functional…
I think about practicality and functionality and how the client is going to maintain the garment; I try to avoid the ‘dry clean only’ option. Most of my dresses are reversible so you can wear them on both sides for example it will be black on the outside and gold on the inside and you can wear it both ways. I also make the cuffs and collars detachable for easy washing; I attach snap fastener popper press studs so you can just pop them off and put them back on creating a different look. I want whoever buys the garment to be excited that it’s multi-functional like Melanie’s dress tonight…
What is your main Target?
My main aim is making sure that whoever buys a dress is excited to wear it!
Is it only dresses that you do?
I have started doing trousers but my main focus has been dresses, skirts and blouses.
What advice would you give other up and coming designers?
Don’t follow the fashion trends, be original and follow your instincts. I never copy the fashion trends I like to come with original ideas.
Describe your style in one word?
What’s in the future for you?
I don’t know, I am enjoying what I am doing and I have recently been approached for film projects and I find it exciting.
Would you think about displaying your work in a fashion show?
Yes, of course; a good artist is never satisfied with the work they do and are always adapting and evolving.