Hollywood actor and multi-platinum rapper Will Smith popped in to Trinidad last night and surprised patrons at Anya Ayoung Chee's Carnival section launch when he showed up toward the end of the event.
Smith was said to have had dinner at a Port of Spain restaurant and missed the actual costume presentation, but was greeted warmly as he walked around the venue meeting and taking pictures with fans.
Asked about his reason for being in the country at this time, Smith said:
"I have a friend who grew up here… So we just popped in… I'm taking him to Philly next week."
Smith's appearance put the proverbial icing on the cake after Ayoung Chee's exclusive section with popular mas band, Tribe titled "The Runway" was shown to a couple hundred specially invited guests.
"I can't believe he's here!" said a stunned Ayoung Chee. "I'm such a huge fan, so I feel honoured and blessed to be alive at this moment."
Asked about her Carnival section, she said: "Ok, let me focus on your questions. Fashion plays such an integral part in Carnival so as a designer I wanted to make a costume that wasn't just about the beads and feathers – although the beads and feathers are sexy, don't get me wrong, but I tried to add a lil extra magic and I hope that will go a long way in making this a truly beautiful and memorable experience for all our masqueraders."
Tribe bandleader Dean Ackin referred to the collaboration as a "win-win partnership that was long in the making", and described Ayoung Chee as a "proud national talent with international acclaim".
He said: "Long before Anya's win on the hit television series, Project Runway, she had approached us about the possibility of a collaboration and this particular discussion actually began in 2010. Tribe is proud to be the first and only Carnival band to feature an Anya Ayoung Chee original as part of their offering for Carnival 2012. This world premiere of Anya's design is – we hope, the beginning of a long and successful partnership."
Ayoung Chee's designs were received well by guests with some committing themselves to play in the special section. Photographer and graphic artist Laura Ferreira described the costumes as "chic and sexy".
She said: "I think the colours she chose really give it an extra classy look and the patterns she added also give it some flair and pizzazz. Overall, it's a hot costume that any woman would love and enjoy playing mas in. It will definitely photograph well and should look fabulous on the road come Monday and Tuesday."
Among the models who showed off the costume were three former Miss T&T delegates- Gabrielle Walcott, Valene Maharaj and Jenna-Marie Andre.
Guests at the launch included Minister of Trade and Industry, Stephen Cadiz, sporting icons Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy and businessman Richard Sabga.