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Cedella Marley: For the love of music and fashion

Bob Marley’s daughter says music and her father are the inspirations behind her Olympic wear line for the Jamaican team

Cedella Marley with the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt
Image Credit: Image courtesy: Puma Middle East
Cedella Marley with the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt.

Cedella Marley says it’s not easy being her. And no, it’s not because her father, Bob, happens to be one of the most influential icons of the last century. It’s because as a singer, actress, mother, author, dancer, entrepreneur and fashion designer, this 44-year-old Jamaican’s CV is as colourful as they come.

“I’m busy but it’s important to do things you love to keep you sane,” she says, in an exclusive interview with tabloid!. “But my family will always come first. My brothers and sisters all have so much going on too but in a big way it brings us all closer together, everyone’s supportive of one another and my kids often tag along for support as well.”

Right now, though, it’s fashion she wants to focus on. And her late famous father might have a hand it in — she describes her design ethos as “Grace Jones meets Bob Marley”.

Marley has partnered with German sports apparel label Puma to outfit the Jamaican Olympic team, including the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt. Recently revealed in London, she spoke about fashion, her inspirations, future plans and designing for her country’s team and Bolt.

Q: You are also a singer, entrepreneur, you have dabbled in films, have your own fashion label and you are a published author. If you were to pick just one thing, which would it be?

A: I’d really like to stick with fashion for a while. It’s something I love and a place where I can use my creative mind and incorporate my passion for music by drawing inspiration from my favourite artists.

Q: What did it mean to you when Puma approached you to design the Olympic Wear for London 2012?

A: I remember talking to Puma’s CEO, Jochen Zeitz, when he was in Jamaica last year and I said, “Yo! Nice talking to you, Mr Puma, I can’t believe you haven’t done anything with the Marleys yet.” And he said, “Well, everything has its time.” So when they approached me to design the Olympic wear, I didn’t believe it. It’s an amazing opportunity, the timing is right and I’m extremely grateful.

Q: What does it mean to you as a Jamaican to be able to represent your country in this manner?

A: There is a very deep pride with being a Jamaican and being the one who designs the uniforms only deepens that pride. We break records — both the Marleys and Bolt.

Q: You are going to be outfitting the world’s fastest man and his team mates. How did the design process go?

A: To design for Bolt and the rest of the team makes me very conscious of choosing the right fabrics. I don’t want to weigh anyone down and I don’t want it to be my fault that anyone came in second. The fabrics and fit just need to be right. I want them to be comfortable and make them feel like they are in their own school. That is my main focus.

Q: You will also be designing the podium and ceremony wear that the team will where when hundreds of millions of people are watching. How does that feel?

A: I must say I feel a little pressure designing the podium wear. I remember last Olympics watching the Jamaican team walk out and feeling very proud. I think this time around we are going to stand out a little bit more and everyone is going to be watching.

Q: What was the inspiration for the collection?

A: My inspiration comes from Jamaican music in the 1970s & 1980s. Eek A Mouse, Bob Marley, Grace Jones, even Pat Benatar. It’s very contemporary, but with a vintage sport, varsity feel.

Q: What’s your favourite piece in the collection?

A: I can’t say that I have a favourite; I’m proud of all of them. But I do know that Usain Bolt is going to look fabulous in the Iron Lion military jacket during the opening ceremonies. With that jacket, we took the fit of what my dad would wear and updated it for 2012.

Q: Tell us about the Marley

A: is the Marley’s affinity programme, where we have hooked up with some really great charities. It’s a place where anyone can come to do “Marley Missions”, which is with just one action, one thought, and you could help to change the world. For example, you can take a lamppost and dress it up, paint it, put a T-shirt on it, anything. Take something ugly and make it beautiful. Our mission is to one-by-one plant a seed to make a change.

Q: How did you get into fashion design?

A: My background in fashion design is purely by accident. Touring with my brothers and sisters with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, I wanted everyone to stand out. We had the name and we had the music but I also knew we needed to bring something different to reggae. So I started to deconstruct different items and went from there to deconstructing more items and using my own fabrics. It’s been really good. Now I’m doing kids’ outfits.

Q: What are your thoughts about haute couture? Is that something you’d like to do?

A: I don’t know if that would be something for me. I’m a huge fan of fit and really appreciate when a garment fits well and I kept this in mind while designing for Puma. I really wanted to be able to create something that flatters the bodies of the athletes, and I think we did that.

Q: Where would you like to take your label?

A: My hope is that the billions of fans watching the Opening Ceremonies in London will notice Team Jamaica and start to really recognise the Cedella Marley brand.

Q: Will we see you back in the recording studio again soon?

A: Music will always be a huge part of my life and I think there’s a good chance you’ll catch me in the recording studio.

Q: Do you think Bob Marley’s message and the things he stood for are losing their relevance in today’s world?

A: Not at all. I think Bob Marley lives on in many people today. His presence is still strong in my house and I try to relay his messages to my children and communicate to them the impact he had on so many lives every day.

Q: Besides the OneLove project, what are you and your family doing to keep his message alive and relevant?

A: My brothers and sisters are still performing. If his music stays alive, so will his messages. I’ve also written children’s books, currently out are Three Little Birds and Boy from Nine Miles and coming out this autumn are Every Little Thing and One Love.

Q: Have you ever been to Dubai? If not, when can we see you here?

A: No. Is that an invitation?

* Select items from Cedella Marley’s Puma collection are available at Puma stores across the UAE.