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STYLEWEEK PORT OF SPAIN FASHION & BUSINESS

BIG CITY LIFE CREATIVES COMBINE

LEGENDS REMEMBERING THE PIONEERS

ISSUE #5 SEPT/OCT 2018


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CONTENTS 4 9 17 23 30 38 42 52 56 64 67

fluorescent black landscapes fashionTT update dual nature the spirit of woodbrook styleweek pos lucid a risky & unexpected undertaking starry nights legends DESIGNER DIRECTORY

on the covers

Here we are, Issue V. We are reminded of the abundance of talent and creative perspective in Trinidad & Tobago and the wider Caribbean through these magical pages. Our journey was undulating, because it’s always difficult to achieve anything of real value. However, the real delight begins now, as you peruse our fifth edition publication. Conversations about fashion and style on this twin-island paradise started more than fifty years ago, and we’re excited to contribute to the next fifty years if you, our readers, would have us. A very special thank you is extended to the members of the unique production team at Fashion Focus, without whose input we couldn’t make this happen.

UTT FASHION GRADUATE: DANIEL CLARK PHOTOGRAPHER: ANTONY SCULLY MODELS: LETEISHA CLARKE (cover), ISAIAH JAMES (back) STYLIST & CREATIVE DIRECTOR: KEZIAH LENDOR ART DIRECTOR & RETOUCHER: CHRISTOPHE PIERRE

>

(SEE PAGE 4 FOR THE FULL STORY)

FASHION CONVENTION LIMITED Studio One, 11 Tiara Boulevard, Diamond Vale, Diego Martin, Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. 1-868-471-1919 fashionfocusltd@gmail.com www.fashionfocus.org Fashion Focus

@ffmagazeen

Graphic Design: Ayrïd Chandler

@ffmagazeen

Printed by Scrip-J Printers A division of The Business Supply Group Limited 1 Fernandes Industrial Centre, Laventille.

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BLACK ROCK TOBAGO PRODUCES A BRAND NEW FASHION STAR Daniel Clarke introduces Fluorescent Black Written by: Keziah Lendor

It was an evening of new blood for the Trinbagonian fashion industry and one of the most anticipated fashion events of the year. The University Of Trinidad & Tobago’s Fashion Design degree graduates were at the homestretch of their program. Their fashion show exhibition, was the student’s final call to arms to highlight the best of their work and a keen sense of what was taught. Expectedly, some of the country’s top designers were in attendance and eagerly seated front row awaiting the collections. As each student’s work began to cascade down

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the runway, Daniel Clarke’s collection soon hit the stage and one thing became blatantly evident, this young man was one to watch. Nods of approval could be seen in ripple effect across the room by industry professionals, some even gazed with awe like gestures unable to mask that he had quickly become the crowd favourite. By the end of the night he was assuringly awarded ‘Student Of The Year 2018’ for his work and was given a standing ovation as he presented himself on the catwalk to receive the top award of the night.


Daniel Clarke, who hails from Black Rock Tobago, was awarded a scholarship to attend The University Of Trinidad & Tobago where he studied Fashion Design and has been a top performing student for sometime. His design aesthetic reflects an audacious and unmistakable point of view, crowned with a strong consistency of thought which ironically juxtaposes his reserved and understated demeanor. Daniel created the brand Fluorescent Black as an ode to his blackness inspired by black excellence, it’s potent culture and his personal struggles. Here we get to know the rising star a little better.

1. WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALIZE YOU WANTED TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER?

I won’t say that it’s has always been a dream to be a fashion designer but it has always been my passion to create. I realized my fashion design cravings as early as 4th form at Bishops High School Tobago.

2. WHY THE NAME FLUORESCENT BLACK? WHAT IS THE MEANING BEHIND GIVING YOUR BRAND SUCH A NAME?

Fluorescent Black was an oxymoron that I created to emphasize the exuberance of black skin. My friends were very mean and made fun of my complexion which really pushed me to turn that experience into a story for others that may be going through some sort of hurt.

3. NOW THAT YOU’VE GRADUATED AT THE TOP OF YOUR CLASS IN FASHION DESIGN, WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT GOALS AS YOU PURSUE A CAREER IN FASHION?

One of my main goals as a designer now is to allow persons to understand that they can experience and experiment with various styles and to develop a brand that may be recognized internationally.

4. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR NOW THAT YOU HAVE STARTED YOUR OWN LINE?

“EDGY AND FRESH” Mark Eastman

My biggest fear now that I have started my own line is failing to satisfy my clientele.

5. WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOUR WORK?

I’m insanely motivated by the works of Alexander McQueen and edgy London street style.

6. HOW DO YOU WANT MEN AND WOMEN TO FEEL WHEN WEARING YOUR CLOTHES?

When wearing a Fluorescent Black piece one should feel fearless, like Rihanna at the MET gala, or Kanye on stage.

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“IT FELT DIFFERENT AND HAD AN INTERNATIONAL APPEAL.” Adrian Foster

7. WHAT ARE THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE FLUORESCENT BLACK? Edgy, Street, Empowering.

8. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR THESIS COLLECTION IN WHICH YOU WERE AWARDED STUDENT OF THE YEAR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO? WHAT INSPIRED THE COLLECTION?

My thesis collection Apathy, was very personal in that in delved into the topic of skin color and race The collection was a validation of black lives and black culture where I tried to display various nuances such as stereotypes, criticisms, attitudes and opinions of who we are or who we are perceived to be where affirmative words were digitally printed onto the garments. Pops of red yellow and blue were added in representation of worth ability and power respectively.

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9. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS WITH REGARDS TO FLUORESCENT BLACK FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS?

I hope that Fluorescent Black can display collections in 4 major fashion districts within the next ten years.

10. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CARIBBEAN DESIGNER OF ALL TIME?

I actually don’t have a favorite designer of all time but I really admire RisAnne Martin who happens to be a stylist/ designer.

11. WHO IS YOUR STYLE ICON? Undisputed, ASAP Rocky

12. IF YOU COULD MAKE ANYONE YOUR MUSE WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I think that Trinidad model Iyepha Biggot has a great vibe and really gets my creativity going in that her style and swag has my flow.


13. WHAT DO YOU WANT FLUORESCENT BLACK TO BE MOST KNOWN FOR? Straps and creatively utilized notions.

14. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY DESIGNER AS A MENTOR, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

I could see how Alexander Wang could make a great mentor.

15. WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART ABOUT BEING A DESIGNER IN THE CARIBBEAN PRESENTLY?

Sourcing materials to create work on an international level is pretty difficult as well as meeting deadlines.

16. ANY ADVICE FOR THE CURRENT DESIGN STUDENTS, WHO ARE LOOKING TO SHAPE A BRAND OF THEIR OWN?

“HE HAS A GOOD KNOWLEDGE OF HIS TARGET MARKET AND HIS DESIGNS ARE EDGY.” Sandra Carr

I would recommend to start creating work in a very fearless manner. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope.

17. WHAT DOES BEING A CARIBBEAN DESIGNER MEAN TO YOU?

It means a lot since I’m one of a few street style Caribbean designers that exist. The opportunity to pave that road is very huge for me at the moment and being able to set that tone is something that I look forward to. EDITORIAL LOOKBOOK CREDITS: Stylist & Creative Director: Keziah Lendor IG: @kezstylesinc Photographer: Antony Scully IG: @scullyphoto Art Director & Retoucher: Christophe Pierre IG: @designbyspirit MUA: Tricia Blaise-Fergus IG: @facebyblaise Hairstylist: Similia B IG: @bcthebeautyloft Studio: Herro Studio IG: @herrostudio Models: Leteisha Clarke, Iyepha Biggot, Isaiah James, Caleel Kelly IG: @teisha1, @iyepha_biggot, @kellydionisia, @isaiah_milio_james

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LANDSCAPES Creative Direction & Styling by KAIRON VICTOR NEWTON (@studioxnewton) Photography by SANCHO FRANCISCO (@sanchofrancisco) Models ALEXANDRIA SIMS (@simsalexandria) and DANIELLE ALPHONSO (@iamdanielle_alfonso) Makeup by O’NEKA THOMAS-FRANCISCO (@islandgirlglam) Retouch by NKOSI LE GENDRE (@legendre_studios)

ADRIAN WILSON (@adrianwilsonml) Leather Bracelets by BLAANIX (@blaanix_212location) FASHIONFOCUS ISSUE 5

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HARVEY ROBERTSON (@harvey.robertson) Leather Grommet Belt and Bracelets by BLAANIX (@blaanix_212location) Rings by MODA BELLA (@modabellatt)

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KALOIS (@shopkalois) Choker by WILLOW AND OAK (@willowandoak_) Square Sunglasses by SANIANITOS (@sanianitos) Earrings by BLAANIX (@blaanix_@212location) Rings by MODA BELLA (@modabellatt)

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ADRIAN WILSON (@adrianwilsonml) Leather Bracelets by BLAANIX (@blaanix_212location) FASHIONFOCUS ISSUE 5


ADRIAN WILSON (@adrianwilsonml)

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ADRIAN FOSTER (@afadrianfoster) Earrings by BLAANIX (@blaanix_212location) Arm Cuff by MODA BELLA (@modabellatt)

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ADRIAN FOSTER (@afadrianfoster) Earrings by BLAANIX (@blaanix_212location) Arm Cuff by MODA BELLA (@modabellatt)

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FASHIONTT The Business of Fashion About FashionTT

The Trinidad and Tobago Fashion Company Limited (FashionTT) was established in 2013 with the mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activity of the fashion industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth. As a subsidiary of the Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company Limited (CreativeTT), FashionTT provides service for local fashion industry stakeholders primarily fashion designers in the areas of fashion apparel, functional apparel and accessories.

How Does FashionTT Impact the Fashion Industry?

The strategic plan for the fashion industry of Trinidad and Tobago clearly outlines key strategic initiatives which will impact the commercial output of the fashion sector. As the executing body, FashionTT will implement these initiatives over a 5-year period with the aim of developing the sector in the following ways:

EXPORT-READINESS:

The fashion sector has been earmarked as one of the pilot sectors to lead the country’s economic diversification thrust. As such, initiatives such as the annual Value Chain Investment Programme and the opening of a Garment Production Facility later this year are aimed at enabling local designers to improve their business operations and fulfil export orders in bulk. This will result in increased revenue for designers but also for the national economy.

JOB CREATION:

As the sector expands into a vibrant, thriving industry job opportunities will abound. For example, FashionTT has already conducted several interviews to staff the Garment Production Facility including a Production Manager, Sewing Operators, Cutters, Screen Printers, Embroiderers and Sales Representatives among others. The business model for this facility also proposes the creation of an internship programme which will utilize students who are participating in technical apparel design or manufacturing classes and will afford

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them the opportunity to gain knowledge on the operations of a manufacturing facility as well as hands-on experience for r´sumé development. Interns may also benefit from full time employment once the internship cycle is completed.

CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT:

Through FashionTT’s Business of Fashion Workshops, numerous designers were able to improve their skills and business operations. These workshops are held annually and FashionTT expects to assist over 50 designers in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

What Are the Strategic Projects Being Implemented by FashionTT? VALUE CHAIN INVESTMENT PROGRAMME

The Fashion Value Chain Investment Programme (VCIP) is one of the core projects of the Strategic Plan for the Fashion Industry. This programme assesses local firms by an independent international panel who will categorize firms into one of the four levels of the VCIP: 1. The Global Value Chain (GVC) Support Programme: Designers in this tier are already advanced in terms of business strategy, operational capabilities and product quality. As such, they will benefit from working with export support professionals who have a proven track record of assisting Caribbean firms with acquiring production and retail distribution partnerships with international companies. As part of this export support and market penetration drive, FashionTT will assist these designers in attending: a. Fashion trade shows for the purpose of sales b. Trade missions for the purpose of outsourcing supply of textiles and production and c. Direct B2B meetings with potential buyers and suppliers. In 2018, and for the first time in this category, three designers have successfully scored in this tier: Meiling, Charu Lochan Dass and Ecliff Elie. These designers will work with selected consultants for threeyears, after which their brand and products will be ready to penetrate regional and international markets. 2. Non-Global Value Chain (non-GVC) Support Programme: In this tier, expert consultancy support will be provided to eligible designers who already have a fully operational business but require intrinsic assessment and implementation of key tools to improve particular value chain elements. These designers will work with Vincent Quan, Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, for one year to refine their in-house performance with the aim of becoming export ready. Professor Quan has previously worked with the first cohort of designers in this tier in 2017, two of whom are now participating in the Global Value Chain tier.

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3. The Incubator: FashionTT has partnered with the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO) to provide business mentoring, training and financing (upon successful assessment) to designers who require support in gaining a comprehensive understanding of core business fundamentals such as business model formulation, business plan preparation, costing and pricing of products, financial and cash flow management. This is an annual programme that seeks to assist approximately 35 designers in 2018. 4. Future Support: This form of annual training is for aspiring or entry level designers who need support in both the technical and business fields of fashion. FashionTT will host annual capacity building seminars which will be academic and practical in nature to ensure that participants are equipped to progress onto their aspiring fashion professions in any of the categories of the fashion business value chain. This training will also strengthen these companies’ capability to communicate and build relationships with suppliers, buyers, customers and financial institutions.

The VCIP helps mold the designers and their businesses into an export ready entity over a 5-year period.

GARMENT PRODUCTION FACILITY

The establishment of a garment production facility in Trinidad and Tobago is another key initiative spearheaded by FashionTT that will address the manufacturing needs of local designers. FashionTT has partnered with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) to open this facility at the University’s Port of Spain campus later in 2018. When its doors are opened, the garment production facility will address several challenges facing the sector including: a. Employment for citizens – FashionTT has already conducted interviews to fill several key positions including Production Manager, Sewing Operators, Cutters, Screen Printers, Embroiderers and Sales Representatives among others. b. Access to a world class production facility – local designers will have at their fingertips a facility with state of the art equipment and can also be assured of standardized quality control. In fact, the

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facility will adopt the guidelines presented in the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards’ Garment Construction Requirements 2013 handbook which speaks to manufacturing standards on a national and international level. c. Fulfilling orders locally and regionally – local designers will now be able to meet the demands for bulk orders from their clients in a timely and cost-effective manner. d. Reduced production costs – high quality garments for international markets can be produced at affordable prices allowing designers to increase sales and profits. e. Continuous sector growth – meeting market demands means increased business opportunities. This production facility will contribute to the long-term sustainability of Trinidad and Tobago’s fashion industry through revenue generation and job creation. f. Increasing export activities – this will be done in two ways: by enabling local designers to fulfil their own export orders and by producing garments for regional designers who access the facility for their manufacturing needs.

ULTRA BESPOKE TAILORING PROGRAMME

FashionTT, in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Savile Row Academy, began its one-year Certificate Programme in Bespoke

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Tailoring, Pattern Drafting, Cutting and Fitting in March 2018. The main objective of this programme is to provide specialist skills through an intensive training programme which will enable designers to progress into employment on the highest levels of tailoring within the fashion related industries and increase the number of highly skilled bespoke tailors in the country. On a macro level, the programme will enable the tailoring sector in Trinidad and Tobago to flourish through its association with such a well-respected brand as Savile Row Academy, thereby encouraging acceptance into global markets, the growth of the fashion industry through the export of products by the skilled designers and an increase in contribution to the Gross domestic product. • Business of Fashion Workshops FashionTT hosts a series of workshops to educate local designers on how to strategically manage their businesses to achieve desired results and revenue. Each participant is equipped with a heightened understanding of business processes to which they can apply to their own business practices to positively affect their revenue and export ability. The result is continued growth of the fashion industry which, in turn, contributes meaningfully to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). • French Caribbean Inward Buyers Mission In 2015, fourteen local designers showcased their creations for eight buyers from Martinique


and Guadeloupe and after two days of b2b meetings, all designers successfully obtained orders for their products to be sold in boutiques and retail outlets in the French Caribbean market. The Inward Buyers Mission was a stepping stone for local designers to showcase their talent, establish export relationships and penetrate the global fashion industry.

Major Outcomes to Date • In 2018, the number of local designers participating in the Value Chain Investment Programme increased by over 400%; from 29 in 2016 to 120 today. • In 2018, 3 designers were selected for the Global Value Chain tier of the VCIP and will undergo a 3-year training programme – Meiling, Charu Lochan Dass and Ecliff Elie. Upon conclusion, they will each be ready to export their products to international markets. • In 2017, designers of the Value Chain Investment Programme (VCIP) saw an increase in sales, some of up to 80%. • 28 established and aspiring tailors are currently receiving certified training through the Ultra Bespoke Tailoring Programme • Since FashionTT’s establishment in 2013, over 200 unique designers have attended FashionTT’s Business of Fashion Workshops. • In 2015, FashionTT held an Inward Buyers Mission which facilitated the meeting of local designers and regional buyers. This resulted in 360 orders valued in excess of$110,000 being placed. For More Information:

For More Information: Visit our website www.fashiontt.co.tt Email info@fashion.co.tt and request to be added to our mailing list. Call +1-886-622-1455. Follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube @fashionoftt

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Headpieces: Alejandro Gomez Scarves worn as belts: Koral Beach Boutique

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Shirts: Rhion Romany Dresses: Bene Caribe Earrings: Statement Accessories TT

Batik printed scarves worn as dress: Bene Caribe Blazer: RoseMarie Moralles Earrings: Willow and Oak

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Batik printed scarves worn as dress: Bene Caribe Blazer: RoseMarie Moralles Pants: Anya Ayoung-Chee Scarves worn as belts: Bene Caribe Earrings and Bangles: Willow and Oak

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Kimonos: SHOPSHARI Scarves worn as belts: Koral Beach Boutique Choker: Spirit of Naiad

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Shirts: Rhion Romany Dresses: Bene Caribe Earrings: Statement Accessories TT

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Kimonos: SHOPSHARI Scarf worn as belt: Koral Beach Boutique Necklace: Spirit of Naiad

Scarves worn as belts: Koral Beach Boutique

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Top: Rhion Romany Pants: Bene Caribe Bangles: Willow and Oak Drink Lounge & Bistro

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WOODBROOK IS AN ECLECTIC MIX OF OLD AND NEW TRINIDAD. WITH ITS HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE, THE TOWN NOW FEATURES AN ABUNDANCE OF BARS, RESTAURANTS AND NIGHTLIFE AND THUS, HAS BEEN DUBBED THE LIMING CAPITAL OF THE COUNTRY. THIS EDITORIAL CELEBRATES THE SPIRIT AND VIBRANCE OF THIS CULTURAL HUB - A STAPLE FOR ANYONE VISITING THE ISLAND.

Creative Director: YANNICK GIBSON (@yarnes08) Stylist: SAFIA ALI (@safi.elena) Styling Assistant: ELENA MARQUEZ (@elenamarquez) Photographer: MARLON JAMES (@moderndaycaveman) Model: EMMA ANDREWS (@emz_gemz) Moko Jumbie: MEKHAI WEEKES OF 1000 MOKOS (@1000Mokos)

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ON MOKO Shirt: Rhion Romany Sunglasses: Sanianitos ON MODEL Headscarf: Bene Caribe Top: SHOPSHARI Pants: Geopa Designs Earrings: Cocoa Vintage

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Dress: Koral Beach Boutique Collection Necklace & Choker: Spirit of Naiad Earrings: Indian Expo Brooklyn Bar

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Suit: Idlewood Bespoke Lace Bodysuit: Koral Beach Boutique Choker & Bracelets: Spirit of Naiad Drink Lounge & Bistro

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Dress: Lisa See Tai Earring: Willow & Oak Bangles: Spirit of Naiad

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STYLEWEEK PORT OF SPAIN FASHION & BUSINESS

OVERVIEW:

Styleweek Port-of-Spain was launched by Coco Velvet International Fashion & Model Management CVI in 2014 at NAPA Hotel Lobby and the Trinidad Country Club. The major objective of the annual fashion week is to provide a marketing platform for T&T fashion designers to launch their Christmas-toCarnival, Spring/Summer and Resort collections to an audience of fashion retail buyers, boutique owners, fashion stylists and the fashion press. Styleweek also provides an opportunity to recognize fashion industry pioneers for their dedicated service; in 2014 fashion designers Heather Jones, Claudia Pegus and Meiling were honoured. Richard Young, Jacqui Koon How and

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Sharon Imbert received their awards at the 2015 edition at Queen’s Hall. Miss Universe 1998 Wendy Fitzwilliam received her Styleweek Fashion Industry Pioneer award at Haute Holidays 2017 at the Falls at West Mall. Noted T&T fashion stylist Peter Elias will receive the Styleweek Fashion Industry Pioneer Award 2018 on Day 2 at NAPA Auditorium. Coco Velvet is partnering with Fashion Focus Ltd for the 2018 edition; Mr. Michael Christopher - Fashion Focus Managing Director will coordinate all aspects of the Styleweek Fashion Market at NAPA Port-ofSpain and there will be free-to-the-public periodic catwalk presentations in the market over the threeday fashion festival.


STYLEWEEK & TOP MODEL TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 2018 TICKETS ARE ON SALE: 212 Location/Blaanix Stores (nationwide) Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre NAPA Box Office For more information: visit www.styleweekportofspain.com Instagram @cocovelvetinternational Facebook at Caribbean Resort Styleweek Port-of-Spain or contact Coco Velvet International directly at +1-868-620-2316

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An industry seminar is usually held during fashion week to allow stakeholders to network and receive valuable information related to their respective areas of interest. This year Coco Velvet will focus on the development of a viable fashion modeling industry in Trinidad & Tobago as we see tremendous potential in this lucrative niche market. Each continent/region has a major fashion capital except the Caribbean & Central America and many of the fashion capitals such as Sao Paulo, Milan, New York, Stockholm and Moscow built successful fashion centres on the success of their modeling industries. We at Coco Velvet are committed to doing our part to develop Port-ofSpain into the region’s fashion hub and a reputable fashion modeling talent hotspot; as such we have hosted an annual workshop for secondary school students who are interested in pursuing careers in the creative industries. Thus far our summer fashion workshops have provided initial training for over 1000 teens in areas such as fashion design, fashion styling, visual merchandising, hair styling, barbering, make up artistry and of course professional fashion modeling. The CVI Professional Fashion Model Workshops have so far spawned ten international models including Naomi Chin Wing, Crystal Noreiga, Soowan Bramble, Michelene Auguste, Kai Leggard, Fallon Cabral, Dominique Armorer and Paul-Robert Pryce.

The model trainees from the CVI Fashion Workshop will join the cast of professional runway models to showcase Styleweek ready-towear collections on Day 1 and Day 2. Twenty male and female model trainees will compete for 10 international modeling contracts courtesy Elite Latin & South America ELSA at the Grand Finale of Top Model Trinidad & Tobago contest on October 14th 2018 at NAPA Port-ofSpain. Coco Velvet is delighted to announce that Trinidad & Tobago’s first internationally successful supermodel Teresa Lourenco will return to Port-of-Spain to sit on Top Model TT Panel alongside past winners Crystal Noreiga and Naomi Chin Wing. Alta Moda A panel discussion/seminar will precede the Top Model Trinidad & Tobago contest; Alta Moda will focus on the requirements and dynamics of international modeling. This modeling industry seminar/workshop will be facilitated by representatives from IMG Model Management Worldwide, Select Model Management London, Elite Latin & South America ELSA and Coco Velvet International Fashion & Model Management.

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TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

WHO WILL

RISE

TO THE TOP?

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE TOP MODEL T&T BY TEXTING YOUR CHOICE TO 2015 FINALISTS 2018 FEMALE

Candace Alfonso CODE: CAF

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FINALISTS 2018 MALE

Cadel Chin Wing CODE: CCW

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Sean Thompson CODE: SET

GRAND FINALE:

OCTOBER 14, 2018 NAPA, PORT OF SPAIN www.styleweekportofspain.com

bmobile.co.tt Voting period: 11th September to 13th October. Each text costs $2.00.

LIFE IS ON


Dress & Tulle: Sheniece James Stockings: Micles


LUCID When vivid dreams pierce reality.

Photographer: Melvern Isaac IG: @melvernisaac Fashion Stylist & Creative Director: Keziah Lendor IG: @kezstylesinc MUA: Tricia Blaise-Fergus IG: @facebyblaise Model: Tabitha Roberts Retoucher: Notnormal Retouching IG: @notnormalretouch


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Shirt: Forward Forty for Meiling Garter: Sheniece James Stockings: Micles

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Shirt: Fluorescent Black Belt: The Cloth Stockings: Micles

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Crop Top: Meiling Bustier Belt: Fluorescent Black Stockings: Micles

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Tops: Sheniece James Pants: Kalois

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Tops: Sheniece James

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Dress: Sheniece James Stockings: Micles

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A RISKY & UNEXPECTED UNDERTAKING: What it’s like for these two Trini creatives, living in New York Aisling Camps has a sheer panel that runs across the top half of her shower curtain, so that in the event a murderer comes for her while she’s in there, she won’t be taken completely by surprise. She can see them first and act accordingly. This see-through partition also acts as a window so we don’t need to break eye contact while she bathes, and I sit on the couch. I guess you can say we have become quite close. I begin to interview her like this, about life in New York as an independent fashion designer from Trinidad and Tobago. We have so much in common, and I probably did not need my notebook and pencil, to be able to make sense of her responses. I totally relate. Also, it is not the first time that I have

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Words By Stephanie Ramlogan; a freelance Trinidadian writer, and Blogger at NoMoreFashionVictims.com Also Trinbagonian born and raised, Aisling Camps is an independent luxury knitwear designer for her self-titled label. Formerly professional acquaintances back home, both women now live within less than a mile radius of one another, in Brooklyn, New York.

written about her, so I already know a lot of what she would say. This time however, her optimism is prominent. Before, she was kind of losing her mind. The only difference is that these days, she’s in love, and her contentment with her personal life has set the tone for everything else. People ask me all the time about living and working in NYC. The dream! I feel the envy and read between the lines when they ask about how I got my application approved. How was I able to make this happen in less than a year, when so many others have been waiting for almost a decade? I understand. For Aisling, after University here and a short deportation-like situation, it was the Green Card lottery. For me, it was a Visa. No shortcuts


or favours. Amazing, yes. Grateful, absolutely. But don’t think that we’re here raking it in and “making it”. We’ve had to re-evaluate our concepts for success and failure around personal experiences and no longer around career goals, or else there is no way we could wake up in the morning to keep grinding. This is not easy at all.

“Money is the challenge here.” Aisling says to me when she finally puts some clothes on and sits still for a few minutes. “I’ll have way more security home in Trinidad. But my definition of failure would be having a safe life and wondering, “What if?” So why leave? Could we not have stayed in the Caribbean, enjoying a much easier cost of living for two non-white creative entrepreneurs, with enough forests and waterfalls to fuel our desire for thrill and discovery? Sometimes I do wonder if all of this were in vain, and going back home would just be smarter, but I can never complete the thought. I know why I’m here and it’s not about being rich and famous. It’s a soul thing- a connection. Aisling feels it too.

“ I WANT ADVENTURE”

she begins.

“I didn’t want to be a part of that sameness. They don’t want to do anything different. Almost all my friendships failed at home except those with my immediate family. I always felt more accepted in New York. You could be a weirdo and not have to conform. In Trinidad, you would be punished for that.”

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My knee jerk reaction was to defend our roots. The Caribbean is home! Yet, when I peel back my defensiveness about the place that birthed us, I do agree with her. I felt I found my tribe in New York from the first day I ever visited here. I didn’t feel the constant pressure to explain or sensor myself. I found that saying “Yes” to things was easy and exciting. At home, I lived a lonely life. Most of my friends moved into marriage and motherhood, with jobs and careers that afforded them the luxury of no longer relating to my sad state of affairs. My social life was dull. My relationship was dying a very slow, very dragged out long death. Creatively, I was too controversial and misunderstood a lot of the time. I just was not happy. Aisling has lived in New York for years; way longer than I have, and she has grown much more comfortable with this awareness. I still battle with my choice of words when it comes to the dichotomy of living between either place. I would never want to seem like I’m shitting on Trinidad; when it is my Trinidadianness that makes me so loved here. “I don’t want to be a Naipaul” She explains, when she says she knows she comes across as arrogant. “I know what I want and if it rubs you the wrong way then fuck off.” She gets up and moves over to her dress form, where she suddenly starts knotting hanging yarns from a bodice she knitted, performing a very Caribbeannish macrame pattern complete with cowrie shells. “Some Trinis might take this personally, saying I think I’m better than them, but it’s about me. I will always make insecure people uncomfortable.”

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“Do you think you’ll stay here forever, then?” I ask her, watching her get more engrossed in her design. “Yes.” She replies easily, before delving into how New York also has its downfalls. She reenforces sentiments I’ve realised coming here myself. Surviving here requires a lot of fluidity and resilience; you have to be ready to constantly adapt in what Aisling describes as the “Self-promoting Olympics”. Grounding yourself is a necessity, and this has been one of the greatest contributions that our island upbringing has given to us.

“New York makes you neurotic. You have to be around real people to bring you back to earth. I was guilty of not paying enough attention to my friends. Going home taught me to ignore the noise and to be a better friend again. Being home got me to refine my human skills.”


“How does being from the Caribbean make you different here?”

“I HAVE AH ACCENT.”

She laughs.

Then after a short pause, she adjusts the bodysuit she’s wearing (her own work) and estimates how much side-boob she thinks looks best in the ensemble. “It injects sex into my work” Case and point; said side-boob exposing bodysuit. “I’m not a Carnival baby, but that shit gets into your soul.” I can’t write fast enough to keep up now, while she weaves words in and out, around how she should have shortened the straps on the design and then jumps to something about “Good West Indian Discipline”. What I don’t miss though, is a clear sense of appreciation for being from our culture. It is our warmth and sweaty, fleshy humanness that feed us with the persistence to live in this restless new place. When I moved here officially, I only viewed apartments within 20 minutes walking distance of Aisling’s. While we come off tough; and we are, we need more than booming careers

to keep us afloat. I need her; to hear her accent, her points of reference, her stories, her presence. Neither of us is here to work. We’re here to live. We’re here to feel belonging. Someone close to me recently estimated that I was “Failing” and should return home. “Failing”? Hmph. In this period, I have had the least I’ve ever had in terms of money and things. It has also been the happiest I’ve ever been. Aisling and I sat next to each other at a Caribbean bar in Williamsburg a few nights ago, knocking glasses to what we’ve made for ourselves. We may be basically broke, but we’re living an actual dream. Anything can happen at any time.

“Adventure” is the word we both use over and over again. I looked it up; “A risky and unexpected undertaking.” What a perfect word to describe our transition into New York.

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s ta r r y

Nights WARDROBE | Noir By Nissa (@noirbynissa_official) MUAs | Katrina Laydoo (@katrinalaydoo) and Ladonna Kong (@ldk_mua) from The MUA House HAIR | Kerry Mohammed STYLING | Little Black Dress & Co. (@littleblackdresstt) PHOTOGRAPHY | Anthony Scully (@scullyphoto) LOCATION | Santorini Beauty Bar (@santorinibeautybar) ASSISTANCE | Daniella Lopez MODELS | Cherise Couri @cherisecouri , Micki Lee Qui @mickileequi, Gabriella Bernard @gabriellabernard, Amy Inglefield @suitcasesandstilettos

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CALVIN FRENCH Esteemed fashion photographer, model, producer, visionary and pioneer in all elements of the local creative industry.

GREGORY MILLS Master Tailor and premier academic on menswear in the Caribbean, he is one-half of the whole Millhouse brand that has made an indelible mark on the local garment sector.

GREGORY ADAM SINGH Stage producer, performer, costume designer and playwright, he helped to get the local industry moving in a significant way.

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LEGENDS

REMEMBERING THE PIONEERS


STUDIO


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CREATIVE COMMUNITY ADRIAN FOSTER

ADRIAN WILSON

A-LAN SWIM

RTW Women’s Clothing

Women’s Clothing

@officiallyadrianfoster

CAFD / UTT Student of the Year 2017 @adrianwilsonml

BHOWRAM ATELIER

CHARU LOCHAN DASS

CHRISTIAN BOUCAUD

Women’s Clothing

Women’s Clothing

Women’s Clothing

@bhowramatelier

@charulochandass

@christianboucaud

CLAUDIA PEGUS

DAWW CREATIONS

DEISHA DARE DESIGNS

Women’s Clothing

Men’s Clothing

Fashion & Art

@claudiapegusdesigns

@dawwcreations

@deishadaredesigns

DEITY 868

HAPPY CURLS HAPPY GIRLS

HOUSE OF KATHY SALON

Handmade Accessories & Jewelry @deity868_

Hair Products

Beauty Salon

@happycurlshappygirlstt

@houseofkathysalon

IMMORTELLE BEAUTY

J.ANGELIQUE CLOTHING

KALEEN SANOIS

Beauty & Skin Care

Women’s Clothing

Women’s Clothing

@immortellebeauty

@designerjangelique

@kalois

@a_lanswim

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CREATIVE COMMUNITY

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LISA SEE TAI

M.A.C DESIGNS

MEILING

Women’s Clothing

Lifestyle Clothing Brand

Lifestyle Brand

@lisaseetaidesign

@m.a.cdesigns

@meilinginc

MIMI KURUKA

NEHA KARINA

NWANNIA SORZANO

Graphic Tees

Women’s Clothing

Urban Clothing

@bhowramatelier

@nehakarina.official

@nwannia

SANIANITOS

SEAFRINA

SHAUN GRIFFITH PEREZ

Accessories

Women’s Clothing

Lifestyle Clothing Brand

@sanianitos

@seafrina_

@shaun.griffith.perez

SHIBHUE CARIBBEAN

THE BOW COMPANY

THE LUSH KINGDOM

Women’s Accessories

Male Accessories

Lifestyle Clothing Brand

@shibhuecaribbean

@_thebowcompany_

@lushcaribe

THE 1NDIVIDUAL AESTHETIC

VIVRE BY CHELSEA

WADADA MOVEMENT

Lifestyle Clothing Brand

Women’s Clothing

Lifestyle Clothing Brand

@1ndividual

@vivrebychelsea

@wadadamovement

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Profile for Ayrïd Chandler

Fashion Focus Magazine Issue 5  

Fashion Focus Magazine Issue 5  

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