..That awkward moment when you've realised that you treated your wedding like it were an urban design/ master planning project... I CLEARLY need a life! #moreissuesthanvogue #thearchitectstruggle.
Anyway, I'm so happy to share these photos. What it all boiled down to was that Veer and I simply wanted love to be in the air on our day- it was in the air, the grass, the trees the flowers, the rain, the food, the port-a-potties.... ;)
Our memories of that day are filled with joy and goosebumps! To all the couples out there who are struggling with your wedding planning, the one piece of advice I feel urged to share is make sure your day reflects YOUR love.
P.S. No, we do not have any umbrellas left.. our guests are ALL hooligans.
Wedding Planner: Tricia Ng A Mann
Venue: Drew Manor
Floral Arrangements: The Flower Bar
Dance Floor : NOW Concepts + Ultimate Events Ltd
Set Up: Ultimate Events Ltd + The Party + Co. TT
Decor : Bouge Events Ltd
Cake: Jaime Gerard
Photography : Julie Charlett Photography + Sam Jackson Photography
When I was in Convent I’d beg my friends to let me me cut + layer their hair…with totally inappropriate scissors... It would take anywhere from hours to days of convincing but eventuallyyy they’d let me. I mean it was a pretty sweet deal. For one it was free, and for two it was hella convenient- from the comfort of your own desk! All I had to do was score my first cut and use that poor soul as bait for the rest. It was an easy enough sell. Of course, it was probably the worst cut of their lives but at the time I swore they looked FLY!
Fast forward 7 years to November 2014 and I’m begging them to let me design their Monday Wear for carnival 2015. I was able to convince about 11 of …us (myself, my sister and 3 cousins included) – all they had to pay for was the fabric and the labour and I took care of the rest! It was a sweet deal barring the risk of my immaturity.
I think I should mention that I still can’t rationalise the motive behind my desire in 2007 to offer and perform free hair cuts and similarly why I decided to design and project manage free Monday Wear services in 2015. I’m weird and I’m totally comfortable with that conclusion. Somewhere in those 7/8 years (specifically during my time at THE U) I chose to refine rather than stifle my weirdness. I go with instinct. So I ran with LN Monday Wear 2015 and my 11 “clients”.
Nothing about LN MW 2015 was monetarily profitable (in fact I probably lost a few hundos). It was stressful, tricky, nerve wracking but I loved it. I learned so much about my friends, myself, the fashion scene in TnT and fashion in general. It was like a thesis study, the end product of which would be 11 costumes. I loved the almost instant gratification of seeing something I planned and designed come to life. My life in the profession of architecture is often not as instantaneous- this was refreshing.
So came LN MW 2016. I decided this year that I’d try to turn this Monday Wear “hobby” into a small business. It wasn’t my plan to make money but to break even, knowing I’d need to put whatever I earned back into the business for marketing purposes.
I’d take on 25 clients max. I’d work on 5 designs, shoot them all professionally, produce a physical booklet, invest time and money on branding, packaging + high quality fabrics and sell a ‘tailored to you service’.
Within 2 weeks I’d reached my goal of 25 clients- I was thrilled.
Crazily enough, the processes discussed above were the easy part. Production + Pleasing- the two Ps, were a bloody Pursuit (or Pain?) ….. and I’m a Perfectionist. My amazing seamstress lived in Sangre Grande, so there was that. My fabric all came from New York and for some CRAZY reason the import tax on fabric - an almost raw material, is the same as it is on clothes!!! Let me not get started on that injustice.
It is known in the Fashion Industry that one of our major set backs is the difficulty of production and the impossibility of mass production in Trinidad. Even on my teeny tiny tinyyy scale in 2016, I felt it.
Pleasing my clients is a must. I had one client- of my 30 (I opened up spots for 5 more people as I had enough fabric) that wasn’t happy in the end with her piece and it REALLY upset me. I felt like I did everything that I could to get it where she wanted but it just didn’t work out. I felt like LN MW 2016 failed. Then Trinidad Lookbook (now Caribbean LookBook), wrote me asking to feature my line on her blog as a post titled “The Monday Wear They Don’t Want You To Have”. I was honoured! Soon after, I got a call from Anya Ayoung Chee’s boutique “HOME” saying that they loved my pieces and wanted to have some in store. I really couldn’t believe it! Finally came the road reviews. My happy clients looked stunning and graced the pages of all sorts of social media! I was like... hmm.. maybe I’m not a huge failure after all?
LN MW 2017 was a must and I was ready to take it up a notch. I decided to take on 40 clients- MAX! I worked on a few designs over the course of 2 months and finalised on 6 that I wanted to shoot. With Ikenna Douglas, Melissa Yung, Nikitha Cornwall and Savanna Wharton- Lake in hand we shot for hours. We knew we’d got something good. I created a website on Squarespace (super easy to use) and- again with my amateurism- decided to launch the line online!
I awoke the next morning to hundreds of emails.
Savanna, a sister/friend of mine convinced me to take on at least 80 clients. I decided to hire her as my assistant and it was the best decision I made. She dealt with the emails, accounting, the registration, customer service, the running around and to some extent—me. It gave me the ability to handle production, marketing, packaging. I worked with 3 seamstresses- the coordination effort was real.
My clients ranged in personality from the easy going to the totally finicky (for the record I’m pretty finicky so I totally understand finicky...love that word ..finicky). I had clients from up the islands, from the UK and the US- of all shapes and sizes. My list of 80 grew close to 100 by the time carnival rolled around.
THEN, tragic STRUCK!
I had a particularly troublesome section that nearly killed me (sequined fabric that stretches 2 ways is gorgeous but deadly- lesson learned!), but I was determined to make each of my clients happy. After several sleepless nights (my poor newlywed husband had a rough first week of marriage), we were able to satisfy almost everyone.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that many women see their Monday Wear (and Tuesday Wear) as though it were their wedding dress. They dream of it. They envision themselves in their costume on the road for months and if the reality of this vision is anything less than perfect, it crushes them. I get it.
In the end I had to refund 2 of my 100 clients. As in 2016, this really, really got to me. I felt like I'd let them down. I was cloaked in that horrible feeling of failure.
Then came the road, seeing my clients in “real life” and on social media express their joy and shine in their pieces was fantastic. Another surge of emails came in, a mix of client thank yous and preregistration queries for 2018!
Somewhere in that list were emails from both Paris Fashion Week and World Fashion Week inviting me to have my work featured on their runways! I’d also gotten messages ranging from people like Machel Montano’s Manager to writers at MACO (name droppin’ --- hayy!).
It’s so easy for us to dwell on the negatives and kill ourselves over what went wrong and what we coulda-shoulda-woulda have done better, but the reality is (and I constantly have to remind myself of this), mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.
As Albert Einstein says “the only source of knowledge is experience.”
2018 is going to be a bit different and it's going to be LN MW’s absolute best year yet.
Loooong story short- thank you for letting me zog-up your hair friends. I luh you.
For my husband, Veer..
These 3 cites couldn't be any more different but they all somehow unite in their refined beauty and their deep appreciation of both history and culture. You can always get the feel of a city and its people by reading its architecture. I couldn't help but whip out my camera at every possible moment -Poor Veer! *hides face*
Unfortunately it was freezing cold in Euro-Town so these photos came at the sacrifice of my numb fingertips (yes I wore gloves).
Anyway, I could go on and on but it's best that I the mic. over to them... take it away guys!
To the honeymoon of a lifetime
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve read or heard the statement “there’s really no creativity in bikini + beads mas”, and it always ruffles my…...... feathers. This is my attempt to set the record straight. According to Google ‘creativity’ is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. So, with this refresher in mind, what I think people really mean to proclaim is that there’s little complexity in bikini + beads mas (still false in my opinion but certainly a more bearable argument).
So, I decided to sort of document my design process this year as I truly believe that this popular thinking comes from a place of not actually knowing what goes into the production of a costume; whether it be rhinestones patterned on fabric or a swan floating seamlessly on stilts.
For me it all starts with a feeling. I really wanted to create a piece that made the wearer feel both provocative + powerful. Maintaining this feeling I flew to NYC and visited Hai’s Trimming – let me tell you, this store is like gem/ trimming/ appliqué/ feather HEAVEN. Here I spent hours searching for THE gem that would understand my vibe!! Many full-time designers actually have Hai's produce a gem specifically for their costume and after 5 hours of searching I felt as though I was going to have to go down that path.
I literally was about to leave the store when my eyes fell on this pearl trimming, talk about YASS! It was perfect (..$38.00 USD per yard, which is out of control expensive when designing for mass production- but perfect). It was both shimmer + lace and provocative + powerful. From there I restarted my search, found a corner on a display table in Hai’s and basically camped out until I found a combination that made sense to me. A few days later I was back in Trinidad with a suitcase of gems (and one or two or three personal items from Zara, Aldo + Toyshop.... + Sephora) and a sketch which captured this vibe that I’d been working off of.
Red is notorious for being a hard sell within the industry and I quickly realised why. It was the only colour that would truly take me to an intensely provocative level. It overshadowed all of the other gems, no matter the ratio/arrangement but I just couldn’t shake my pull to it.
RED is a D I V A! - Hello!
It demands attention and really doesn’t want to be complimented or competed with.
I always start with the bra, it’s the nucleus of my design. I redid this bra from wire go down several times because of that damn RED DIVA! She got her way in the end and I was able to stay true my sketch + feeling. Once the bra was complete everything else feel into place and IncREDible was born.
I would argue that though my costume designs are full of gems and feathers they do not lack imagination; the complexity comes in expressing an emotion within today’s extreme parameters. It takes me approximately 2 months to finally bring a design that I have sketched to life (this is not typical/standard; some full time designers can work something out in a couple of days but full time I’m an architect). Many hands are involved in this process from fabric and gem manufacturers in New York to the wire benders and seamstresses here at home.
I am totally + fully aware that Carnival has changed drastically over the years. In my opinion it is no longer a parade and therefore no longer a spectator event. It is now an enormous fete in the streets of Port of Spain where the costume to many is of little importance and the focus on enjoyment of one’s self is priority. The majority of costumes are in fact gems and feathers because it is literally the coolest type of costume to party in. We’ve seen men wear short pants alone (like my husband- ah shame). I can only speak for myself of course, but my designs are very conscious of the desires of today’s masquerader who loves both glamour and fashion.
I think it is because we are still struggling as a culture with the stark difference between traditional mas and the mas of today. We’re victims of circumstance. I think that once we realize the difference between the two types and separate them into two categories of traditional and popular, today’s mas can properly be appreciated.
Yes, some ‘popular’ costumes are genuinely just feathers and beads, but there are many costumes that show true workmanship, complexity and beautiful collaboration.
This is sort of awks but is the rhyme "red red yuh pee yuh bed" now stuck in your head as well? Damn RED.
Wikipedia tells us that a wedding is a marriage ceremony typically followed by a celebration, what Wikipedia doesn’t explain is WHY the eff they are so expensive. I’m not saying that I didn’t think they were expensive; I’m saying never in my wildest dreams did I think that they were SO expensive.
After the confetti had hit the ground following the yaaays, eeeeks, omgees, cry face- cry-face-single-pulsing-red-hearts of our engagement- reality comes out of hiding with a big, fat, dollar sign infused SLAP. As the planning progressed I literally found myself wanting to ask every married person that I ran into, “Soo…How much did your wedding cost you...in total? - I’m asking for a friend….”
At the risk of shame, I googled a lot and made tonnes of calls to suppliers and vendors. The best piece of advice that I can give is this; establish a budget as soon as possible and be the most decisive version of yourself – ever. With planning comes the responsibility of making a million decisions.
For me, the wedding dress decision was one of the biggest. I can’t say it was my dream to wear a Berta dress on my wedding day (in fact I never even dreamt about my wedding dress), but I can openly say I was dying to try one on. I’m one-part brand whore one-part logic. I spent ages devouring images of Berta and Galia Lahav dresses. Eye candy-city on one hundred.
After a few months, the brand whore in me decided she wanted to wear a Berta dress. The logic in me decided that I am creative and resourceful enough to design and make my dress in Trinidad. So the battle of the parts was on. With my best friend Victoria, mother, sister and Nissa of Little Black Dress Trinidad in hand, we flew to New York to dress v.s. fabric shop.
Ding. Ding. Ding.
At L’Fay Bridal in NYC I went to heaven trying on dress after dress, attaching ‘this veil’ or ‘that cape’, ‘this belt’ or ‘that tiara’. It was real fun but I kept thinking to myself I’ve seen these dresses so many times on social media. It wasn’t as awe inspiring as I’d mentally hyped it up to be. I was desensitized. I mean, I didn’t even cry.
Anyway, we debated dress after dress. Then we asked for prices.
$10,000 USD for the dress.
$1000 USD for the cape.
$67,192.00 TTD for the dress.
$6,719.20 TTD for the cape.
So we said au revoir to L’Fay and hello to 37th St. Four months later (with lots of help from my mom and our San Fernando based seamstress) I’d this sort of vintage, sort of eclectic dress with a classic silhouette, in sweet sweet T&T- it was perfect for me.
The Fabric came up to about $800 USD and the labour was $2500.00 TTD, a total of $7,884.55 TTD.
Moral of the story- elope.
HUGE thank you to Nissa Hanooman for your unwavering consultation and for my amazing party kit!
Photos by Julie Charlett Photography + Sam Jackson Photography
A Beast of Beautiful Proportions.
When looking at a monster our instincts are interesting. Some of us cringe, others dash-whey, some want to hurt it, even kill it- but do we ever really REALLY want to embrace it? Theres so much wrong with monsters that we're typically repulsed.
What I really question is what constitutes a monster? What makes something unattractive or even hideous? This is such a broad question that its almost impossible to answer. I've spent most of my (short) life battling with what makes something inherently beautiful and something else just - fugly.
Time after time the core issue is always the knowledge of. . .
p r o p o r t i o n ,
Merriam defines proportion as the, "harmonious relation of parts to each other to the whole" .
In fashion, photography, art, people, animals, nature, architecture - good proportion is just terribly easy on the eyes. It makes us feel at ease. I swear, if everything was just proportioned well the world would be a better place!
Lifting 43 Bengal Street was, in the main, a matter of tidying up and exemplifying her best proportions. This is the case of many of our fallen buildings in Trinidad. There is almost always something beautiful to work with- it's just a matter of seeing.
Here's how I came to s e e the beauty in the beast. x
Full collection launches October 23rd 2016
A shoutout in the latest MACO People!?
we are honoured!
View the latest copy online HERE. XX
Whether it be costumes or architecture, my creative expression requires reducing my world and emotion to a single piece. No two pieces will therefore ever be alike, and I'm happy for that.
Winged azure + Riches of the Spirit, in terms of composition welcome individual interpretation. It is always my hope that the costumes become a metaphysical + poetic link to what it's inhabitant could be. For two days a year, it is socially acceptable to be whomever we deeply desire to be. These costumes are targeted at helping you release all inhibitions.
Paris is the city of all cities. I mean... oui, oui, OUI.
A city should allow you to loose yourself and then find yourself, to navigate its streets with ease and freedom. To find exactly what you are looking for when you need it most. It must be clean but not sterile. To allow you to fixate and then detach. To be inspired by its creativity. To inspire others by yours. To reside in it, to eat with diversity of choice, to allow you to feel at home no matter what race, age,religion, financial background, sex, sexual orientation. It must allow you to grow and ultimately to push you to be the best version of yourself.
This is Paris.
And for the record I attribute this ability of Paris to Haussmann and his radical and fantastic urban planing. Primarily the design of this city has allowed it to be come what it is today. Planning is key, and sometimes radical change is necessary.
I have a lot of thought on the state of you Port-of-Spain, not to worry, I'm coming for you. One day..
P.S ; not sure why I can't think of any other title for this post but au pair..
amor, ti amo
I think that I honestly found my place in architecture during my time in Rome. The depth and synergy of expression, romance and grueling complexity that Italians work into every detail taught me to observe full consciousness in every design decision. To question myself and to study closely the work of others. To trust my judgement and to understand that my only limit is my willingness to concede.
I look back at these photos and wonder of their reality. The memory seems too incredible to be true- but true it was. There is nothing about Italy that isn't somehow fascinating, and it's urban and architectural landscape is no exception. I was based in Rome but travelled to Florence, Milan, Sicily, Genova, Venice, Murano, Mantova and Vicenza .
-Kay!..vashti out 😅 I'll let the photos do the talking. xx
“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”
― Walt Stanchfield
This was the perfect project at the perfect time. To say the least, I needed it.
Before I babble I'd like to offer some Stats and Facts.
* based on industry figures in 2014
Pre- renovation value of house: 1/10th value of property
Cost of new construction for middle income housing: approx $1000/1200 per sqft
Cost of renovation of 65 Gallus: approx $750 per sqft (inclusive of new roof)
Construction savings of renovating 65 Gallus as opposed to demolition and new construction : 25-40%
65 Gallus Street was perviously owned by a true Woodbrook family. The family had lived in the house for generations, they added on to the original square plan as they grew. It became a very linear home beginning with a porch at the front and was terminated by a mango tree to the back. There were no hallways, you moved from room to room, through room to room. The house celebrated entry, and community with its elegant facade and willingness to communicate with its neighbours. She was part of a true 'front porch culture'. She also spoke of a different time, where privacy didn't exist. There were no locks on bedroom doors, no air-conditions in rooms, no choice but to sit together for lunch and dinner.
She was originally built in the late 1800's and is a testimony to the utility, durability and beauty of the colonial vernacular of Trinidad and Tobago. Quite romantic.
In April 2014 we were faced with the opportunity of owning 65 Gallus Street. Though the value of the house itself was literally 1/10th the value of the property, we knew that her grace was priceless.
I often wonder how Trinidadians have cultivated this adversity to anything of ours that is old.. we will gladly fly to Greece to observe the Acropolis, but most of us haven't even visited the Temple by the Sea. Why is it that our history means so little to us? Why are we so unaffected by our historic architecture that we willingly allow these gems deteriorate into eyesores + urban nuisances? Does this mentality begin to define our culture?
I wrote my thesis (.. which I should share) on defining "Trinidadian Housing" and it was SO SO SO difficult to find appropriate academic literature (honestly, thank God for John Newel Lewis' Ajoupa). We are always looking outside of our country to the greatness of others for inspiration/ meaning. I have often heard Trini's say that they want a Tuscan-esque home, or a Palladian "looking" villa with Corinthian Columns and red clay tiled roofs and a gondola out back ( I may be exaggerating a touch) ... but why??
Such designs have perfect situations in Tuscany and Rome but what makes them suitable for Trinidad? Furthermore - why do we think they are "better" or more beautiful? I refuse to believe that it is simply a matter of taste.
65 Gallus Street was in pretty bad shape when we got our hands on her, however her classical composition was immaculate. There is not much that can touch the high ceilings , cross ventilation, attic ventilation, celebration of entry and filtration of light that our historic buildings possess. So, we spent the following 7 months of 2014 reviving her. And alive she is.
Since completion we have had SUCH fantastic feedback on 65 Gallus Street. The previous owners (who were concerned that we would tear her down) were moved to tears when we had them over post completion. She has been written and spoken about and last week I was even asked to sign a photograph of her for someone's birthday (I was beyond honoured!!) !
I'd say this project was a win on pretty much all counts. Most importantly for me, as an architect whose goal is to help Trinidad find its footing in the world of architecture, I was moved by the excitement and buzz created by the revival of this "old" and truly local building.
2016 was a fabulous year for Monday wear. Monday wear is a very...Generation Y concept and it's been finding its way to revolution since we started seeing hot shorts on carnival Monday. We wear a different costume on carnival Monday simply because we can. Our minds are flooded with images hourly and our options are limitless! Why limit ourselves, therefore, when it comes to the two most dramatic days of our lives? For the vast majority of Gen Y, carnival has never been a parade- I.e a spectator event. On these two days where you simply look, feel and party your best.
MW16 was initially designed because I noticed a void in the Monday wear market. I wanted to design pieces that were elegant in the way they worked with the body of a woman to accentuate her most flattering features. Today, this quality is rare- to be elegant is to be rare. I wanted to urge women to dare to be rare!
The response and support was beyond overwhelming. The pieces proved themselves on the road and made some spontaneous appearances in clubs and parties post carnival! 😅 #versatile
I literally couldn't wait to get started on MW17!