Wednesday, 1 August 2012

An interview with fashion designer Sonia Noel..

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand?
I am from a little village in the Essequibo River in Guyana called Bartica. I am a mother of two daughters Shontay and Mariska, of whom the line is named after. Mariska's Designs is celebrating 15 years this year.

I must say that my vision for a Caribbean fashion industry has garnered momentum over the years and I am now part of a wider, shared, regional, networking philosophy that is rapidly growing. My preoccupation with unique textile design gives me an edge:
 -- my peculiar tie-dye techniques
-- my unique seed, bead, wood and bamboo collage art
-- my special applique practices
-- my novel shearing and stripping of fabric to layer on fabric rendering another look and feel to the fabric texture
-- my fascination with earth tones, sand beige, mustard, taupe, chocolate, olive and natural fibres.
-- my use of craft adds value and certainly embellished and adorns simple fabric surfaces
-- black and white ensembles have also become my staple for I love this basic juxtaposition which I feel creates a most striking and lasting impression.  

Being the first Caribbean fashion designer to be invited to Brown’s University to do a presentation on Caribbean fashion was a great honour. In 2011 the British Virgin Islands Fashion Week presented me with the Caribbean Fashion Ambassador Award. I also received the Shabeau Magazine, Pride of Bartica and the GMSA Awards for my involvement in youth development and cross borders promotion of fashion. I have participated in Caribbean Fashion Week, St. Kitts Fashion Week, FWTT, Tobago Fashion Week, USVI Fashion week, Antigua Independence Fashion Weekend and some other fashion showcase in the Caribbean and the Diaspora. My work has been featured in .Shabeau, She Caribbean, Caribbean Belle, Caribbean Style, Caribbean Bride, Posh Caribbean, Paramaribo Post, African Roots, Gem Magazine, Apsara Magazine, Pride (London), Smooth and Sister 2 Sister in New York. I recently launched the Sonia Noel Foundation for the Creative Arts. The mission of SNFCA is to create access for talented individuals, not only in Guyana, its home base, but through the wider Caribbean. It is hoped that through this medium an avenue for the development of the creative industries, so relevant to current socio-economic life chance, be fostered.
What would you consider to be your career highlight de date?
Being able to successfully stage 5 years of Guyana fashion Weekend and 4 years Guyana Model Search Designers Portfolio and have causes such as Domestic Violence, HIV/AIDS and the environment. Helping to develop the industry through nurturing young talent is certainly the highlight of my career.

What pieces of your collection did you enjoy designing the most?

My intricate lattice work concept with the bamboo incorporated into the fabric. It is partly inspired by the beautiful architecture that still exists in Guyana.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Apart from God I get my inspiration from my surroundings which include the flora and fauna. I recalled once I was travelling up the Essequibo River and looking at the lush vegetation, the waves splashing against the boat and the sprinkles on my face I came up with the concept for my FWTT collection. HYBIRD - The line paid tribute to the vegetation of Guyana with special reference to the undergrowth, swamp and savannah
lands, where a variety of foliage and flora live symbiotically. From this inspiration, I played with many green lush hues and posed aubergine, lilac, mauve and purple shades to depict the forest interplay of botanical life yet celebrating the natural coexistence of
varying species of plant life.

What are your favourite fabrics/colours to work with?

I love working with natural fibres. Earth tones which are timeless and black & white can be manipulated into some creative and exotic concepts which can leave a lasting impression.

What are some of your fashion goals?

On a personal note I would love to have my brand available in every Caribbean country and beyond. Also to contribute in a positive way toward the building of the Caribbean Fashion industry and for us to be recognised as part of the wider fashion industry.

How would you describe your own personal style?

When it comes to my personal style I always think out of the box from my hair style to my attire. It is a reflection of my personality.  
I love feminine flair, flowing skirts, making grand entrances and fashion which creates a stir and tells a dramatic story.

If you could work with any other designer who would it be?

If I had the chance to work with another designer it will be Robert Young because he is super talented and has a great understanding of the Caribbean aesthetic as it relates to fashion.

What kind of woman wears your designs?

My designs appeal to a wide cross-section of tastes, personalities and body types. I dress the woman who wants to be comfortable, cool and cavalier. I believe in utilizing breathing fabrics - cotton, voiles, linens, and silks, to express my Caribbean fashion sense. I design clothing from the beach to the ball room and also design clothing for men.

How does it feel to be showcasing in London during the 2012 Olympics?

I feel very honoured and blessed to be part of the delegation going to London. I must mention that the developmental work CEDA is doing for the Caribbean fashion  can put us a great position in the industry and I am very appreciative.

Where can we learn more about your designs?

You can learn more about my designs on my Facebook page and where shopping will be available soon.


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