Iconic Antiguan Sugar Mill Factory Inspires Young Designer's Showcase in Trinidad

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Last Sunday, Launesha Barnes, a student at the Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design (CAFD), University of Trinidad and Tobago, UTT, showcased two original designs at the Designer Critic Show. The Designer Critic process allows an established designer to be responsible for setting a project and then lending their expertise and help to a group of CAFD students. The most successful student designer of each group receive’s the Designer’s namesake award on the night of the runway show. Launesha, a third-year student at UTT, has previously shown her designs at fashion showcases in Antigua before leaving to attend school. The designer’s third year class was divided into two groups, each with its own designer who would design the group’s theme. The first group’s theme was ‘A Returning National’ – Students were required to design a look, for a woman who lived abroad and was now returning home. The second group’s theme was Caribbean Architecture’, in which students had to choose a building as their inspiration as well as clothing inspirations from the year in which it was built.


Launesha’s Design Moodboard

Launesha chose ‘Caribbean Architecture’ and her inspiration was the iconic Gunthropes Sugar Mill Factory. She says this about her decision, “I loved the rich history behind it, and was drawn more and more towards the inner workings of the building as I did my research. I decided to look at the building from inside out, as opposed to outside in. I had a deep appreciation for the gears and the metal, and things on the inside which allowed the factory to work so seamlessly. For me, it was sort of a metaphor, how the smallest intricate things, could come together to produce something bigger and better than itself.”

The young designer remarked that for her the Gunthropes Sugar Mill was the best architectural representation  of Antiguans, as a whole, when they are driven to work together for a common cause. This sentiment inspired Launesha to name her designs ‘The Architecture of the Transcendent Mind’. She explains, “If somehow we could think above and beyond ourselves, and develop a collective mindset as a people moving towards a greater good, then we would accomplish far greater things than even we can imagine.” Barnes wanted to show not only the progression from darkness to light but that juxtaposition of the organic nature and structure. “The smallest elements of the building, the way the light came through the ceiling, the immaculate lattice work of the metal frames, were driving elements in my collection. Just think: dark, rustic, vintage, flair.”

Launesha began the design process with a 50 look collection, which was then reduced to the top 25, then top 12. Trinidad and Tobago designer Shaun Griffith Perez, who functioned as Launesha’s mentor during the process selected his top two which she then developed mock ups for, and then the actual looks for the runway. The final pieces both had cages. One piece was completely dyed then pigmented and stenciled with pigment on the skirt. For the second look, under the dress, she dyed brown cotton stripped and treated then sewn onto lycra.

The ‘Fashion Constellations’ Designer Critic showcase formed part of the activities of the UTT Fashion Week for 2016. For more images click here.

(images courtesy of Launesha Barnes and CAFD)

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