One month ago, mother of two, Debe hairstylist Ria Sookdeo, kissed her children goodbye as she dropped them off at school.
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Designer mixes Carnival and style
For 24-year-old Janelle Forde style is instinctive. The self-taught designer and owner of clothing line J.Angelique was recently invited to show her latest collections Lime.Style.Fete and Mon Diva at the Nostalgic Nights Fashion Show hosted by Baruch College in New York, USA. Both collections were Carnival-inspired.
In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian, Forde, who is currently in England, said the collections were geared towards women 21 to 35 years old.
“This collection (Lime.Style.Fete) was for people who like to go to all-inclusives and the cruises they have at Carnival. Mon Diva got its name from Monday divas who wanted to upgrade their Monday wear,” she said. Forde explained that when playing mas, she always designed and wore her own custom Monday wear.
Having a keen sense of style has been an asset to Forde, who founded J.Angelique in 2009.
“My style is very classic and intuitive. Style is something that comes naturally and I think once you have confidence that’s where your style comes from.”
The pieces Forde creates for J.Angelique are ready-to-wear but with an “element of uniqueness and creativity.” She added that her eye for colour also has an impact on the J.Angelique style.
Although Forde is Barbadian-Trinidadian, she does not want J Angelique to be the stereotypical Caribbean brand. “In the Caribbean whatever we put together is our style. We go to work and do regular things. We don’t just frolick on the beach all day and that influences our basic style. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to bright colours which are not always appropriate.”
Forde knows all too well about needing clothing for various occasions. Apart from her role as J.Angelique’s lead designer, Forde also recently completed a Masters degree in development statistics from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Her thesis focused on the fashion industry in Barbados. After studying the cluster of various sectors of the industry from design to construction to materials, Forde concluded that the cluster is willing to exchange services and become more organised. However, there seemed to be a lack of readily available materials and equipment.
Resources may be limited, but Forde plans to keep her home base in the Caribbean and continue to provide “clothing for a lifestyle” to the sophisticated Caribbean woman. Part one of the J Angelique lifestyle clothing were the party/Carnival lines. In May, Forde plans to launch a business-wear collection. She also plans to open a flagship store in T&T in the near future.
Janelle Forde’s style dos and don’ts
Forde’s keen sense of style influences what she creates for the J.Angelique line. Check out some of her style rules and must-have items below.
Do: Try different things.
Don’t: Try to be someone you’re not. If you’re copying, you’ll never be as good as the original.
Don’t: Be caught dead in slippers or spaghetti-strap tops. They look unfinished and unpolished.
Don’t: Buy a smaller size. Clothes are supposed to fit comfortably.
Do: Buy J.Angelique
Janelle Forde’s must-have items:
Blazer: it can be dressed up or dressed down.
Jumpsuit: the ultimate thing a diva must have.
Full-length summer dress
More about Janelle Forde and J.Angelique
Janelle Forde founded J.Angelique in 2009 while studying for her BSc in sociology at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. She has participated in numerous fashion shows including Brooklyn Fashion Week, UWI’s Enigma of Style, Caribbean Fashion Week and Style Spirit Weekend.
Her collections include Caribbean Butterfly and Tropical Glamour.