Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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My name is Lori-Antoinette and I am a clothes artist. “Fashion designer” seems airy and empty. My daughter said when she was six, “Mummy, I want to be a clothes artist, just like you.” I’m an artist and fabric is my medium. I use my first name only. Unless I’m getting a cheque.
My dad is Chinese and my mom’s black, so I have a real mixed-up look. My daughter Blue-Joy is 13 now. My ex-husband’s favourite colour at the time was blue and he wanted to name her after his grandmother. And I wanted her name hyphenated, like mine. I’ve been making things since before going to school. I’d staple pieces of paper together and say, “Here, Daddy, look a notepad.” I’m not finished with my tattoos but I’m careful what I put now. I was rebellious before but there aren’t any that I wish I did not put.
I was raised Anglican; I think that’s Catholic. But I’m not sure. I went to a Roman Catholic primary school, Newtown Girls. I have a religious friend who thinks the Bible is the Word of God. And I think the Bible is a lovely novel. There are great moral stories in it, but wrong and right is relative. In the Book, it might be wrong but, in the situation, it might be right. You have to feel it through.
I don’t think I’m ugly. But I live in Trinidad. It have real nice woman walking ’bout the place. Trini men are sometimes exhausting. But who could blame them? There are so many gorgeous women, they just, “Eenie-meenie-minie-mo.” I started designing clothes because I couldn’t afford to buy the clothes I wanted. I’d go out and somebody would say, “Nice top!” I decided when I was 19 this is what I wanted. I worked as wardrobe assistant on [TT soap opera] Westwood Park, just to be near to the clothes.
The Chinese side of my family is racist. I never noticed, when I was a child, that my mother was black and my father, Chinese. They was just “people.” Even though I’d hear my uncle cross the kitchen and say, “F......ing n.......r children!” My friends tell me, “You don’t know what racism is.” When my uncle is walking in the house, blocking his nose, I don’t know what racism is!
I cuss in front of Blue-Joy, but she doesn’t cuss. I explained to her I would love her to be a lady. But I’m learning that your kids do what you do. Sometimes there is no substitute for [cussing]. What are you supposed to say instead of, “Yuh mother ....”? The Alchemist is my favourite book. I’ve read it eight times. When I want to relax, I smoke. I’m not a pothead but...
As a Caribbean designer, I was told I had to do things that “looked” Caribbean. I think that’s complete a.. Anything that comes out of me is Caribbean, because I am Caribbean. I’m having a show in November and they tell me I have to invite a couple of “names.” I say, “I don’t want to invite them!” Cause I don’t want any negative vibes at my own event. I’m still thinking about it but they probably won’t be present unless they buy a damn ticket!
Teenage girls in Trinidad are mean, mean, mean. I like to go to Maracas and watch the women. Men are absolutely boring to look at. I’m straight, but I do love looking at women’s bodies. I drink beer and rum-and-water. That rum-and-coke was f......-ing me up fast. When I priced a dress, another designer said, “You can’t sell this for $1,900!” I said, “Yes, it’s silk, and the beads are hand-strung.” What’s US$300 for a designer dress?
The best thing about being a clothes artist is people seeing and appreciating what I’ve done. It’s nicer than someone saying you’re pretty. Because that’s my insides, hanging on that rack. The down side is not having enough resources or manpower to show everything that’s on the inside. A Trini is warm. Love to lime. Relaxed. Take work-mode seriously. Love music. Rum. Free. Real serious s...t talk. That would basically describe every single one of us. Not all of us drink, though.
Trinidad & Tobago means “Motherland” to me.
Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com
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