Thursday, April 25, 2024

Reaping what she sews

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Barbadian designer Brandi Estwick brought the islands to Los Angeles and wowed the crowd last month when she showcased her pieces at Concept LA Fashion Week at Siren Studios in Hollywood.
Estwick who is inspired by architecture, nature, as well as music, opened the showcase with the sounds of Barbadian superstar Rihanna’s track We Found Love. Her edgy designs flooded the runway with black and white skin-tight dresses, corsets, high-wasted skirts, and trousers. There was a theme of leather and horizontal stripes with a vertical design throughout the exhibit.
“It turned out to be only two designers from the Caribbean (her cousin Kesia Estwick went also with her designs) and fortunately the first two Barbadian fashion designers to get such an opportunity to show in Hollywood. When we got to the hotel in LA, our room number was 246,” she chuckled.
The invitation came from Unique Productions Worldwide Limited and Caribbean Market Centre (CMC) in Hollywood where CMC collaborated with the team at LA Fashion Week and decided to do their very first Caribbean Showcase. 
“We were allowed 12 looks a designer, and I showed 11 pieces. This experience was very overwhelming. The response was great and it only sunk in when I did the final walk that I was actually in LA. The Press box was huge, there were cameras everywhere and as soon as I walked off, the journalists/media were backstage waiting to interview us about the collections,” she said, as if still in disbelief.
Brandi, who has a certificate in AutoCAD design and is a certified interior design, named the line after a combination of her middle and last name. She spoke to EASY Magazine about how she got into fashion designing and why she would like to style Rihanna.
What drew you to fashion and specifically to being a designer and starting your own line?
My mum Heather Estwick-Barrow is responsible, as I grew up watching her design some of her very own pieces – but my dad Patrick Owen Estwick gets all the credit where my drawing skills are concerned. Growing an appreciation for art and fashion, I wanted to create something of my own, something that looked different to what everyone else was wearing, so I challenged myself. I designed and wore my first outfit to a school cruise in my third year at secondary school. I was pleasantly surprised at the response to my outfit and from that day on, I have not given it up. 
The public would have been first formally introduced to you last year at the Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX). How did that come about?
The manager of local manufacturing company La Rosa Couture actually suggested my work to one of the fashion coordinators of BMEX. I went to show my sketches and got the spot. I brought 12 pieces to the show but encountered minor problems where the fittings were concerned; most of the pieces had to be taken in as the girls were extremely tiny and yes, I was very nervous because it was the public debut of my designs.
What is the most difficult aspect of being a designer?
The most difficult aspect of being a designer is creating something that no other designer has, something trendy and practical and if your name is unknown or you’re the underdog, your work has to be so unique that it speaks volumes for itself. After that we have to compete against customers who think all types of clothing should be sold extremely cheap, no matter the construction, finish or quality of the piece.
What is the best perk in being a designer?
Oooh! I absolutely love the fact that no one else can wear my stuff before me. I get to continuously express my creativity through my attire and do not have to worry about overdressing or being limited in my style by someone else’s business. It is a breath of fresh air.
What fabrics, colours do you like to work with?
I love mechanical stretch; it’s like my go-to fabric every single time I’m shopping. I also like peau de soie, jerseys and georgette satin. My favourite colours are black, red, white and blue but I have no true colour limit in the realm of fashion. You can make any colour work once it is paired correctly.
Who would you love to dress and why?
I would love to style Rihanna. Why, you may ask? She is one of the biggest trendsetters in the world and if she were to even consider Iman Estie, that would melt my heart. It would also be a great opportunity to market a Barbadian designer; it’s about time the world saw that our talent goes far beyond their expectations.

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