Thursday, April 25, 2024

Fashion in her veins

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People who love fashion know that clothes are never just clothes. There’s a story behind every piece, and every clothing line says something about the designer.
For 22-year-old upcoming designer Katrina Foster, her experience so far has been something of a coming of age story: one of self-discovery, overcoming fear and pursuing dreams.
Katrina emerged as the top student in this year’s garment-making class at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic. And while she is elated that her hard work and long hours at the sewing machine have paid off, she also wants her accomplishment to serve as inspiration to other young women.
Katrina’s love for making clothes was honed from early early having grown up in a family of dressmakers with a grandmother who made wedding gowns.
“I discovered fashion when I was still playing with dollies,” she said, with a smile during an interview with the SUNDAY SUN at her Josey Hill, St Lucy home.“I even begged my mother one Christmas to buy a sewing machine for me. I meant a real sewing machine, and my mum bought a toy, but she couldn’t get me off that machine,” she recalled.
The former Alexandra School student did not set out to study fashion design or garment-making. In fact, she studied sociology and English literature at the Barbados Community College (BCC).
During that time, the passing of her uncle threw her into a state of depression. While receiving counselling, she was advised to take a leave of absence from BCC. It was during this period that she really began to focus on her love for fashion.
“[His death] allowed me to realize that life is short and if you’re going to go after a dream, I think you should go for it right now. Life is too short to be saying ‘what if’ or ‘later’,” she said.
Katrina admitted that she had previously let fear or feelings of inadequacy hold her back.
“I’m really an introverted person and I realized that nobody knew or really understood who I was and this is where I realized then that fashion gives you a perspective, a point of view, a voice,” the young woman added.
Katrina returned to college to complete that associate degree and then began to study fashion design at the same institution, although she only completed one semester.
“I only completed a semester because the timing was an inconvenience for me, living so far. Classes were mainly from nine o’clock in the morning until nine o’clock night four days a week.
“It was basically an inconvenience for me to have to come home and do assignments. My eye is on detail, so for me to have to rush to do something, that is a no-no,” she explained.That one semester of experience, however, provided her with the basic skills needed to hit the ground running at SJPP.
There she learnt about the details that go into making skirts and bodices, including pattern-making, getting seams just right and putting in zippers and pockets.
She plans to go on to the second level of the programme which includes swimwear, lingerie and tailoring.Ultimately, she wants to study at the London College of Fashion or Ravensbourne Collegeof Design and Communication.But for the time being, she is preparing to showcase her designs at the upcoming Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX) with some of her classmates.
 She will also spend the summer interning with designer and garment-making tutor Joy Prime.
The enthusiastic young woman eventually wants to bring together all her skills and training into producing a magazine for Caribbean women.
Like many designers, she has both muses and designers she admires. Her muses are pop icons Rihanna and Nicki Minaj who are known for their fearless style, while her favourite local designers are Rotchelle Parris, of Pink Lemonade,and Pauline Bellamy.
She’s also a big fan of Lebanese Elie Saab, best known for dressing celebrities and royalty, whimsical American Betsey Johnson, Project Runway Season IIwinner Michelle Lesniak Franklin and Project Runway contestant Samantha Black. She likes their “fun, chic, feminine aesthetics”.
Katrina said her mother, Gercine Sobers, was her greatest inspiration and the one who encouraged her to let God be her “light” when she was going through periods of difficulty.She advised girls not to let other people belittle their ambitions.
“If you live to please people, you would never understand yourself, you would never know who you are,” Katrina said.
• Positive Youth is a series highlighting the efforts of some of the youth in our nation who are engaging in positive pursuits. If you know of any such people, please contact Natasha Beckles at 430-5459 or natashabeckles@nationnews.com; or Bryan Walker at 430-5492 or bryanwalker@nationnews.com  
 

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