Before I delve deeper into the subject matter, let me introduce myself to you: my name is Ian Royer, and I am a marketer and publicist by trade, an Aquarian by nature and 100% a fan of NMFV’s.
I’ve followed the blogs religiously and I find it a refreshing point of view on the state of Fashion in Trinidad and Tobago. Personally, I’ve been in and around the industry directly and indirectly having worked for Fashion Week Trinidad and Tobago, Miss Universe TT, Miss World TT, Caribbean’s Next Top Model, Anya Ayoung Chee, Shannon Hutchinson, Sasha Gates & WAGS and more. I have a passion for the growth of the local industry and its potential to be exported and marketed globally. In addition to this I am a huge enthusiast and with my background in the fashion/ entertainment world, and having worked for the National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago and various carnival brands and bands, I particularly enjoy watching the evolution of “Pretty Mas” into a statement of Fashion.
I decided to make my debut article about the design team of Kristen Camacho and Lauren Castillo. A designing duo, they are aligned with the bands Fantasy and Entice Carnival, with Kristen playing an integral management role in the bands in addition to her designs, and Lauren being a business woman and designer with Entice Carnival from inception.
I must admit, I work with Fantasy and Entice as their marketing maven, however, what made me drawn to these women and their designs was something I noticed having worked on the curation and presentation of the Entice Band over the last 3 years – these women know how to shape carnival costumes for actual women, with real bodies, in a meaningful and sexy way. I got to catch up with the girls after the unveiling of their Carnival 2018 offering Joan of Arc.
NMFV: We’ve noticed over the years that you tend to lean towards a vintage style, somewhat like from the 1920s-burlesque era, what about this period speaks to you?
Kristen: I don’t think it’s necessarily vintage, but sexy with comfort. Looking at the designs though some do really scream vintage. Maybe we were flappers in a past life!
Lauren: Agreed, I think what might make people see our designs as 1920’s vintage is the fact that they are always simple but with elegant details. Neither Kristen nor I like too much frou-frou when it comes to our costumes. Simple works for us, we just try to enhance the beauty of the women’s body with different body wear designs. The key to our design is make sure our masqueraders are comfortable in a costume that they would want to wear all day while parading in the sun.
NMFV: So how would you define your design point of view, and how do you incorporate fashion into it?
Kristen: Our design point of view comes from a desire to allow women to have options on the road. Skimpy doesn’t work for everyone, and comfortable can also be extremely sexy if done tastefully.
Lauren: Confidence is also sexy, making costumes with proper options for women of all body types increase a woman’s confidence on the road. I am no model, but I know if I wore my costume I would feel beautiful and everyone deserves that, especially for Carnival. Our point of view is categorically Sexy with a dash of Elegant.
NMFV: What are the variations of your costumes this year?
Lauren & Kristen: This year we have two options for our frontliners, we have a sexy two piece for the more risqué women, and a mesh style monokini for those who prefer to be a little more covered but still want to feel sexy.
Kristen: I can tell you myself with metabolism slowing down as I hit my 30’s I tend to be leaning to the monokini style recently, so the option to me is MUST. I can eat my KFC and rock my monokini no problem!
Lauren: Our backline top can be worn as a crisscross as shown on stage or halter. The crisscross style pushes up the cleavage for those who are looking for those extra curves and the halter is best for those who need more support. For us it’s all about accentuating the best parts of every woman, no matter the shape or size. Everyone should feel comfortable and sexy on the road.
NMFV: What made you decided to go with a black colour palette?
Lauren: We wanted to do black since last year but it is a very risky colour to choose for a costume design. Most people are drawn to colourful costumes, the brighter the better for some. But over the last few years I have seen a lot of women drawn to dark, black Monday wear costumes mainly. We decided this year we would risk it and put our best foot forward.
We were unsure about which colour to pair it with and I think it was when we saw the gun metal fabric in Spandex House in New York we decided this was the year! We fell in love with the combo and knew black was a go! We also chose the wet look fabric so it wasn’t just plain old boring black, the shine made all the difference.
NMFV: How does the design process work for both of you?
Lauren: The design process is quite fun for us. We both bring our ideas to the table, different body wear options that we might have sketched or thought about. Basically, we both either love it or have conflicting views, if don’t agree we try something new. Trial and error is how this game works. Anytime I personally get any kind of inspiration from television, magazines, top designers, nature or anything as a matter of fact, I usually try to make a sketch then can build upon it. We would sit and share ideas of what we want our costume to represent, usually we are drawn to sexy elegance. Shopping in New York is where the fun begins, going through the thousands of gems and trims to choose just the right ones to make our costume unique, personal yet fashion forward and innovative. Upon returning to Trinidad we meet with our seamstress to discuss the degree of difficulty and the practicality of our design for production. Once agreed upon we await the completion of our body wear/ bathing suit then it’s time for decorating. Here is where the trial and error part comes in, we place the stones and trims on the body wear in different styles to see what suits our design theme. Then voila we have our design ready for all the beautiful women in Trinidad and Tobago and around the world to showcase during the greatest time of the year, Carnival.
Kristen: Lauren and I work so well together that it almost doesn’t feel like work during our design process. We have friends in the design world that are in awe of us every year and get a good laugh out of our laid-back approach. They would take days and days choosing different things to put together for their designs. Lauren and I, Miss Bim and Miss Bam, would walk into one store and be out in one hour, walk in the next and the same. So far, every year we have completed the choosing of gems, fabric and feathers in one day which is unheard of for most designers. We have had great luck, and I think having a partner to help you really makes the process easier when you mesh so well together. We learn something new every year though that makes the next year a little easier. There is a lot to think about, you cannot simply pick up what you think is pretty. There is production to consider, comfort of the gems and trims chosen among many other factors.
I’m excited to see what the future holds for this dynamic duo of design. Look at their 2018 offerings for Carnival and let us know what you think, we think they are right on the edge of making Carnival safe and sound for no more fashion victims.
That’s all for now, look out for some new blogs on other Carnival designers that I think are breaking the mold and doing their own things in the industry.