SO2 - Shoma's Tropical Masquerade

Lifestyle

SO2 - Shoma's Tropical Masquerade

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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If 2020 was a year of subdued reflection, then 2021 is certainly shaping up to be the year for an unapologetic renaissance for the Caribbean fashion industry. Unyieldingly, Shoma Persad is ready to join the ranks and strut confidently into her own creative light with Tropical Masquerade.

The emerging fashion designer, based in Trinidad and Tobago, set social media circles ablaze in December with the timely digital launch of her eponymous Shoma The Label — a brilliant encapsulation of Caribbean-style excellence, marked by a reflective, dynamic and timeless beauty that our region is known to uniquely showcase. With quintessential Trinbagonian flair, her Spring/Summer 2021 offering, Tropical Masquerade, tells a story of falling love with home again — an arduous journey that Persad herself has taken particularly in the last five years.

“I travelled to Paris in 2019 for the Premier Vision Fashion Convention — which is a dream for any aspiring fashion designer — and for me, the challenge throughout that trip while meeting people from all over the world was summarising the depth of Trinbagonian creativity for those who may not be familiar with our country or our talent potential,” explained the Ryerson University graduate, who holds a degree in marketing and business development. At the time, she was also the co-director of a women's resort fashion label with another Trinbagonian designer, but the duo ultimately split that same year.

“The interesting thing about growth is that it really allows for your authentic self to emerge and evolve when you may least expect it. I really have a deep appreciation for what that experience taught me, because I was able to explore and blend many loves, including Carnival.

“Eventually, we realised that we were no longer on the same page in sharing the creative vision, and although it was difficult, it was a period that truly made space to acknowledge my own personal and professional development. Shoma The Label was born from that honest desire to remain true to that new-found clarity,” Persad said.

Her natural ability for fashion design has been present from a very young age, and although the ambitious creative director has never been formally educated in fashion, she credits her researching ability to understand multiple facets of the industry to provide a better understanding of the inner workings of industry development. She also candidly respects the advice from Trinbagonian fashion icon Meiling Esau in the quest to hone that distinctive passion.

“Fashion is so much more than the runway. Since the collection launch, Meiling has truly been wonderful in helping me to not only understand the supporting tools for a successful fashion business, but to also find my unique 'style voice',” she enthused. Persad's design ethos leans into her love for prints. She creates garments for the modern woman as an avenue to vibrantly express the beauty and style of her culture through design. Persad looks at globally renowned designers such as Johanna Ortiz, Falguni Shane Peacock and Cult Gaia as sources of inspiration. “I especially love looking at Colombian designers because they bring a refined drama to their work, and it has a refreshing take on what lifestyle fashion brands can create with timelessness in mind,” she said.

Refined elements and sophisticated approaches to her body of work have always been a core aesthetic for Persad. For her, it is this point of view that succinctly represents the Caribbean; one that she aspires to translate into the brand values that have resonated with her clients over the years.

“Resort wear doesn't only have to always be about 'flowy' fabric. With Tropical Masquerade, I really wanted to broaden that concept and find a balance between glorious print work and classic, understated details. Both can embody a clean, outstanding finish for the confident, modern woman who wears my designs,” she noted.

That attention to detail is proudly celebrated in this first offering, bringing inspiration and intersection from Trinbagonian topography to fashion. Cotton, elastane, viscose, linen and hints of silk satinrule this collection: for durability, breathability and luxury, all of which are important to Persad. “The collection was designed to have staple, long-wear wardrobe pieces for any occasion — from dinner parties to micro-weddings,” she explained. Staple collection pieces such as the Santa Flora crop and the Birds of Paradise skirt incorporate a specially designed print that includes an open-faced aesthetic of the tropics — reminiscent of the jungle motif and flora and fauna that her homeland is known for. Other pieces, such as the Grand Rivière Sands skirt and the peplum bustier, feature a pleated fabric manipulation to pay homage to the waves on the well-known North Coast beach that is separated from the rest of the island by the hills of the Northern Range — known and loved for its stunning, seemingly endless shoreline.

In turning the page on this invaluable chapter of her calling with Shoma The Label, and in an effort to remain true to the vividity of her fashion direction, Persad is insistent on creating a team dynamic that widens the scope of Caribbean brilliance. She partnered with illustrator James Hackett to create the exclusive fabric print and collaborated with jewellery designers Sanian Lewis of Sanianitos and We Dream In Colour to bring that artistic attention to detail full-circle. “It was important for me to work alongside fellow Trini creative professionals that share in the vision of the sophisticated Caribbean experience — who also understood the significance of producing excellent quality products that were export-ready,” Persad explained. That vision has already yielded rewards — with a few international boutiques reaching out to Shoma The Label to carry the collection, including California-based luxury atelier Papaïyo.

In addition to international runway showcases that will resume in 2021 when, hopefully, there will be a return to normalcy after the COVID-19 crisis, Persad hopes to see Caribbean-born superstar Rihanna and fashion influencer Blair Eadie wearing Shoma The Label. “Rihanna is the quintessential Caribbean woman who has become such a global brand ambassador for our region. She really knows how to bring sophistication to every occasion, and it would be just a dream to see her continue to celebrate our indigenous talent in one of our pieces. Blair is so versatile, and she never misses with her sense of style,” she admired.

With the website www.shomathelabel.com now fully accessible to place international orders, and an overwhelming response to the debut digital drop, the future is bright for Shoma The Label. The design house has certainly begun to bear the fruits of Persad's year-long labour to create Tropical Masquerade, and she's excitedly planning for new releases this year. Her focus is now squarely set on making an international impact with the brand that places a spotlight on Trinbagonian excellence and Caribbean elegance. “Bringing the story of this collection to life has really been a labour of love for so many reasons. It's been a personal testament to overcoming adversity, but it's also blessed me with this amazing opportunity to celebrate who we are and what we represent as a Caribbean collective. Turning passion into creative action will benefit the entire industry in the long run, and that starts with telling our stories, our way,” she stated.

For Shoma The Label, the butterfly effect is clear: Showcasing a fashionable reflection of the splendour of the Caribbean, rich in personality and charisma, all wrapped in a sophisticated island bow.

Credits:

Creative director & designer: Shoma Persad

Copy: Tenille Clarke

Brand: Shoma The Label

Photography: Elon Thomas

Editing: Damian Joseph

Model: Shalisha Stewart

Venue: Veronique's Events, St Clair, Trinidad and Tobago


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