“Trinidad is not piña colada territory. That’s part of its allure: Unlike virtually every other Caribbean island, the oil-rich country seven miles off Venezuela is not driven by tourism — which means that in lieu of sunbathing hordes and “Yah, Mon” T-shirts, you’ll find miles of unspoiled beaches and waterfalls visited by locals; a Creole culture with roots in Africa, India, Europe and China; and a bustling capital city offering some of the Caribbean’s most electrifying night life. Partying, after all, is a national tradition in Trinidad, home to an annual Carnival that is the region’s biggest and, lately, most star-studded (last year, the actors Idris Elba and Malik Yoba showed up). That, along with recent restaurant and hotel openings and trendy Trini ambassadors — from the rappers Nicki Minaj and Theophilus London to the “Project Runway” winner Anya Ayoung Chee — might just turn Trinidad into the next “it” island.” – an excerpt from a recent New York Times Article: 36 hours in Trinidad
Everyone knows Nicki,,but does everyone know Theo? I didn’t know about him till this NY Times article..and now I can’t stop listening to him..
How could’ve the NY times have left out Vashtie? Vashtie Kola – a.k.a. Va$htie or “Downtown’s Sweetheart” – is an artist, video director/producer, clothing designer, party promoter and entrepreneur. She’s directed videos for Solange, Kid Cudi, Jadakiss, and even Justin Beiber..and throws parties in NYC with QTIP. She also has her own clothing line, Violette which got her a collaboration with Jordan – making her the first woman to ever have her own Jordan.
Kola was born and raised in Albany, New York and is of East Indian and Afro-Trinidadian descent. In March 2009, Vibe Magazine listed her among the “31 Most Stylish People Under 31.” She came in at the 23rd spot amongst names like Kanye West, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake. In an interview about being American on the outside but Trinidadian on the inside, she had this to say “My parents are and were very Trinidadian and very traditional in that manner. For me I know that my parents would always talk about American kids and the difference in culture between there and Trinidad. We ate traditional food. My mum would show me Trinidadian music and movies. Once I walked in my door it seemed like Trinidad.”
Anyhow,,I’m getting further and further from the point.
Now is an interesting time in Trinidad. This country is in flux,,in the midst of evolution. Especially after Anya’s highly publicized ‘Project Runway’ win..all eyes are on TNT to prove to the world (and itself) that this dual-island nation is so much more than just..Carnival. (Or maybe that’s just what I would like to see for the country?)
This is not to say I don’t like Carnival (although I won’t hide the fact that I’m no Carnival baby). On the contrary, I recognize what Carnival means to Trinidad (both culturally and economically) and what the annual festival has done to ‘put Trinidad on the map’ so to speak, in terms of the international exposure and tourism. And, what’s more..I think Carnival has provided the foundation on which a new ‘generation’ of creative professionals plan to build great things..transformative things. Things, and experiences that showcase Trinidadian culture, customs, and ability all throughout the year – not only for a couple of days in February/March.
Recently I’ve been finding myself in discussions with artists, architects, film makers, designers, writers, …advertising and communication professionals.. Most of whom share similar profiles: educated/lived abroad and and have returned to Trinidad to put their education/experience to good use. Some, like me, are in the middle of getting to know Trinidad for the very first time. They are eager. Eager to take a holistic, transformative approach in developing Trinidad along more creative, artistic, and sustainable lines. They see this as being the “way forward” for this country..and think that there is no better opportunity than now to be part of this movement. I agree.
Trinidad is ready for a new Trinidad. This country is ripe with opportunity. Overripe almost.
I thought about this when I picked up the first print edition of Trinidad Lookbook last week.. Before it ran in print, Trinidad Lookbook was previously an online magazine/blog. This in itself piqued my interest about the publication..as many people have asked me why I don’t look into turning my Beiruti blog into a book. One of my main arguments was always, “Why would people pay for a book when they can get my content online..for free.” But flipping through the pages of Trinidad Lookbook, definitely made me think twice about my previous apprehension. From what I understand though, the case with Trinidad Lookbook is different as as the content that appears in the magazine is exclusive content that cannot be sourced online – which is the completely opposite stance most publications are taking these days.
As Robert (@mezblaq) over at Tribal Caribbean noted, “In a time when ‘the death of print’ seems to be looming ever closer, it’s quite interesting for a company to do something so ‘backward’ as it were, to start digitally and move into traditional media.” When Robert asked T’dad Lookbook Editor, Mel Gabriel (@tdadlookbook), on ‘why transition now, especially into what many consider a dying medium’ she had this to say “There’s a general misconception that print is dying… almost everything is digital now – like, life is extra-digital – so print is the new luxury and we wanted to provide a luxury option for fashion publishing that isnt the typical Facebook page or Twitter feed.”
I couldn’t agree with Mel more..print has become a luxury. However it will be interesting to note whether Lookbook continues to separate their online content from their print content..or choose instead to run their print content online.
To be honest, I was a bit hesitant when I picked up this publication as my experience with other local publications (which shall remain nameless) have been..disappointing to say the least. (They are usually nothing more than photographic reviews of the latest fetes..sprinkled with a few restaurant/bar reviews to justify running ads) But as soon as I read ‘The Editor”..Mel’s introduction to her first print edition..I knew Trinidad Lookbook was, well..different. The features are more than well-written..they are intriguing, thought-provoking, and most importantly,,honest. They give insight into the up-and-coming industries in Trinidad: fashion, design, art. And… they are written for everyone, not only for the fashion-obsessed.
I enjoyed reading about Anya and Wendy yes, but I also enjoyed reading the “Fashion Emergency” piece about how fashion changed (or didn’t) during the SOE/curfew when people started to go to day time parties instead of nighttime parties..as well as about the artist/attorney Justin Sobion. The art direction and photography are also superb.. My favorites? The candid shots of Anya in “10 with Anya” and “Ayana Riviere’s Fashion Diary” as shot by Kibwe Brathwaite (@KibweBrathwaite)..(Ayana is such a beauty! wow!) And finally the layout and design of the publication – by Abovegroup Ogilvy (@ag_ogilvy) – is clean, modern, and sophisticated..and ties the whole thing together.
All in all, I am impressed..and am looking forward to the next edition. This is what Trinidad needs..these types of publications and creative expressions. I am convinced. I mean, aren’t you?
My only criticism? Like Ceola B (@ceolab) pointed out on her blog, “Perhaps it is the type of paper or maybe this was a production ‘flaw’ but some of the photographs are far too dark, losing a lot of detailing in the clothing and accessories, which really, is the whole point of this [publication]. This was especially evident to me in the set with Manwarren, Steel and Emmanuel where clothing was described in the caption and I could not distinguish it.”
But I’m sure they’ll fix this by the next edition.
As usual, this post ended up starting as one thing and turning into something else. I hope you made it to the end..I know it was a long one.
The Pallet Stick, POS
Meiling’s No. 6 studio
Runway Street, Woodbrook
Bang Bang, Frederick Street
Bang Bang, High Street, San Fernando
Bang Bang, Trincity
So Chic Boutique in Francis Plaza, Chaguanas