Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 29th 2016 Contents SUNDAY, MAY 29, 2016
top students of the
2016 UTT Caribbean
Academy of Fashion and Design
(CAFD) degree programme discussed
with the Sunday Arts Section their
four-year degree experience.
Single mother and entrepreneur
Fanny Murray was a tailor working
in a small home business when she
came across an advertisement in the
papers about the CAFD.
"I m a single mom and I work for
myself, so I had a lot of challenges
both financially and with making
arrangements for my child when I
had classes, plus transportation from
Marabella in South.
"But when I start something, I
don t quit. I prefer to see it through
until the end. I feel great to be fin-
ishing in a few days. I am counting
down the time," she said with a
The students agreed that it was
an asset to have prior knowledge of
sewing before entering the pro-
gramme, even though CAFD does
not make it a strict requirement.
Shahidah Carr had early memories
of sewing and as a child, she knew
how to operate industrial-grade
sewing machines; her mother, San-
dra, owned and operated a design
school when she was very young.
Sandra is a fashion design co-ordi-
nator in the CAFD.
"Most of what I ve learned came
from looking on at my mother and
watching as she taught her students,"
the younger Carr said in an email
from the US. "As I got older, I started
sewing my own Islamic clothes and
for my friends as well, and that s
when I started doing my own thing
when it came to fashion."
Carr had the opportunity to hang
out with the fashion students almost
every day after school and be easily
persuaded to join the programme
when she was ready for tertiary-
Marie Richardson had specific
goals for her university life: leave
Trinidad; go abroad; study art; suc-
ceed as a visual artist. She spent a
year preparing her formal portfolio
and sending out university applica-
She was offered a scholarship to
St Lawrence University, New York;
it wasn t her only acceptance. Even
with the scholarship, however,
Richardson was not able to take up
the offer because of financial chal-
Encouraged by her parents,
Richardson elected to enter the UTT
fashion design programme.
"I always loved fashion. My joy
in fashion was using old clothes,
reworking it and turning it into a
real best party outfit to get some-
body to take a picture of me and
say, wow. I was always interested in
finding new ways to make things
into something else."
Having grown up at the St Mary s
Children s Home in Tacarigua with
six other siblings, Harvey Robertson
fondly recalled sewing with repur-
posed clothing and donated fabric
sent to the home.
"There was a vocational pro-
gramme for the children of the home
who were not necessarily academ-
ically inclined. I was going to Curepe
Junior Secondary School at the time,
but because my brother was in the
sewing class, I ended up in the class
too," he said, laughing.
He continued sewing into his adult
life, taking odd jobs but never really
pursuing it as a profession---until he
decided to enter the CAFD.
After graduating from Marabella
Senior Comprehensive, Rakesh
Ramoutar was swept into the tai-
loring trade through a visit to Persad
Kistow s Kool Tailoring shop in Gas-
"I went to the tailor for a pair of
trousers for church and he wasn t
quite finished with it. I was thinking,
oh gosh, I wish I could sew my own
clothes because then I wouldn t be
sitting down here waiting so long! "
"So I challenged the tailor and
said, I think I need to learn how to
sew. And he said, All right, I will
train you. "
Ramoutar apprenticed with the
tailor for a year and discovered an
aptitude for the trade, picking up
the skills and techniques faster than
any other trainee the tailor had
encountered, he said.
After his time working hands-on
in the tailoring trade, his mother
directed him to the garment con-
struction course at Servol, Chagua-
nas. From there, he earned a year s
internship at local garment manu-
facturing giant Janouras. While
working there, he saw the adver-
tisement for the CAFD programme
and shifted gears toward expanding
his knowledge into fashion design.
"(CAFD) wasn t what I expected,"
said Ramoutar. "I didn t know there
were a lot of academic courses and
that was my main struggle. In an
exam environment I panic and don t
function well, but I survived," he
"I must say the staff at CAFD
were really supportive. They made
some changes to facilitate me when
sitting in the exam room, like asking
me if I needed to take a break and
Richardson experienced challenges
of a different nature.
"Coming into CAFD in the begin-
ning was great for me because we
did a lot of foundation art courses,
which is my forte. The core academic
courses that Rakesh is talking about
were a joy for me, it was so easy.
"However, they came in with
sewing skills, and I came in with
zilch," she confessed. "I struggled,
cried, I couldn t sleep. Anything to
do with construction was torture,"
"The amount of things that you
learn (at CAFD), they don t have
time to teach you how to sew. They
will try to help, but you have to take
the initiative to get it done. That s
what I had to do, seek out people
who were willing to help me."
Shahidah Carr wrote, "I can
wholeheartedly say I love being in
fashion, and this is where I see myself
for the rest of my life." For her thesis
collection, Carr is reimagining the
acronym POW as Peace Over War.
"I m delving into things that affect
people every day and create a type
of war for them. There are people
who are attacked because of their
race or religion, teens who are bullied
every day, domestic violence victims,
cancer survivors, rape victims...with
my collection, I want to say, don t
give up, keep fighting until that
happy ending, until you find that
place of peace."
Murray had a lot of sleepless
nights during the CAFD programme.
While she came in with a solid back
UTT's 2016 CAFD Art and
Design Exhibition takes place
from June 1--4 at the UTT
John S Donaldson campus.
The Senior Thesis Runway
starts at 7 pm and is open
to the public.
Fashion students get set to graduate
From left, UTT CAFD seniors Marie Richardson, Shahidah Carr, Rakesh Ramoutar, Fanny Murray and Harvey
Robertson. They are among the top students in their class. PHOTO: DAVID WEARS
Continues on Page B40
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