Rhaj Paul in a quandaryRHAJ PAUL: unsure of where he will get his funding. (Guest Picture)
By Natanga Smith Hurdle | Sat, August 25, 2012 - 12:03 AM
DESIGNER RHAJ PAUL is stuck between a rock and hard place.
He has until Monday to pay BDS$6 000 for a course at the prestigious Savile Row Academy in London or forfeit his space. Rhaj said he has exhausted all avenues and has nowhere else to turn.
“Every two years the course takes 12 students. I am the only West Indian in the 12 picked for this upcoming 18-month course,” he told the SATURDAY SUN, adding that he was accepted to the course in July and that the first class starts September 10.
“I have spoken to Minister [of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development Denis] Kellman. The cost of the entire course is $50 000. But this is just a training course, not an accredited one or one with a degree, and that is where the problem lies.
“I have gone to the Student Revolving Loan Fund, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, Invest Barbados,” lamented Rhaj, who said he would also have to travel back and forth between London and Barbados for the 18 months since a student visa was also out of the question.
He said he had since received a call from the Ministry of Industry informing him that the “funding wasn’t working out”.
Rhaj noted that the high level of training he would receive could not be questioned.
The course is run by world renowned master tailor Professor Andrew Ramroop, OBE, at his Savile Row Academy (SRA) in London.
At 50 years old, Ramroop, a Trinidadian, has been globally recognized for his work in bespoke tailoring. In 2005 he received the Chaconia Gold Medal from the president of Trinidad and Tobago; three years later he was appointed by the Queen to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and since 2002 the W.E.B. DuBois Institute of Harvard University has offered an annual prize in his name. He has twice captured the title of Best Men’s Wear: Design, Cut and Fit in the Golden Shears Awards, considered the Oscars of tailoring.
Ramroop has taken on six of the SRA trainees so far and all past students of the SRA are employed in and around Savile Row.
Ramroop said that with the 18 months of training, “Rhaj will be well equipped to start his own bespoke tailoring business of a high class”.
Ramroop said he has clients in 57 countries, including Barbados, Trinidad and Grenada and “[Rhaj] has the whole of the West Indies and farther afield to make his name after finishing the course”.
At home Rhaj is trying to source some of the funding by doing a T-shirt line, but that is still not enough.
Self-taught for the most part, Rhaj has gone beyond being a technology student of the Barbados Community College and theology student at the Caribbean Union College in Trinidad.
He started the Rhaj Paul Project in 2005, buzzing around the fashion industry with his cotton shirts, fray-edged finishes, blunt collars and rich colours in an extensive use of fabric.
That label has folded but not Rhaj Paul’s ambition.
“All I want to do is to know how to make a great suit. I want to be able to cut and fit perfectly, to be able to create work that will please and benefit my clients and make me feel proud to be part of the sartorial tradition.”
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