Peter Bowen is thrilled to be back in the fashion industry. (Picture by Lennox Devonish.)
FASHION DESIGNER Peter Bowen is making a comeback. He breathed new life into his creativity towards the end of 2016, three years after the death of his best friend and business partner Simon Foster. Bowen has overcome great sorrow and grief and now is flexing his artistic muscles again in the boutique Disciples Of Style that he and Simon set up in Paynes Bay, St James.
The break has given Bowen the opportunity to re-energise and refocus and now he plans on dominating the fashion industry with a powerhouse of ideas and new designs.
Bowen spoke of his close relationship with Simon recalling the glory days when the two of them were a force to be reckoned with.
“Basically I’m now starting a new beginning with a solid foundation in fashion under the mentorship of John Simon Foster; may he rest in peace,” he said.
“He was the first white designer on the island, he settled in Barbados and created the first chattel house business . . . using it as a studio. He obtained the highest clientele that anyone can ask for, both globally and locally.
“The work we created together is called resort leisure. It is composed of unique and affordable hand painted garments for both women and men. Had he not passed one would’ve been seeing designs of mine that he had signed off on to be put into manufacturing.”
Bowen reminisced on how he and Simon conceptualised the name of their fashion boutique.
“The business is called DOS which stands for Disciples Of Style and it happens to be the three last letters in Barbados. It also can stand for Destination of Style or Designers of Style, because the island has many now due to his inspiration.”
Bowen said people can expect the same high quality the label is known for. He said he had taken the boutique to a new level that would appeal more to tourists, offering them something that has never yet been done in Barbados. He has changed the boutique into a workshop and created a medina on the Paynes Bay beach where customers can experience an art fantasy when they try on and purchase clothing.
“I am carrying on the legacy,” he said. “There is no reason that I should let the work that we did cease.
“When you think of Versace and Channel their work has continued. So knowing of Simon’s contribution I can’t just sit down and relax.
“The last three years was a transition for me, adapting and facing some truths, but the objective has always been there to contribute to my country; to basically cater to my family, continue this golden hearted work, and of course giving God all the glory, because he makes everything possible.”
Bowen said financial aid was hard to come by and he needed investment injection to carry out his plans. He said the last fashion show he held was in 2010 when he was able to raise $10 000 for Haitians, who had just experienced a devastating earthquake. He enjoys productions like that where he can give back to the community or help fight for a cause.
“Right now my aim is to help the charities in Barbados and the only way I can do that is true fashion.
“Since 2010 I have not had another production but I would like to have the opportunity so the proceeds could be given to the less fortunate.
“I have a fashion show that has been sitting on paper for a while and through faith I am hoping to get it off the ground with spiritual, physical, mental and financial help; hope has gotten me thus far and my vision is very sincere.”
Bowen also shared his concerns about the development of the fashion industry in the island.
“Fashion should have been a part of the 50th year of independence celebrations. There are a lot of fashion designers who contributed greatly to Barbados and yet their efforts were not acknowledged.
“People such as Carol Cadogan Fox, Gildan Miller and Harvey are known for the extensive work they have done. Simon and other legends did a lot and because of them the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and Barbados Community College now offer courses in fashion design.
“I also find that fashion is not appreciated like it should here. Many people have come to me and asked me why I do not go overseas and ply my trade but if I leave what would happen here?
“Simon Peter were the first local designers to ever have a space in Limegrove. Our outlet there was wonderfully decorated and advertised and people from overseas frequently frequent there and unfortunately we had to shut up shop because of the lack of investment.”
When asked why he continues to persist in this industry the 51-year-old replied, “My island is worth it, and I don’t give up.
“You don’t give up your dreams despite the trials you may go through. Keep your faith strong, just work diligently and the objective will be achieved.
“And if there is no help it doesn’t mean to stop, it is to fuel you to continue,” he said.