Continental couture with fashion designer Christina Goddard
CHRISTINA GODDARD has a work studio in her home in New York City, United States, filled with swatches of cloth, half-finished designs, pins and needles, odds and ends, paper sketches jostling for position with body forms and her sewing apparatuses.
A 24-year-old student at Winston Salem State University, currently studying marketing, she has spent the majority of her life living in New York City – after all she was born there. But she was so happy when the Barbados Fashion Week rolled around last month that she jumped at the opportunity to visit home. Yes, Christina is a Bajan Yankee.
Born in New York to Barbadian parents, Pamela F. Goddard, from Mile and a Quarter, St Peter, and Colvin C. Goddard, from Boscobelle, St Peter, she came here when she was two weeks old. She then left Barbados for New York when she was five and has since been travelling back and forth. Barbados Fashion Week was her second showing as a fashion designer, having been here for the one held the previous year.
“I left Barbados when I was very young and grew up mostly in NYC but I was raised in a Bajan household. I was always exposed to Bajan culture at home, the food my mother would cook, the lessons my father would teach us, and so on. I would travel between NY and Barbados growing up and I love both places and call them home. I love the big city but I love to come to Barbados and chill; the lifestyle is more relaxed.”
Looking forward to finishing her degree in marketing next May, Christina has been designing since she was about 12 and sewing since 14. She hopes everything she is learning now will help her market and run her fashion line Conrad Sinclair and her company Conrad Sinclair Corporation business more efficiently. She noted that “many people have talent but if you have no knowledge of business you won’t make it”.
The name came about because family is very important to her.
“My father’s father is Conrad Goddard and my mother’s father is Frank Sinclair Goodridge. I fused the two names because family is important to me. My mother, who is now deceased three years this month, worked at Plantations Ltd for a long time and my father is the former rector of St John the Baptist.
Christina explained how she was bit by the fashion bug: “I was always great at sketching but around the age of 12 is when I really started getting into clothes. I loved helping my family put together outfits and helping my parents shop. I made a great decision to attend the High School of Fashion Industries because my creativity and love for fashion grew there. I always wanted a career in something I truly loved and would enjoy for the rest of my life and now I have that.”
The best perk in being a fashion designer is that no one ever has on what she is wearing, Christina said, laughing. She likes people approaching her in the streets and complimenting her on her attire: “I don’t go out often but when I do, I’m going out to be seen.”
But the fashion industry is not all glitz and glamour. It’s a lot of work, says Christina, who says two of the most difficult aspects are working alone and being innovative.
“I put a lot of hours into what I do and it can become tiring but I put on my iTunes and go; I love to sew and create. Sometimes I am so excited I can’t sleep and I sew through the night just to see the finished product. Other garments take days, sometimes weeks. Keeping your mind fresh is difficult, too, but I always try to make my clothes sexy but functional and comfortable.”
If you see Christina wearing pink it’s because she is not that girlie “but I absolutely love pink. Plus it’s the colour for breast cancer awareness and that’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart”.
But for Barbados Fashion Week there wasn’t any pink, just a lot of whites and browns and intricate cut-outs in one particular item. She likes to work with all fabrics but since she creates a mostly Spring collection she works with mostly cotton blends.
“I initially had 12 garments to show and only showed ten. I had actually got in on a late flight and missed model fittings. It was very hectic for me backstage and everything did not go as I would of liked it to but it was a learning experience. I learnt and I experienced. I was not nervous, just focused.”
Christian Dior, Gareth Pugh, John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan are some of her favourite designers and her design inspiration comes from all over. “I used to have an extremely long ride on the subway and would see things and just sketch. But colours, people, the women in my family inspire me every day.”
Do you feel your formal fashion education helped prepare you for working in the industry? “I do. I think studying fashion design was very important. I will never forget my teacher Ms David telling me how beautiful a sketch I made was but then asking me how she was supposed to get into it. Fashion is fairytale, glamour, fabulous art, but it still has to be functional. Being educated in fashion helps create functional garments and gives you industry knowledge.
So what else does Christina have on her plate?
“I’m a student. I have two jobs, and I run my company Conrad Sinclair Corporation. Some say I have too much on my plate but I love to eat.”