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Janelle is on a fashion mission


Natanga Smith Hurdle

Janelle is on a fashion mission

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Janelle Forde was a student at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad completing her Bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in international relations, when the 2009 Enigma Of Style Fashion Show produced by the Guild of Students came up.
Prodded by her friend, she took the opportunity to showcase her flair for design and was shocked at the positive response from the crowd.
Since that night the penchant she has for fashion and beauty brought her to Barbados Fashion Week 2011 where she presented her work to everyone at home for the first time, cheered on by her mum and dad Gillian and Roger Forde.
“I started fashion design in Trinidad and did multiple shows there, but I never showcased in Barbados. I participated in Brooklyn Fashion Weekend last September and I look forward to participating in more regional and international shows this year,” said the former Combermerian.
At 23, things are looking pretty good for the young designer and owner of J.Angelique Clothing (the initial of her first name and the middle name), who is in the process of completing her Master’s in development statistics in Trinidad.
“I am actually researching aspects of the Barbados fashion industry and busy with the 2013 J.Angelique Collection which is in the planning stages. I am so excited.
“I predict an even warmer reception of this collection than the last Tropical Glamour Collection.”
Janelle has even bigger news, part of which she cannot reveal but the WEEKEND NATION can spill the beans. Janelle is one of three Barbadian fashion designers who were the first to be invited to Jamaica for that country’s version of Project Runway called Mission Catwalk that was filmed over a period of six weeks from December last year until January this year.
The Mission Catwalk reality series has expanded its reach, and returns to television for a second season with contestants from several Caribbean countries. Fifteen designers from Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and home country Jamaica are competing for enviable prizes, among them the chance to showcase at London Fashion Week.
Like the previous season, the series will test and nurture the talents of the contestants through numerous challenges geared at identifying and honing a range of creative skills and abilities.
Last year’s winner Shenna Carby is still reaping benefits from her victory, which included the chance to show at Miami Fashion Week. In addition to the opportunity to show in London, this year’s winner will receive JAM$500 000 (BDS$11 475), courtesy of National Commercial Bank of Jamaica (NCB) to start a clothing line; industrial sewing equipment valued at JAM$200 000 (BDS$4 590), courtesy of Singer Jamaica; a contract to sell designs at SoHo boutique; a six-page fashion editorial in Ocean Style Magazine; and a scholarship to pursue the fashion programme at the London College of Fashion.
“I auditioned and was chosen to participate in the show. The competition requires designers to conceptualize and create a design for each themed mission. Finally, designers present their work for the judges, and a designer is eliminated at the end of each round of judging . . . . The auditions were nerve-racking and the judges showed no mercy.”
Janelle admitted the hardest part of the competition was the sewing, as she was not the greatest seamstress. She said she wasn’t formally trained and what techniques she honed were learnt from mum Gillian, but “design is a natural talent”.
Janelle explained that each episode took about a day and a half to film.
“I am not really fond of competitions, but competing with Caribbean designers was a great learning experience, and it gave me an opportunity to see what my generation of designers has to offer.”
Janelle lamented that the competition was mostly work and a little play. She stressed, however, that she was always mindful of her purpose in Jamaica, and her aim was not to get distracted by the wonderful beaches and scrumptious food.
Set to last 13 weeks, the Misson Catwalk series will conclude with three designers at a live showdown in Kingston. The show will air every Tuesday night at 8:30 on Television Jamaica, starting March 27.
The Bajan lass From St Michael says her design inspiration is the world.
“The world is inspiring. Inspiration may be sparked from anything or any emotion.”
And Janelle takes it all in stride when she is approached by people on the street, who compliment her style.
“I get an accomplished feeling when people appreciate what I wear, because what I wear is a part of who I am.”
Her clothing from the J.Angelique Tropical Glamour Collection has a feminine but edgy vibe to it with ruffles and ruchings. She admits she is drawn to rich colour.
“I love when fabric looks and feels expensive. Also, I am very attracted to prints; I can never get away from including bold, vibrant prints in my collection.”
At fashion shows Janelle is happier being backstage hustling and bustling and making last-minute adjustments and rarely gets to see her collection come down the runway.
Calling herself “Jin The Ripper” “because of how often I usually have to rip garments”, Janelle first conceptualizes the garment she wishes to create and she may either draw or visualize the garment with all its dimensions: fit, darts, hems, zips and so on. Then it’s off to drafting a paper pattern of the piece and cutting the fabric from the pattern.
After, it’s time to sew, which for her is the most difficult part with her basic skills.
Calling herself a big soca fan, Janelle would love the pleasure of styling some female soca artist like Alison Hinds or Fay-Ann Lyons.
What do you wish people would understand about working in the fashion industry?
“Firstly, it is a business and one must never neglect the monetary aspect of it. If we want fashion to be an avenue for success and prosperity, designers, manufacturers and other key stakeholders in the industry must view fashion in its entirety.
“Secondly, it may be used as a tool to enlighten and empower individuals. As I always put it, fashion with a heart.”

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