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Thursday 16 August 2018
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Meiling for Forward Forty

Redefining sleepwear

The collaborators: designer Meiling (left), Judette Coward (centre) and Ruupa’s Candles Narissa Lall speak during the launch of Meiling for Forward Forty.

SLEEPWEAR belongs in your bedroom, right?

Not according to designer Meiling, Forward Forty’s Judette Coward and Ruupa Candles’ Narissa Lall.

On a cool Thursday evening, these women demonstrated the ease of turning what they collectively define as loungewear into outfits that can be worn for any occasion.

The by-invitation only event, Girls Night Out, a “fashion party and shopping experience,” saw the launch of Meiling for Forward Forty, a 54-piece collection.

Forward Forty is a digital life and style platform, which according to its website, is “dedicated to sharing the best of beauty, style, food, travel and wellness with a thoughtful, inspired and authentic Caribbean voice.” It “creates a full calendar of multi-platform social media and digital campaigns.”

Model Sani Lewis at the launch of Meiling for Forward Forty last Thursday.

The platform has created content for brands such as Republic Bank, the Guardian Group, West Mall and Courts, among others.

The event was held last week at Ruupa Candle and Fragrance Boutique, on De Verteuil Street and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook. Guests included fellow designer Anya Ayoung-Chee and former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam, who modelled for Meiling for many years.

In a blend of Meiling’s signature black, mixed with floral and patterned pieces that evoked Coward’s bubbly personality, approximately 24 of the 54 pieces were shown to the mainly female audience.

Faziel Ali-Khan models at Meiling for Forward Forty.

Recalling how the collaboration came about, Coward said to Newsday, “About 12 months ago I had a conversation with Meiling and I said we should collaborate on something.

“I don’t know if it is because both of our brands serve the interest of women, we are both interested in fashion or we are both just entrepreneurs looking at opportunities.”

The genesis of the collection for Coward was a trip to South Africa. “I took a wardrobe from Meiling...and people were very interested in it and they were interested in the garments. The phone started to ring and that is when the idea that started 12 months ago became tonight.”

Iyepha Biggot at Meiling for Forward Forty. The collaborative work of designer Meiling and Judette Coward refined how and where one wears sleepwear.

Demonstrating the versatility of Meiling’s work, Coward said, “For me when I was travelling with Meiling’s wardrobes, I took the kimono to visit a sacred place in South Africa. I took the kimono to a beach, I took it in Cape Town downtown, and it reminded me of how you can have a piece and use it in so many different ways and it is interchangeable with your wardrobe.”

For Meiling, the pieces present infinite possibilities.

“It is a line of pyjamas but not a pyjama to sleep in. It is a whole lifestyle. Someone said loungewear. You can wear it to sleep, or you can go out in it.”

Melissa Deen models at the launch of Meiling for Forward Forty

It was an easy collaboration, since the two have interacted for over 20 years. Coward recalled, “Yesterday I was wearing a dress. I came to Meiling because we were going to discuss the line and everything, and she said, ‘Oh, that is a lovely piece.’ I said, ‘It is yours! It is 20 years old.’”

For Meiling it was easy to work with Coward since “she has a very good eye for fashion. She is a fashionista. It is always a pleasure working with her and dressing her because she steps out of the box.”

Coward was involved throughout the process.

“Meiling was sending fabric to my office and she is asking about me about fabric and asking me about fit. I was extremely involved.”

That surprised her: when they agreed to collaborate, she thought, “I know I love clothes. Fine, but Meiling is the designer and she is the one with all the knowledge.

“For me, what was so special about the collaboration was that she was not only willing to share what she knew, but she also made me feel included in the process, from the concept to execution, so that to me was magical.”

To Meiling, the collection reflects both their styles. “I am black, and she does bright colours.

“For me, looking at the collection, all of my stylists said, ‘You know it is bright, different from you. It is a different look – but it still has your signature on it.’

“It was the first time I have done a collaboration like this. I am always pushing the envelope for myself, wanting to do something new.”

Narissa Lall came into the event with Ruupa Candles’ new body and bath collection.

Lall started the brand of scented candles seven years ago. Ruupa is Sanskrit for “beautiful form.”

About six months ago, she launched the bath and body collection line, a range of home fragrances and body products.

Lall was not initially into fragrances: she was formally trained as an ultrasound technologist. But she always had a desire and dream to do this.

“The scents I create...everything is attached to a memory, and that is something that is universal. Most of the things here have a meaning, a personal meaning: either something I would and have experienced as a child, or I was somewhere with someone else growing up, in someone’s home...”

It was Meiling who invited her to be part of this event.

“Meiling had become a friend over the last few years and I had asked her what did she think about me coming out more into the public, and she said, ‘Oh, why don’t you join us, there is a collaboration coming up,’ and I thought, ‘Why not?’

The event, Lall said, married “pyjama and loungewear and all of these luxury body products and these home fragrances...”

It was, she said, a combination of “fashion, fragrance and fun.”



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