A fashion show to help children play mas is the mission of Fashion Passion 4 and La Ta Caille Kidz – a junior Carnival band produced and led by Terrence La Caille.
La Caille hosts Fashion Passion 4, a show that's not only about the talents of local designers, but also a way to showcase his designs for his children's Carnival band. The event takes place at the VIP Lounge, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, tomorrow from 7 pm and features designers Pulchritude Design House and Dominique La Roche among others.
The link between fashion and mas is closer than most may realise, says La Caille, whose first interest in making mas was triggered at eight-year-old, when he was awed by veteran children's mas designer Rosalind Gabriel's presentation.
“I remember distinctly seeing her band crossing the stage and I was inspired by the costume which consisted of a pumpkin on a rope-depicting a pumpkin on a vine and I realised that I liked this and wanted to try it. It was always in my head from the age of eight,” La Caille said.
His first creations were cutting paper into designs. Of the three children of Merle and Glenn La Caille, he was always the one to be found colouring. His talent for art was nurtured at Rosary Boys' RC Primary School and then at Belmont Boys' Intermediate School – now St Francis Boys' College – where Carnival craft progressed into making costumes.
He had a brief spell training as a chef with renowned chef Edward Beharry while at school and hen studied food preparation at Servol Beetham Life Centre. After graduating he worked as a cook at Caribbean Fisheries, Chaguaramas, before moving on to the restaurant industry. Cooking was not his passion.
“I don’t like the heat and I prefer dealing with people. Customer service skills and relating to people are my preference.”
So, he turned to working with the band DKrewe, led by veteran masman and Carnival King Roland St George (who passed away in January). "I went in there to produce costumes, not design, and being with them during that Carnival period I got the opportunity to meet some designers and that sparked my interest to create my own kids band.”
In 2015, he brought out his first children's band La ta Caille Kidz, which he launched on July 6, his birthday. Zodiac Signs, the presentation, was a socially conscious effort and the costume, Catch of The Day, from the Cancer section won best environmental theme.
“It was an exciting experience as it was my first year on my own in creating mas and I beat all these people who have been here for the longest time, it was motivation for me.”
That year, La Caille also met another mas icon, master wire bender Stephen Derek who died a year later. “He is the guy who gave me the inspiration to fully believe in myself because I thought that my ideas were not good enough and he would always tell me to stop doubting yourself. He also helped me with the welding and I created my costumes from there.”
La Caille had success in 2016 with Mother Nature and Her Wonders, winning the mini-band category in the Downtown Carnival and placed second at the Queen’s Park Savannah in the children's competitions. The next year, his presentation Dulce Para su Dulce (Sweet for your Sweet ) caught the attention of the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs which used a picture of his costumes for an advertisement about dressing children appropriately for Carnival.
“I was grateful for the exposure my band got as a result of the ad.”
La Caille did not produce a band last year but returned with Depths of the Horizon this year. He bore the weight of producing and making the costumes during his first years, but this Carnival got much needed support from the children's parents, relatives and neighbours.
“I was individually sticking sea shells on each costume which was quite time-consuming to do on six-yard skirts. My sister, neighbours, models and their parents coming to help, made them realise how much strain and struggle this is.”
After his 2015 debut, he held a barbecue fundraiser to help offset the cost of the following year's band. But strained by the cooking, he went in another direction – fashion – to raise funds for future productions, and this became Fashion Passion. It was a natural move as, even with his bands, he had worked with models training them for Red Runway shows and pageant contestants.
Fashion Passion debuted in 2016 but while people bought tickets many never attended the show.
Adapting the concept, his productions became more than fundraisers.
"I placed more emphasis on the meaning behind it so originally it started off as a way to raise funds and then it developed into a platform to showcase other designers who may not have the opportunity or cash to have their own shows.”
La Caille focused on marketing the fashion show, collaborating with designers, models and make-up artists.
“This is the first year we actually have a theme for Fashion Passion 4. The theme is Flamboyant which is also a part of me. In school they would always say that I am flamboyant, so this year it’s all about celebrating art and the different aspects of my life. So what designers are going to do this year is not just their ordinary clothing but include a bit extra into their stuff. This year’s scheme will be colourful.”
And children will be centre stage among his cast of 45 models and 11 designers.
“I do camps which promotes building their public speaking skills, their confidence, interacting with each other, doing different games, self-defence, art, dance, drama bringing them out of their comfort zone and prepping them for their final event which is a fashion show.”
La Caille's aim is to build a well-known children's Carnival brand. “I don’t want children to be like monkeys in costumes. I want them to firstly understand what they are wearing and let them enjoy it on the road. My current and past kids knew the name of the band and what they were representing because I prefer to have that one-on-one talk with them about what they will be portraying.”
His goal for Fashion Passion is to create a sustainable platform for aspiring designers, models make-up artists and photographers.
“This is about building everybody and having fun while doing so. Don’t doubt yourselves; believe that you can accomplish any goal you set out to achieve.”