ANIKE TAYLOR, 27, is the recent winner of the Port of Spain Fashion Week/University of TT (UTT) Face Mask Challenge.
The Bethel, Tobago UTT student won the challenge when the UTT’s Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design (CAFD) students “were challenged with the task of reimagining the now all-essential face mask, to be functional and fashionable.”
The winner received one of three sewing machines from Brother and Unicomer, Business Mentorship Programmes from FashionTT, Online Payment Solutions from WiPay and a feature in Fashion Focus Magazine, a release said.
Inspiration for Taylor’s “soluble web technique, utilising strands of red, white and black threads” which won her first place came at the last minute, she said to Newsday in a phone interview.
She got her winning piece done the night before it was supposed to be submitted. She did some at around 3 am, got up and completed the rest to have it sent on the boat to UTT for 4 pm.
Taylor did not expect to win, she simply entered.
“I said it was August. Independence was coming up. I thought, ‘I could do something patriotic.’ As well as I was saying with the way things going in TT ...with all the racial stuff, I was saying everyone enjoys TT. That is what we have.”
Taylor said entrants were required to do a frame that inspires Carnival in TT and she also had thoughts of TT’s flourishing pride. She blended all of these ideas together and came up with her winning design.
In describing how she made the mask, Taylor said she used the technique learnt at school where one unwinds the threading and uses a soluble sheet one dissolves in water. She unwound red, white and black threads and placed “it anyhow on top of the cotton fabric and stitched on top of that,” she said.
She then placed the soluble sheet on top and when she was finished doing the stitching on top, she dissolved it in water and got her mask.
The final-year student, pursuing a bachelors in fashion design, comes from a family involved in fashion.
Her mother, Patricia Semper-Taylor is a seamstress and her father, Cephas Taylor, is a tailor.
This was Taylor’s reason for wanting to study fashion design.
She wanted a foundation in it since her parents learned it as a trade.
“I wanted to go into it and get a whole degree based on the whole thing.”
She is the only one of her parents’ three children who sews and so she wants to “carry on the name.”
Taylor hopes to one day design a line of resort wear based on cotton. She also hopes to, once the covid19 pandemic dies down, visit the UK to further her studies in fashion.
Taylor also thinks fashion in TT is dying.
She said there aren’t as many activities and events around fashion anymore in TT as there used to be. She added while there are younger people involved in fashion there does not seem to be a lot of support for them.
She said while there are older fashion icons in TT who have established themselves, she believes young and upcoming fashion designers are not getting the “push and drive” to do so as well.
Taylor said some people think that some people still don’t see fashion design as a viable career option.
Since she has been attending UTT some people would ask if she was going to school to “what? Sew?” She added it was more than that studying at UTT since one learns textile, jewellery making, tailoring among others.
“There are so many aspects you can learn there and a lot of people are doing things beside sewing.”
The students of the mask design challenge were asked to demonstrate their “creativity and innovation by designing face masks which included cultural references to our African and Indian heritage, while embodying the spirit and essence of Carnival.”
“Second place was won by Hannah Taylor for her embellished, zippered mask, while third place was awarded to Kathy Belcon for her hand-embroidered face mask about the effects of covid19, with a powerful message about keeping hope alive,” the release said.
The top three designs were revealed in a small prize-giving ceremony on August 26 at the UTT’s Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.