Is­land Finds

Self-ex­pres­sion is at the heart of Raquel Leid’s de­signs.

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - What’s Inside - BY SARAH GREAVES- GABBADON

BROWS­ING GRENADIAN FASH­ION de­signer Raquel Leid’s Mt. Sealey Gar­den col­lec­tion is like tak­ing a Caribbean va­ca­tion. The sun­shine yel­lows, turquoise blues, and emer­ald greens of her fruit- and flower-mo­tif fab­rics re­flect the hues of the is­lands. And the styles, which float away from the body and flow in the breeze, are per­fect for Caribbean climes. Strik­ing A-line dresses, dra­matic palazzo pants, and cute cropped tops look like the work of an ex­pert and ex­pe­ri­enced de­signer. And they are. But they’re also the cre­ation of a de­signer who’s self-taught, makes each piece her­self, and unashamedly ad­mits that she learned al­most ev­ery­thing she knows from YouTube sew­ing tu­to­ri­als!

We caught up with the teacher-turned­de­signer be­hind the Al­ways Leid brand for her take on is­land style.

Stitch­ing It To­gether

I grew up in the parish of St. An­drew, Grenada, and was al­ways ob­sessed with fash­ion. I started sketch­ing when I was six and dab­bled in DIY projects in my teens. In 2013, I was ac­cepted into fash­ion school, but couldn’t go be­cause of fi­nan­cial re­stric­tions. But I didn’t let that de­ter me. I bought a sew­ing ma­chine and be­gan watch­ing tu­to­ri­als on YouTube. At the end of 2013, I did my first fash­ion show­case, fea­tur­ing pieces made from un­con­ven­tional ma­te­ri­als such as wo­ven ny­lon from bags used to pack­age chicken feed. And I haven’t looked back since!

Lessons Learned

I was a teacher for more than six years and although I liked it, I was torn be­cause I wasn’t giv­ing my brand, Al­ways Leid, ev­ery­thing I could. Jug­gling the two just be­came too de­mand­ing, and in 2017 I chose Al­ways Leid. But teach­ing taught me or­ga­ni­za­tional skills and to be pa­tient and re­silient — skills I use ev­ery­day in my work as a de­signer.

Is­land In­spi­ra­tion

I love vi­brant col­ors and bold prints; vin­tage fab­rics and sil­hou­ettes; and pop cul­ture. I try to com­bine these in­flu­ences with my ex­pe­ri­ences grow­ing up West In­dian to cre­ate some­thing that’s unique and aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing. Be­cause I’m self-taught my pro­duc­tion range is lim­ited, so I do a lot of pro­to­types on muslin to en­sure that I get the ef­fect that fits in with my vi­sion (I’m a bit of a per­fec­tion­ist). My cur­rent col­lec­tion, Mt. Sealey Gar­den, is in­spired by my beloved late grand­fa­ther’s gar­den.

Clothes As Art

The Al­ways Leid Girl/ Woman is quirky, bold, and stylish. She be­lieves that fash­ion is an art form and treats her clothes like wear­able art. Her clothes speak vol­umes about her per­son­al­ity and make a state­ment when she en­ters the room.

Fash­ion, For­ward

Work­ing in the Caribbean can be frus­trat­ing, deal­ing with lim­ited re­sources and high pro­duc­tion costs and ship­ping rates. But I love the feel­ing I get when peo­ple try on one of my pieces and their faces just light up. Mov­ing for­ward, I want Al­ways Leid to be known for in­di­vid­u­al­ity, cre­ativ­ity, and fear­less self­ex­pres­sion. I’m cur­rently in the early stages of cre­at­ing my next col­lec­tion, and I’ve launched an on­line vin­tage cloth­ing bou­tique, Qu­rated by Quelle (pro­nounced “Cu­rated by Kell”). I con­tinue to build my styling port­fo­lio, and I’m hop­ing to branch into menswear.

Browse ( and buy!) Raquel Leid’s cur­rent col­lec­tion at al­waysleid.com or brighten your In­sta­gram feed by fol­low­ing her @al­way­se­leid and @qurat­ed­byquelle

BY SARAH GREAVES- GABBADON

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