Fashion designer Shoma Persad.

Shoma Persad has embarked on a journey of self-discovery and has “fallen in love with home again.” It all came together in perfect timing says the savvy fashion designer and creative director.

From exuberant pleated ruffles and elegant flowy elements which echo the sandy shorelines and undulating waves of Maracas and Castara to striking prints mirroring T&T’s lush flora and fauna, Persad’s first solo expression, “Tropical Masquerade”, from Shoma The Label, is the embodiment of all things Caribbean, quintessentially Trinbagonian–dynamic and vibrant and wrapped in sophistication.

Five years after her debut as one half of a regionally-acclaimed designing duo, Persad has had to move from a place of uncertainty, re-branding herself to emerge as a confident creative comfortable in her own skin. She launched her collection on December 1. The response? Phenomenal! Through her new line, she invites Caribbean women to contemplate their rich, multicultural identity while providing a platform for others to understand the Caribbean aesthetic through an imagination of her homeland.

“I realised that when it’s time, it’s time. You don’t need to rush, fuss. It will all work out when it has to,” Persad told the Sunday Guardian.

The vision for her new brand was sparked in September last year in France at the Premiere Vision Paris, the foremost collaborative international event for the fashion world. Among a host of international fashion experts who knew little else about T&T besides its existence, Persad found herself hard-pressed to explain the brand she co-owned at the time.

“It’s been a recurring situation where we try to emulate what’s happening on the outside in the fashion world and we don’t look inside for inspiration. And that’s what changed inside of me. I found my identity and I found that using our collective identity as a people was so much stronger and a much more beautiful form of expression for my art. Anybody can be a fashion designer, but not everybody is a Trinbagonian. The brand came from finding strength in what we have in our twin-island republic.”

Solid work on the collection began during the first lockdown in April earlier this year. A stickler for detail, Persad pulled together a brilliant team of artists, photographers and stylists, drawing on the talents of print designer James Hackett, a Brazilian artist for vibrant print illustrations, and jewelry artisans Sanian Lewis of Sanianitos and Trinidadian-born Jade Gedeon of We Dream in Colour, Massachusetts. Featuring local artists is imperative to enhancing the Caribbean aesthetic, Persad feels.

“We had a strong team guided by a clear vision as to what I wanted. Being in lockdown made things clearer. It gave us time to think. It slowed down everything, so it was beneficial to us.”

Even the background melody used on Persad’s video montages fell perfectly into place. On a drive home one day, Kitch’s “Take me to Trinidad”, an oldie Persad had never heard before, came across her radio, she said. It seemingly endorsed her theme.

Within a week of her launch, she had requests for her impressive pieces from boutiques in Barbados and a Barbadian-owned shop in LA.

With its glamourous, versatile, timeless creations, Shoma The Label transcends the notion of luxury resort wear as simply cover-ups and swimsuits. Persad lovingly infuses her personal signature style of statement sleeves, short skirts and sophisticated, non-overpowering prints.

“You do want to see the woman who’s wearing the outfit. The purpose is to uplift the woman, give her confidence and add to her beauty. A lot of people look outside for the muse, but I design for the muse inside your head which is you,” she said.

Fashion has always come easy to the gifted designer whose penchant for creating extends to photography and just about anything artistic. Of course, having double majored in Marketing and Business Development at Ryerson University, Canada, has also helped sharpen her brand.

Her real task came in re-branding to her self-titled label. Persad admitted she was a bit nervous venturing out as a solo fashion house.

“The lessons I learned in closing the partnership chapter really pushed me. I had no choice but to do it on my own and I wasn’t going to let my vision fail. I’m still hard on myself though, but only because I want to put forward the best version of myself and showcase T&T in the best possible way.”

Embracing the tremendous growth she has experienced this year, Persad said she intends to continue evolving and hopes that others will find value in her personal and sartorial message of re-discovery and resilience.

“It wasn’t an easy journey. It gave me confidence; confirmation that if you see yourself somewhere and work hard towards that, it will happen. It did teach me a lot about self-belief. You can come out. Even if it’s hard today, tomorrow is not going to be the same day.”

Persad is accessible on her company’s WhatsApp hotline, 35-SHOMA and www.shomathelabel.com

Creative Director & Designer – Shoma Persad

Photographers – Marlon James, Elon Thomas & Josiah Persad

Stylists – Emma Foster-Hiscock & Cyan Gomes

Makeup & Hair – Paula De Souza

Models – Shalisha Stewart & Fariel Ali Khan