Peter Elias…. we have heard the name and who hasn’t seen and loved the clothes. I was asked to interview Peter but admittedly was a little disappointed upon hearing that this dialogue would be carried out over the phone.
I thought, “Peter is a busy man, I can understand that.” As we started talking however, it was easy to forget that we were relating over phone lines, such was his dynamism, enthusiasm and expressiveness.
Peter Elias has recently launched a new line of formal wear for the graduation/wedding season. He explained that the lasting themes for his work are femininity, youth and elegance. He bases his work on current and burgeoning market trends as is evident in his use of coral and turquoise palettes, uneven or ‘asymmetrical’ hemlines and romantic, softer-draping cuts and fabrics.
When creating a garment, Peter starts at one of two points. He either a) becomes enchanted with a particular fabric and from that fabric, derives design inspiration or b) first concocts a garment design and then selects his colours and fabric.
When asked what a typical work year was like for one of T&T’s most recognisable designers Peter made a point clear to me off the bat. He does not consider himself a ‘designer’. Peter has a more holistic approach to style…he considers himself to be more of an ‘image consultant’ than a garment guru. “It’s not just about the clothes”, he says, but the total package… the hair, the make-up, the poise, the walk, the talk and all the other intangible aspects of impeccable style.
Peter then responded that he was always working. He also pointed out that although the local fashion market is not seasonally based, there are three distinct periods for which designers specifically make clothes. There is the Christmas period, the graduation/ wedding/ formal period and the carnival period. At least this is how he categorizes them. Recently however, he has been working with the wives of various politicians in the region to help them establish their own slant on appropriate political dress. Also, Peter has been doing some image consultancy with the United Nations. Always having the pageant business at arm’s length, he has been asked to work with the upcoming Miss Aruba and Miss Puerto Rico pageants.
Now I really understand why we had to conduct the interview over the phone!!
I then directed the focus to his newly opened men’s store. Knowing that men’s fashion (at least locally) is not as “safe” an area as women’s fashion, he made the leap anyway explaining that “Trini men are coming into their own. They are becoming more daring, more fashion-conscious”. Peter admitted however that he has a weak spot for women’s fashion and hence prefers dressing women. Of course, that hasn’t stopped his men’s collection from being grabbed off the shelves.
“What do you like least about what you do?”
“When customers choose unwisely [in spite of my advice]”
“What do you like most about what you do?”
“I love relating to people. I love the retailing aspect of what I do because of the connection I get with the customer. I love selling!”
Peter is currently working with Sacha Cosmetics to develop an Image Consultancy company. He believes that “…we need to be first-world in our appearance and our knowledge…” and credits this credo as the motivation for his past, present and future projects.
-Photography by Butch Lim Choy
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