Published on Friday, April 21 2017 by Melissa Doughty
YOU walk into the space and immediately notice the small, round, wooden table with tea cups. Its essence projects that quiet place you and your best friend sit at to have that no-holds barred conversation and then do a bit of shopping. Claudia Pegus is the local fashion industry’s best friend. The one whose fashion skill-set and works rank among the best globally, but at the heart of most of what she creates is TT and all that it is.
Pegus, who has been in the fashion industry since the 1970s needs little introduction.
Her string of achievements are hard to miss, among them the Chaconia Medal Silver in 2010 for her contribution to the country’s fashion industry.
Now, those seeking to get their hands on her work no longer need to call and make an appointment but can, instead, visit her self-titled store at Long Circular Mall, Port-of-Spain. Pegus had many stores before, but for a while, ran a private atelier by appointment only. But now Pegus’ style and fashion can be easily accessed by, simply taking a trip to the mall.
Although the store opened on January 25, it will officially be launched on Sunday with an exclusive pre-view of her new collection, Dougla.
The atelier launch and pre-jazz 2017 collection, is a two-fold presentation, with the pre-view, serenading the Claudia Pegus (CP) shopper and the continuation being shown to the wider public at Tobago Fashion Coda on April 27.
Normally, Pegus would be showing in Tobago at this time but she decided to, “give [her] clients something for their patronage or for their continued loyalty to the brand.” The pre-viewing is just that. The event is for select clientele by invitation only, those “who supported me over the years.” When Newsday asked her if it was a very exclusive event, Pegus defined exactly what that meant to her, saying, “The thing is when people say ‘very exclusive’ I like people to understand what ‘very exclusive’ means…it does not mean leaving out people.
It means showing appreciation for the people who have kept me going.
“That is what very exclusive means to me. It means showing appreciation for the clients. I don’t charge them a fee to come and see the gift of my skills or how they have stimulated my imagination and the many ways I can say thank you to them. You can’t put a fee on thank you,” she said.
The collection was born after she was invited to a Mehndi night last year. “At a Mehndi night in 2016 I encountered the Dougla. A black Trini sister marrying a white Canadian under Hindu rites and given away by an Indian brother. Like a rare bird, the Dougla captured my imagination, haunting my creativity, teasing me on the ‘what next’ watch.” Dougla, she explained, is not a model but rather a person, with style and attitude.
A shopper who, “wears the CP design style” and transforms Claudia’s concept into personalised style.
For Pegus, “Dougla is a statement of all things Trini. Dougla expresses love for country and love of self. It’s Claudia, caught up in this mix of beauty and ingenuity, offering an experience, a collection, a pelau of races, colour and creatives.
It’s Claudia, as she continues to make her mark and leave her stamp in true trini style.” Every inch of the space drips Pegus, from her large initials, CP, on the walls to the pictures of famous women whose styles she likes, whose styles feed her creativity.
Among these, a picture of American singer, songwriter and activist, Nina Simone.
“Everything that you see in the store is part of the substance that feeds my creativity,” she told Newsday.
Her ability to focus was partly credited for her longevity in the fashion industry, and she never loses sight of two things fundamentally important to her – continuity and the power of thank you. “I would like to be able to sit back and see someone else take the leading role which would be the result of mentoring. I would like to see continuity.
Continuity is important to me,” she said, while highlighting that she had, in fact, chosen a successor, Michael Marquis. Marquis has been Pegus’ protege for the past five years. Pegus said he came to her “green”, from working in the hospitality industry.
Pegus said Marquis had a passion and would often come to her, “after work, during lunch, before work” to learn. Although he had no formal training in the industry, his passion and focus were qualities she could not overlook.