“Blue Island”, out now in the December 2020 issue of Elléments Magazine.
Photography & Art Direction by Robyn Damianos. Production & Casting by Shawna Tennyson. Featuring the newest collection by celebrity designer, Theodore Elyett in collaboration with Bahama Hand Prints. Muse, Tarea Bianca at CMM.
This series is one I have been dreaming to create since I started photography. Capturing the incredible energy, strength, and creativity I find in the talented artists that live here against the beautiful backdrops in The Bahamas has become a passion.
Theodore Elyett inspired me to finally pursue this project. His one-of a-kind couture designs have been donned by celebrities and showcased at Buckingham Palace. His recent collaboration with Bahama Hand Prints features hand-painted tropical prints in shades of blue inspired by the Bahamian oceans. After the photoshoot, I sat down with Theo to ask him a few questions and become more acquainted with his journey as a designer. Enjoy!
How did you get into fashion design?
I always had an interest in Fashion Design since I was pretty young. My mother owned a garment factory on Shirley Street and it’s where I spent most of my days after school and many weekends. It’s safe to say I was born into a very art-nurturing environment. The earliest days in design I can recall would have been around the age of 8; that’s when I crafted a cotton dress for my sister with a tiger face heat pressed on the front of it. Nothing fancy at all, in fact, it couldn’t even fit her; but, it was definitely the start of better things to come. My first real leap into the industry wasn’t until five years later at the age of 13 when I designed a garment for my best friend to wear in a modeling competition. After that debut in March 1998, my fashion career continued to blossom.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
Inspiration is all around. I enjoy travel, culture, food, architecture; all of these things contribute to what influences my design and its aesthetic.
What words describe your brand message? Who is your typical client?
I’d comfortably describe my brand as elegant. The Theodore Elyett woman is confident, self-aware, traveled, an aficionado of the perfect balance of print, pattern, color, and texture. She’s got a keen taste for garments that give a nod to femininity, sophistication, and timeless style.
How did the collaboration with Bahama Hand Prints come about?
I was approached by the owner of BHP around mid-summer 2020 and she expressed an interest in adding a new flavor to the brand which has been in existence for some 40 years. I felt that the opportunity was the perfect marriage for both brands because I have been working with textiles from BHP for the last 11 years so merging my style with their textiles was seamless.
What are your top 3 favorite spots to grab a bite in The Bahamas?
I’m going to have to add coffee spots to this listing too! Haha, I enjoy meals at Wild Thyme, Social House, and Shima. Coffee spots; Bon Vivants and Louis & Steens.
What are your favorite islands to visit in The Bahamas?
I love Exuma! I actually lived in Exuma for almost a year at one point. Love that place. I also enjoy Eleuthera and Grand Bahama.
What was the most challenging task when creating this new collection?
For any designer, walking that fine line between creative freedom and feeding the need of a retail consumer, can present itself as a challenge. Designers are wired to create and to do so with full expression. But in the same vein; retailing a collection is also about marketability, ease of wear, and how sellable a garment will be at day’s end. Walking that fine line and finding the balance where I am able to stay true to my design aesthetic and still meet the perimeters of a retail offering was a race well run.
What would you tell students who are looking to get into fashion design?
Run in the opposite direction and run real fast if it’s not something you’re truly passionate about! This career field takes an inordinate amount of love, dedication, sacrifice, knowledge about your craft, the client, forecasts, and trends. It requires flexibility, a respect for the history of fashion while still creating pieces that speak in a very audible voice as to what your point of view is as a designer. If being in the fashion industry is a leap that you’d like to take; I’d say go for it wholeheartedly! Learn as much as you can by studying fashion greats whose accomplishments in the field will give you guidance and inspiration to do the same.
What do you see as the next big trend for the fashion industry?
I’m excited to see how far the wave of fluidity in clothing will continue to expand. Over the last two decades, we have seen a significant blurring of the hard and fast lines between menswear and womenswear. It’s exciting to see how it has evolved, gained steam, ruffled feathers, and provide thousands of consumers with a new voice. If you asked me in the 1990’s what fashion would look like in the 2000’s; it would have been some outlandish and childish ideas about spacesuits and that type of rubbish. But, in fact, we’ve matured so much in our expressions of fashion. Look at the emergence of athleisure, more womenswear brands adopting menswear pieces as staples, menswear catwalks embracing more fluid, airy, and elongated silhouettes for men. It’s all very exciting for any creative.