Friday 4 December, 2020

Delia Alleyne steps closer to dream of global fashion fame

Delia Alleyne

Delia Alleyne

When Delia Alleyne left Trinidad and Tobago in 2017 she was on the hunt for something more.

A graduate of the first cohort of fashion design students from the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design, she had, and still has, her eyes set on becoming a designer known all over the world.

Leaving these shores has put her on the road to fulfilling her dream.

Working on Beyoncé’s Black is King was the catalyst she needed.

Alleyne, who is from Scarborough, Tobago, worked as an assistant tailor on the Disney Plus release under lead stylist Zerina Akers.

She said in that role, her job was to support the team wherever needed – creating an outfit for Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy for the “Brown Skin Girl” video and creating an outfit for Beyoncé to appear in a scene with her dancers, among her tasks.

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“I was in awe at the amount of things that were happening because I jumped into the project while it was in motion,” Alleyne told Loop of her experience.

She said each day on set was different with as many as 100 cast members present at any one time.

And thanks to her signature rose pink hair, she also snagged a tiny bit of screen time in the “Mood 4 Eva” video.

Alleyne said as excited as she was to be working on the production, she always let her professionalism shine through.

“I always tried to be a very reliable person even when I was in Trinidad. I always wanted to deliver so coming into something at that magnitude I had to figure out how to stay calm. Knowing who it is for and knowing you are in the same space as all these creatives and the queen herself, I had to learn how to calm myself, how to maintain my composure and deliver and survive in such an intense environment,” she said.

A cape Delia Alleyne created in Black is King

Her professionalism and skill clearly impressed Akers, who tapped Alleyne to work with her other clients Halle and Chloe, the sisters who Beyoncé discovered and signed to her Parkwood Entertainment label in 2015.

Alleyne outfitted the sisters for their first concert in Los Angeles and has done custom pieces for them for various projects including an appearance on The Today Show.

“This is like a dream,” Alleyne said of her career to date. “Doing fashion design home I always wanted more.”

As a child, growing up on Glen Road in Scarborough, Alleyne wanted to be either a designer or a teacher.

“I wanted to design because I knew there was more to just making clothes. I grew up in a home where clothing was being made all the time. My mother was a seamstress. I helped her with sewing. I realised that I liked it but I didn't like the ordinary things,” she said.

“So at some point I wanted to learn to sew so I could make my own things. I did clothing and textiles in Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive. Everything we made was for ourselves. I later did a Clothing and Textiles Technician’s diploma as I got the taste of it in secondary school and I still wanted more. I wanted to further improve my technical skills and knowledge of clothing.”

Delia Alleyne also designs outfits for singing sisters Chloe and Halle

Following her diploma, Alleyne taught at a Goodwood High school for eight years but decided to pursue her fashion dream when she applied to UTT in 2008.

As a UTT student in 2011 her name became nationally known when she was credited for teaching Anya Ayoung Chee to sew for her appearance on Season nine of Project Runway, which the former beauty queen won.

That same year, Alleyne was also the first runner up in the Designer Critic Award Show in the group that was mentored by Point Fortin-based design label Zadd and Eastman.

After graduating from UTT, Alleyne lectured for four years there before branching out to open her eponymous fashion label.

She shared a retail space at Normandie hotel in St Ann’s which she maintained for a year after she migrated and which has now transitioned into an online store where her loyal clients can still order her designs.

She worked with legendary designer Meiling to design costumes for the annual 3 Canal show titled “Planass” and showcased designs at Tobago Fashion Week, Tobago Fashion Coda, Caribbean Fashion Week and The Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design at Ottawa Fashion Week with three other UTT graduates.

As part of her job as Assistant Tailor on Black is King, Delia Alleyne had to create a dress for Blue Ivy, Beyonce's daughter

Despite the traction she was gaining, Alleyne felt she needed to be exposed to more.

 “UTT gave me a great foundation, I would do shows in Jamaica and New York but I felt like coming back home was anti-climactic. The fashion scene doesn’t function on the same level as the fashion capital and I always wanted to experience more so I went to America,” she explained.

In New York, Alleyne worked as a sample maker for a production company and did a stint in 2018 with Grenadian designer Felisha Noel and her label Fe Noel. There, she worked with the small team helping with samples and filling orders for clients.

 “I was learning, looking and learning at the business structures and what they do. I was in that space trying to figure out how to structure my business, what could work for me and figuring out my ultimate goal. I was working hard and giving my best. It paid off. People saw my work ethic and skill,” she said, thanking fellow Trinbagonian Suzette Selman for recommending her to work on Black is King.

Selman also worked as a stylist on the team.

“I can’t describe the experience seeing your name scrolling up the screen,” said Alleyne, reminiscing on the Black is King experience.

Delia Alleyne created the costumes for the children in this chess scene from Black is King

Looking at her career, Alleyne said there are still things she wants to achieve as a designer and so far one of her goals for 2020, working with more stylists, is coming true. She has been getting calls from other stylists to design clothing for their clients.

Asked to describe the woman she designs for, Alleyne said she targets bold and confident women.

“Classy, punk and funk. No matter what I design I try to keep that element in there. It means that it would be bold for that bold woman. I love bright colours, I love things to pop and contrast. I don’t know how to be muted.”

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