If anyone ever tells you that fashion designers are not artists, it is probably best that you not share that sentiment with clothing designers. Art is about more than just stencils, paint, canvas, and images in your mind. Some of the world’s greatest artists use different mediums to bring their visions to life, and they have all the passion of their counterparts who draw, paint, and sculpt. Charu Lochan Dass is a Trinidad-based designer whose passion and vision have created one of the freshest lines of fashion available today.

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CLD 2016 Spring/Summer The ANJA Collection June, 2015. Model: Soowan Bramble
PHOTO: Ikenna Douglas

Inspired from a Young Age

Charu was born and raised in India, before locating to Trinidad after her time at university. With an innate talent for sketching and painting, Charu didn’t actually create her first fashion design until she was 14 years old. As a teenager, she was obsessed with fashion and used her passion for sketching and art to bring her concepts to life.

Among the first pieces to inspire her was something that is ubiquitous in homes around the world. Growing up in India, her mother kept an exquisite table runner in the home that was hand woven, and featured stunning embroidery and mirror details. As she puts it, the table runner inspired her creative juices, helping her to create her first piece (a waist coat) that incorporated the style of the table runner.

CLD 2016 Spring/Summer The ANJA Collection. Model: Maurisa Selene Coleman Photo: Ikenna Douglas

CLD 2016 Spring/Summer The ANJA Collection. Model: Maurisa Selene Coleman
PHOTO: Ikenna Douglas

Her Views on Formal Education

Most artists are bound to tell you that success depends upon both talent and training. Charu would back this assertion, defending both the value of formal education and the importance of passion. In 2010, she enrolled in Fashion Design and Marketing at the famous London College of Fashion. After completing her studies there, she relocated to Trinidad.

Charu admits that her time at the London College of Fashion prepared her for a place within the global fashion industry, but fashion is not an established industry in every nation. As a result, she would give the following advice to anyone looking to launch a career in fashion:

“Perseverance, determination, and an innate drive are necessary if one is passionate about a career in fashion”.

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CLD 2016 Spring/Summer The ANJA Collection. Model: Adrianne Abraham
PHOTO: Ikenna Douglas

How She Develops a Line of Clothing

Every artist has their own approach to design. Every line of designs she creates starts with inspiration and the development of a concept. Charu turns to a variety of sources for inspiration, ranging from her own emotions and the material itself, to a fashion icon or even one of her current clients. Generally speaking though, she is drawn to the classic looks of the 1960s. Icons such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn showcased timeless fashions that have a place in the world still today.

As she views it, fashion is an industry that never sleeps. In her own words, developing clothing lines and producing new fashions works as follows:

“It’s not an 8-4 or 9-5 job, but rather something fashion designers invest their time and hearts into, Fashion is something you live, breathe, eat, and sleep”.

When you see many of her most successful designs, you’ll notice some similarities across the line. She enjoys creating timeless, sophisticated pieces that have the power to transform an individual. Black and white are her favourite colours because they are classic, ageless, and ever so versatile.

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CLD 2016 Spring/Summer The ANJA Collection. Model: Maurisa Selene Coleman
PHOTO: Ikenna Douglas

CLD

Charu’s success over the years has included a number of different shows, such as the appearance of her CLD Boho Glam Collection showcased at New York Fashion Week 2014. CLD is the name of her fashion house, taking its name from her initials. Her designs often feature silhouettes and dresses that complement the beauty of a woman’s body, and can include plunging necklines and daring slits. Overall, her fashions feature subtle, demure charm.

Fashion is a fluid industry wherein trends change frequently. For the upcoming year, she believes the trend of peek-a-boo lace will be a hot trend. It fits in perfectly with many of her current designs because it allows for a balance between revealing skin and showing the silhouette of the female figure through the fabric.

In addition, she sees asymmetrical hemlines, comfortable clothing, and oversized belts as dominant trends. Many of these factors fit into her personal style, which she describes as one of elegance, confidence, and sophistication.

Advice and Visions for the Future

Charu’s advice to other fashion designers and would-be designers is the same you’ll hear from most artists. Imagination and creativity will always propel an artist forward and set you up for success, but in order to grow and truly succeed, you’ll need to connect with every customer and network to build a base of followers interested in your business and your designs. When it comes to surviving the fashion industry, she had the following to say:

“Firstly, one must be creative to succeed in the fashion industry. Also necessary is an artistic flair and the ability to interpret that into designs. Working in the fashion industry, a designer must have good fashion sense and style. Knowing the trends from the past to the current fashion trends and be able to visualize and conceptualize what should be in the future. Knowing how to mix and blend colours, choose the right pattern and fabric, mix and match clothing styles with accessories are all essential for working within the fashion industry”.

Much like any artist would, Charu hopes to see her designs gain greater recognition around the globe. While her CLD designs are increasingly popular throughout Trinidad and Tobago, her dream is to see women, across the world, confidently wearing her sophisticated creations.