“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman… or man!” is a famous quote by Coco Chanel.
Carmen Penco understands all too well what this means as well as the great value of clothing, textiles, shapes and patterns when it comes to unique Caribbean fashion and style. And with this in mind, she adds new meaning to design, portraying and perfectly representing through her craft, the fact that the human body is indeed a work of art.
Founder of the Carmen Penco School of Fine Arts (CPSFA) and with forty years experience in the garment industry, Carmen Penco – originally from Guyana – has worked in England, the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. And now she is bringing her experience and expertise to Saint Lucia with a brand new venture. Penco is partnering with an equally enthusiastic and fashionably driven Lyn Bristol and Erica Mc Vane both from Saint Lucia, to establish the first certified fashion school within the Caribbean region. Opened here in October, the Carmen Penco School of Fashion Arts offers Associate Degrees in fashion and design. It is located at Trouya, Bois D’orange, Gros Islet.
For Lyn Bristol who has been a local designer and event co-coordinator for many years in Saint Lucia, the school is truly a dream come true. She told the STAR; “What is new and different about the Carmen Penco Fashion School, is that we offer a service which is unconventional from the norm, or what is accepted in Saint Lucia.” She went on to state that their aim is to educate and alter the mindset of fashion in Saint Lucia. “We also want to attract the fresh, younger generation, in order to change the status quo of the fashion scene here,” Bristol says.
Erica Mc Vane, the youngest of the team, says she is ‘honoured to be working with Penco’, who she sanctions as one of the best designers from the region. “The concept of the fashion school was ironically birthed through this innate passion of mine, which could not remain suppressed, but forced me to connect with Penco and share her vision,” Mc Vane says. From there, the three began to build and arduously toil to put things in place, to see their collective desires become a reality. This was not void of obstacles however, including the lack of financial and governmental support for the initiative. Irrespective of this set back, the energy which fuelled their dream continued to propel them forward, until they managed to seal up everything necessary to make the school eligible for business, with the green light to begin operations.
Collectively, the three fashion tycoons aim to offer their students exceptional quality, coupled with extensive and meaningful education. These highly motivated key fashion-industry players are determined to succeed above and beyond all, having the common goal of offering top standard education and skill training to their protégées.
The Carmen Penco team is focused on taking Saint Lucian fashion and design to the international stage as a recognized quality brand.
At this point, another famous fashion quote comes to mind; “People will stare, but make it worth their while.” The Carmen Penco Fashion School is all geared up to teach fashionably creative minds how to do just that, to make fashion all the more worthwhile.