SO: You've been a major player in the Caribbean fashion industry, as well as internationally, with a career that has spanned three decades. Looking back, what would you say has been your proudest moment?
Meiling: I'd like to say the present is my proudest moment. The fact that I've been able to endure in such a demanding industry and remain relevant today is, I believe, one of my finest achievements.
SO: Who were the designers who inspired you when you were starting out years ago, and whom do you admire today?
Meiling: I have always been (and still am) strongly influenced by the classic masters Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Also, having studied in London during the '60s, the energy and fresh perspective of designers such as Zandra Rhodes, Ossie Clark and Courreges had a great influence on the development of my aesthetic. Today, the Japanese designers, especially Comme des Garcon, and also Dries Van Noten, form a large part of my inspiration.
SO: Is there a particular era in fashion that captures your imagination?
Meiling: The '30s and '40s were a particularly exciting time for me.
SO: If you're having "designer's block", what do you do to get your creative juices flowing again?
Meiling: Having a block is a very real and extremely challenging sensation. The most effective ways of dealing with it for me have been meditation and yoga.
SO: You've recently taken on the role of editor-in-chief at 6 Carlos magazine, the newest T&T lifestyle magazine. You've previously stated, "If I didn't follow the path of a fashion designer, I wanted to work on a magazine." Is it easy to switch back and forth from your editor-in-chief thinking cap to your fashion designer one?
Meiling: Being the multi-tasker that I am, it comes naturally now. With the magazine it is even easier, as the project is so closely intertwined with my own work and the philosophy of 'Six Carlos', my headquarters.
SO: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you're partnering with Revlon Trinidad on a Breast Cancer Awareness Project. How did this partnership come about?
Meiling: There has been collaboration between myself and Revlon for some years now, having sponsored the make-up for my collections. Therefore, this new partnership was a natural progression.
SO: Your dedication to your craft, your business savvy and your support of causes that are important to you are among the many reasons you've been a role model and a mentor to many up-and-coming designers from the region, perhaps, most notably to Anya Ayoung-Chee. What would you say to all the aspiring young fashion designers out there who have been inspired by your accomplishments?
Meiling: Young designers need to know that nothing comes easily. Passion is the first step, but you cannot succeed without hard work and a certain degree of resilience.
Interview conducted by Tuere Randall for SO.
See Meiling's Collection on
Saturday, November 3 at the Ocean Style/Audi FashionShowcase 2012 at
ATL Automotive Showroom,
Bogue City Centre, Montego Bay.