CREATIVE SPACE #11 of 2021 (uploaded May 26th 2021)
CREATIVE SPACE is a series spotlighting local (Antiguan and Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. As a brand, it dates back to 2009, published in LIAT’s inflight magazine. It was revamped in 2018 and ran to 2019 on Antiguanice.com. Its publishing partner, as of 2020, is the Daily Observer newspaper. It continues to expand across other media platforms (e.g. AntiguanWriter on YouTube). CREATIVE SPACE is created, owned, and written by Joanne C. Hillhouse – Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean author, journalist, producer, and freelance writer, editor, and trainer.
Here’s a link to the issue as it appeared on May 26th 2021 in the Daily Observer:
Below is the extended online edition (not a duplicate of the edition with publishing partner Observer Media) with extras.
If you would like to be featured or to sponsor (i.e. advertise with) a future installment of the jhohadli.wordpress.com online edition of CREATIVE SPACE and/or CREATIVE SPACE on YouTube, BOOSTing your BRAND while boosting Antigua-Barbuda Art and Culture, contact Joanne.
CREATIVE SPACE: Argent is Ready to Wear
Argent, born Garret Javan, is a local designer whose work suggests another ‘A’, avant garde – a term usually associated with the unusual and experimental.
I had the opportunity to preview the forthcoming collection from House of Argent at the Museum in April 2021. The images in this post are from a subsequent catalogue shoot, in May. This is your first look.
One of the unlikely inspirations, as revealed to me by Argent, is Gravy, and perhaps cricket more broadly. You don’t have to be the sport’s number one fan to remember the between-runs entertainer, whose antics made him synonymous with cricket in the West Indies. While there’s no Gravy wedding dress moment in Argent’s new collection – “the wedding dress is transformed into a simple pant,” the designer said – the androgyny is apparent, as is the sense of fun and sportiness, and an intentionally colloquial quality. Gravy was synonymous with carnival cricket; Argent referred to these new looks as “calypso dan dan attire”.
Argent is an alum of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica, and the Clare Hall Secondary School, where he started both modelling and designing. He divides his time between Trinidad and Antigua and Barbuda, but really the world is his stage. He was in Italy as recently as late last year; though, like most of the world, 2020 was largely for Argent a period of hibernation – a time “to sit back and reflect on who I am and what I want to do.”
He found himself reflecting on the 80s into which he was born, the 90s when he grew up, the “carefree living” of that time, of “fishing line with worm, wheelie with tyre rim, hop scotch”, of “the boy for Donna” (his mother) and “the boy for Nadine” (the aunt he also lived with), running errands to the neighbourhood shop. And in those recollections, he found a new spark to recapture something lost.
The new clothes are, he himself says, “very easy” following a “basic pattern” but with a high level of detail that adds personality. He admits an obsession with zippers and buttons. As well, there is layering and, per my own observation, contrasting. He loves dramatic details. “Men’s clothing shouldn’t be boring.” And these pieces aren’t. There are paint splashed t-shirts that look like a tie dyed take on a Jackson Pollock painting but which he said is achieved through dye extraction, pulling instead of adding colour. There are florals and stripes, plastic and pockets, harnesses and piping, with yellows and maroons (the signature colour of West Indies cricket), and greens dominating the palette. The accessories, the bags, for instance, are all his as well.
Who is the man who will be at home in clothing from House of Argent? One who is not shy about who he is, who is confident, and unafraid of colour and style.
A July release is planned for the new collection and Argent doesn’t do things by half measures; so a lot of things are being planned, including a documentary and short film, and an open air show at Dredgers playfield. Time and COVID will tell, of course, but there is no denying Argent’s infectious optimism. He wears his heart on his sleeve, as I am reminded when he becomes emotional talking of veteran designer Calvin S, one of the people who, along with event producer Vanda Neale Gardner, a main confidante, and fellow designer Ajeante, with whom he got his start, recognized and encouraged his talent. In that category, he also name checked Trinidad and Tobago designers Robert Young and Sean Griffith Perez, both of whom he said “encouraged me to continue”.
Argent’s accomplishments include a number of celebrity commissions, and a handful of awards including the Edna Manley International Avant Garde Designer and Alternative Designer of the Year. What’s next, beyond the upcoming roll out, of course? “my dream is to transform the Caribbean,” Argent said.
Images above were supplied by Argent.
ETA (270721) – IMAGES FROM THE SHOW PREVIEWED IN THIS POST –
Below are some images from other seasons of House of Argent which uses as a tag line “be different, wear different”. They are taken from the designer/design house’s social media.
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