It was Vogue’s Anna Wintour who offered the famous tip, “Create your own style, let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
Guyanese designer, Sonia Noel, has without a doubt succeeded in doing just this – creating style that is unique, yet identifiable.
She incorporates lattice work into her designs and has been doing this since the beginning of her more than 20 years as a thriving designer. She calls it her signature mark.
Lattice work involves interlocking several pieces of cloth in such a way that it leaves a pattern or sequence of square boxes along the fabric.
While some have bemoaned the monotony in the “many boxes she always has on her clothes,” Ms. Noel holds on it as the uniqueness in her designs.
She told Guyana Inc. that she incorporates lattice work into her designs as much as she can. She says, “I am obsessed with architectural structures and designs. I like to use it in my body of work. It is my trademark. Whenever people see it, they know it is a Sonia Noel design.”
After more than two decades of major accomplishments in the field of fashion designing, Ms. Noel remains the humble belle from Bartica who believes that anything is possible; a peculiar mix of designer powerhouse and savvy businesswoman.
Looking back to the beginning of her career, Ms. Noel recalled that in her early twenties, she took a leap of faith by starting her own boutique, called Mariska’s Fashion, named after her daughter.
She sold imported clothing, but showcased her own designs by wearing them daily. As a result, she was able to garner support from her patrons whose interests were heightened by the unique clothing. A few years later, she launched Mariska’s Designs.
Ms. Noel’s designs can be worn from beach to ballroom and she has dressed from housewives to First Ladies.
An occasion of pride the designer cheerfully remembers was when American singer, Michelle Williams, included a Poncho from the ‘First Resort’ collection of Mariska’s Designs in her touring wardrobe during her stint in the Tony Award-winning Musical FELA.
The mention of her designs as “fashion must-haves” in a 2013 Edition of New York’s Essence Magazine was another monumental milestone for Ms. Noel. She also received many local, regional and international awards for her contributions to the fashion industry and her philanthropic work.
Among other successes, Ms. Noel founded Guyana Fashion Weekend (now Guyana Fashion Week) in 2007 and Guyana Model Search and Designers Portfolio in 2008. The Guyana Fashion Weekend is the second longest running fashion event of its kind in the region and has served to launch the careers of many makeup artists, stylists, set decorators and graphic artists, just to name a few. They have all found a home at these fashion events.
In addition, these events have proven themselves to be indispensable to the country’s cultural policy development as it seeks to invest in the burgeoning creative industry. Ms. Noel holds this as one of her most prized achievements. She pledges to continue toiling for the benefit of her country, family and fans as a true patriot.
(Article taken from the Guyana Inc. Magazine Issue 27)