Even fashion can play a pivotal role in the lives of Caribbean youth. Trinidad and Tobago menswear designer Ecliff Elie, concerned about the uphill battle faced by so many young men in Trinidad and Tobago, for yet another year opened his heart to do something he felt would uplift a few of them, shining the spotlight on them, if only for one special night in 2019. For a dozen teenage boys who were leaving the Secondary education system to continue their respective journeys, Elie and his team donated custom tailored suits for their graduation events.
One student of Diego Martin Secondary was chosen by his teachers for the ultimate graduation gift from the contemporary menswear brand, Elie explaining that he had in fact given a speech at the school and engaged the teachers, asking them to choose a student they considered highly promising to be outfitted. Separately, one young man who attended CUC College was also outfitted. He had performed well academically, despite the challenges associated with his single parent background. Over in sister isle Tobago, Ecliff also teamed up with the Pink Diamond Society to deliver a suit to a special young man, chosen by the group.
Elie’s focus on fashion throughout his life catapulted him from his Arima, East Trinidad hometown, eventually opening him up to greater opportunities in the West of the island. His Rosalino Street, Woodbrook fashion house now caters to the needs of many professionals and men from all walks of life who desire the right fit, and look for various occasions. “I know how hard it can be to shoulder the many burdens that go hand in hand with adolescence. There’s a period of uncertainty faced by all youths and sometimes a little moral support can go a long way,” said Elie.
He has been a source of inspiration for many young people who’ve heard his story- his mother having been a single parent of 15 children and he being the last of the brood. Ecliff’s father passed away when he was just 5-years-old. “I know what it’s like to be in many of their shoes. My mother was forced to be the sole breadwinner after my father passed away. I know that’s not very easy for most mothers so because of my personal experience I will always try to help,” said Elie. He also called on society to think of the greater good. “I believe that if we each do what we can in our respective disciplines, to aid in at least one young person’s life journey, the Trinidad and Tobago we see now, can be uplifted and changed,” he said.
Elie’s menswear brand endorses positive solutions rather than an attitude of decrying the social problems faced in his native land. He encourages the fashion savvy and positive minded to follow @ecliffelie on Instagram for a view into his menswear catalogue.
Here are a few of Elie’s most recent looks as displayed on his Instagram page.
Tarrus Riley Turns The Heat Up A Notch, Releases “Like That.”
Known for his evolutionary sound, Tarrus Riley is set to kick off the summer with his new single “ Like That”, produced by DJ Frass Records. The single, which was released April 2nd, garnered solid streaming numbers via Apple music and on Apple US itunes charts, has been receiving airplay on various mainstream stations in the US and UK.
Riley, known for his impressive catalogue of hits which includes, “Good Girl Gone Bad’, “Lion Paw”, “Memory”, a soca track done with Soca music maven, Machel Montano and the unforgettable, “She’s Royal”, is no stranger to creating hits, nor is he far removed from innovation. According to a media release issued by Destine Media, “Like That’, ifuses dancehall and R&B flavours and delivers a groove geared at getting women around the world, dancing and feeling perfect within themselves.
The media release highlights that over the past few years, reggae and dancehall music have been scrutinised for its evolution of, but Tarrus believes this evolution should be enjoyed and embraced, rather than negatively labeled.
In an interview with Pat Meschino for Daily Beast, Riley said “don’t watch the tempo because I like doing new things. People are concerned with names, labels, trap, rap, hip-hop, dancehall, I can’t bother with dem things. I have always been doing different kinds of sounds and I will continue. Music is going through a change right now, people are blending and fusing, everybody wants to call it a name, but I just call it good music.”
“Like That” is another song that highlights the Jamaican artist’s ability to blend sounds while maintaining his authenticity and entertaining his fan base. Currently set to headline Best of the Best Miami Music Fest 2021, Tarrus plans on releasing a few more sings this year.
The World Needs More People Like Her. See Who, and Why.
There’s often one person whose ambitions, as herculean as they may seem to the naked eye, is necessary and humbling to those looking on from a distance. In Trinidad and Tobago, a female Primary school teacher is proving that service goes beyond the portfolio that comes when one chooses a particular career path; she’s proving that true service is heartfelt and never dispassionate.
Michelle George Bermudez wears many hats. These days, the school teacher with 21-years professional service is teaching young women between the ages of 11 and 15, the art of photography via a free digital course. The course, provided via her company, Octomedia Studios offers these young women basic photography steps inclusive of lighting, angels and composition. “My aim with this free online tutorial is to simply give back and to empower these young women,” she explained. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a very active Bermudez could be spotted competing on stage as the Queen of the Band at T&T’s Dimanche Gras for bands like Kalicharan Carnival in South, Trinidad, or acting in local productions, or even shooting photographs at major festivals, concerts, sporting events and fashion shows. Her resume is as dynamic as it is strategic. “I’ve always been involved in the arts. I’ve always loved culture,” she said, explaining that both her parents are artists who’ve been intimately involved in the creative sector and more specifically, Carnival. When it comes to giving back and mentoring the young and impressionable, Michelle’s resume also boasts strong involvement in the Girl Guides Association of Trinidad and Tobago where she has served as caption and district commissioner during her 19 years within the organization.
Michelle says she will soon be embarking on a career change and plans on adopting the titles of Director of Photography in addition to film director and producer. Her artistic background, shared by her parents and mastered by her along the way, has afforded her the tools needed to deliver workshops and special classes to those who desire such. “My goal is to teach others – especially young men and women so that they can empower themselves and enrich their lives,” she said, noting that her personal cache of resources includes models that have been crafted for film and photography sets.
Eternally grateful for the guidance afforded through mentorship by Ian Pantin- an entertainment industry stalwart, Michelle says her business model at Octomedia Studios will continue to incorporate passion and love. She understands the importance of truly enjoying a profession, and says there’s never a dull moment in her life. “I enjoy learning and it gives me even greater pleasure to pass on what I learn, to others,” she said.
With numerous years of experience as a Carnival Queen on stage at the Dimanche Gras competition in T&T, in addition to her involvement in Best Village Competitions, playing the steelpan for Panorama and of course, her photography and filmmaking experience, this school teacher is proving that service goes beyond the confines of career and can only be truly shared with the world, from a place of love.
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