Trish Carmen lays out her vision

LONDON - When I started this column six weeks ago, my main goal was to open up a platform for discussion on issues that directly affected the African Fashion Industry at the same time promoting local talent.   

This week got me so excited when I heard that Zimbabwean Designer Trish Carmen, who has been based in South Africa for the past three years, had made a U-turn and is back in Zimbabwe.

I have had so many intense fashion conversations with Trish in the past, and it gives me great pleasure to know that one by one, we are pulling together, returning home to Zimbabwe to make a difference.

On her beginnings in fashion

I started fashion as a business in 2005 when I realised that even though I was passionate about fashion design, I could potentially use it as a stream of income. I then set up a mini home industry and started designing for mostly my family and friends. In no time the word began to spread and I started getting customers from all over Zimbabwe including wives of government officials and celebrities.

On what inspires Trish Carmen

My inspiration comes from different places, depending on the moment I find myself in.

When I design, a whole range of emotions, messages come to me, enabling me to build up desires that create elements that build inspiration to design with mystical appeal, magically transforming it into unique fashion.

I always work with music playing, which varies based on mood. I also love flowers; they always provide perfect coloration and texture.

Otherwise, it is often not until the completion of a collection that the inspiration is revealed.

On how she describes her collections

High end commercial classic wear with a hint of subtle uniqueness.

On working with African Celebrities

I have enormous respect for Oliver Mtukudzi as an artist and for his humanitarian work.

Dressing him always allows me to open up my creativity to meet his iconic presence.

I have dressed the likes of Judith Sephuma, Big brother Africa contenders, Victor Kunonga, Ringo, MJ from Generations to name a few. I look forward to dressing at least one African for the next Oscars.... that is my desire, and I am working towards it!

On how she describes her own personal style

Renaissance. Not literally, in the most modern sense... The idea of a rebirth of classics.

On trends

I believe fashion, and all arts, are subjective. I personally do not follow trends.

On what she feels is missing from the Zimbabwean fashion industry

Integrity and respect for authentic creativity

On which Zimbabwe designer she would like to collaborate with

I would like to see women and men who have a similar taste for being different, elegant and classically modern. I love Farai Simoyi, however It’s not a specific person... it’s more about the image.

What have you learnt in South Africa?

Fashion designing is one of the most thriving businesses worldwide and it plays a bigger part than most policy makers care to recognise in boosting the economy of a nation. It is important to produce high quality garments on strict terms of quality control.

South Africa is doing very well on the fashion scene and producing great designers who stand on world platform.

My experience has been breath-taking. I have been able to showcase on big platforms and learnt a great deal, which I hope to share with upcoming designers. I find it is always easier to teach fresh talent.

Her advice to aspiring designers

The fashion industry is competitive and you have to make sure that you are willing to learn, work hard and strive to make it. It is all about making baby steps.

Success never happens overnight and it is important to know and understand who you are as a designer.

Focus and determination are two characteristics you have to possess .You should also be able to take constructive criticism. Finally, my advice is: seek out solid business partners and create a solid business plan with a financial model.

On her plans for the future

Each morning I wake up and give thanks that on a daily basis I am living and achieving my goal in the present tense. My goal is to commercialise Trish Carmen in Zimbabwe as a household brand and opening a design and modelling school. I am very focused and ready to be part of what promises to be one of the best fashion hangouts in Africa! Zimbabwe is producing iconic fashion designers.

*Pamela is a Zimbabwean fashion journalist and fashion accessory designer based in the United Kingdom.. She can be contacted on

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