Sunday, 8 April 2012

KENEEA’S CHOICE: The cover girl talks inspiration, making a difference – and books

FACE VALUE: Linton-George takes a hands-on approach to life.

Fashion entrepreneur and bonafide mogul-in-the-making Keneea Linton-George is a good sport when it comes to dishing on all the topics that are currently trending in her universe. So much so that we had to bring you Part II of our hour-long sit-down at New Kingston’s Spanish Court Hotel for April’s cover exclusive. We got Keneea to open up about everything from her weird relationship with books, to transforming regional fashion, to what she considers her biggest fear.

TALLAWAH: Word on the street suggests that viewers are thrilled that Mission Catwalk has decided to take on the Caribbean as a fresh twist for Season 2. Many of us never expected such a move until the announcement came earlier this year.
Linton-George: I think anything you do on a Caribbean scale is better. For Mission Catwalk, it was better to branch out because it widens the talent pool for us. You get a much more amazing group of designers in terms of talent and a lot of them are trained, whether it’s from a community college or FIT in Florida, or the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale, or somewhere like that. It was a great move for us.

Does this therefore signal that you and your team are out to effectively revolutionize Caribbean fashion?
What we really want to do is bring growth to the industry because it’s kind of dormant right now. We have a lot of self-taught talented people, but it’s really going nowhere. We need to have local designers understanding that it’s not just the hustle mentality, where today I sew a dress so tomorrow I’m a designer. It’s about getting the proper training and understudying the international designers. Until we have our designers go to fashion school and start working at a certain level, it is really going nowhere – which is why we offer the scholarships for them to study in London, plant them in the international industry because that’s where they recruit the designers from, the fashion schools.”

Let’s talk culture. What do you enjoy reading on your downtime?
I’m not a recreational reader. I’ve never completed a novel in my entire life. I’ve never completed a book in my entire life. I always get half-way and get bored and put it down. I will read important chapters and newspaper articles, but I have never read an entire novel for recreation.

Did you study English Literature in high school?
I did Literature and my English teacher was shocked that I got a Grade 2. And then I did Literature again [for] A Levels, and she was shocked that I didn’t read any of the books and I still passed all my exams. I would just sit in class, I would listen and I would read the Cliff’s notes and then I would write a damn good essay. Of course, I had to do a lot of reading when I did my Bacelors in Philosophy at UWI after I was accepted to study Law at the University of London. My twin sister is also not a recreational reader, but she just completed her PhD at the University of London. For my 50th birthday, I might challenge myself to complete an entire novel.

That’s a rather interesting accomplishment to get done…. by age 50.
(Laughs). I think I have ADD. My head starts hurting me, my eyes start running. I’ll watch a documentary, but I’m not gonna read a book. I used to watch the movie versions of some of the books I was supposed to read.

What motivates Keneea most?
Visual stimulation. If I see something lovely, it motivates me to design something. And whenever I travel I always get inspired.

What would you say is your biggest fear?
Probably losing a close family member. That is one of the few things I tend to worry about. Everything else is cool. I’m not a worrisome kind of person. I’m very easy-going.

>> PART I: Keneea on her booming career, marriage and babies.


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