For Carnival fashionistas and costume lovers, the name Laura Narayansingh probably isn’t new to you. The 25-year-old has built quite a name for herself over the last few years, mostly due to Carnival. The architect-slash-designer has become synonymous with carnival itself: first by designing sections in Fantasy, then Hart’s, and even now as she gears up for her first carnival with Bliss. But her name is more than just a name, it’s her brand. Laura’s Monday Wear collections over the last few years have sold out instantly and glittered the streets of Port of Spain for those two days, and she’s ready to take it to a whole other level: the rest of the year.
What? You might be thinking. It’s a totally normal reaction – and truthfully mine, too, when I heard of the idea of using Monday Wear year-round, but like everything Laura does, her newest release Anyday Wear, was executed perfectly. But before we can understand what this collection is truly about, we have to start at the very beginning: Carnival 2015, and Laura’s first section for Fantasy Carnival.
Alongside her cousin Kathryn Inniss, Laura’s introduction to the costume design world was an unforgettable one – though she certainly would change many things about her first design, Fantasy’s Midnight in Paris now that she’s learned a few more things. While she had just returned home from 5 years studying Architecture (and a minor in Art) at the University of Miami, this wasn’t Laura’s first foray into designing costumes – though it’s not in the way that you think.
“I’ve always designed costumes in a way,” Laura explained. “I entered a costume design competition when I was in Maria Regina.”
The NALIS competition required her to design a costume for a Barbie doll – which Laura took very seriously. She had a big box under her bed full of old costumes from friends and family that she’d take apart and make her own creations. She won the competition in primary school, and the Laura we know today was born. So after wanting to design costumes for a while, and finally getting the opportunity when she returned home, she was definitely in for an awakening.
“The process is very intense,” she added. “It’s much more intense than putting a costume together from a box under your bed. It’s not like that”
This costume entailed lots of research – into colours, elements, beading, feathers, techniques – and definitely lots of learning. With the help of a mentor, Laura and Kathryn were able to pull off their first-ever section – something she describes as a “labour of love.” And there was no turning back. She’s designed a section every year since her first costume in 2015 – once more with her cousin in Fantasy, and then two years on her own in Hart’s. For Laura, she felt like Carnival was the best avenue to build her creative brand – and Laura Narayansingh the brand emerged.
In pursuit of building her brand, Carnival 2015 also brought the unofficial launch of Laura Narayansingh Monday Wear, though on a much smaller scale than what she’s used to now. With Monday Wear still not having fully taken off, Laura found excitement in making costumes – more like forcing them, she says – for her friends and family.
“[LN] Monday Wear came about because I wanted all my friends to be wearing something I designed,” she said with a laugh. “It ended up being 14 of us, and I was so proud whenever people asked where we got our outfits.”
But she’d created a (beautiful) monster, and the next year her friends and family were asking her what she was making for them that year. She took on a few other clients – her first paying customers – and hosted a mini-launch, and LNMW was born.
“I love doing Monday Wear because it’s something for a woman to wear to feel different,” she explained.
“Tuesday, you’re kind of forced into a section. But Monday, you can be that alter ego you want to be – whoever it is, you can be that person.”
It was that mindset that birthed HER the many, Laura’s most recent MW collection. She wanted to create something that could cater to all of the different people and personalities and personas that women embody, and to allow them to be exactly who they want to be – if only for one day. Her MW18 collection sold out immediately, and she couldn’t fulfill all of the requests.
“Carnival has become more of a fashion and an image thing than it ever was before,” she added, as explanation. “Which is why I think Monday Wear has gotten so popular.”
But why keep Monday Wear for just Monday? That was Laura’s question. In fact, she originally designed all of her pieces with the hope that it would be a recyclable piece in women’s wardrobes. But she soon realized that the textures of fabrics she’s used in her MW collections weren’t exactly conducive to everyday looks – and so Anyday Wear was born.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily as transitional as I’d once hoped it could be – I’m not going to be naïve about it,” she mentioned. “But besides that, there are a lot of people who don’t play carnival, and I want to reach anyone and everyone, not just carnival lovers.”
Anyday Wear is Laura’s first non-Carnival-related clothing collection, and it hopes to give women the same feeling of carnival, but for more regular usage. Her first piece, a spin-off of Von from her MW18 collection, is a draped bodysuit with dramatic sleeves and lots of movement. It’s the perfect statement piece tucked into a pant or skirt, but Laura chose it because it was the only piece that is truly 100% Trini. She wanted to do a piece that was entirely sourced and made locally – and Anyday Wear embodies everything it means to be Trinidadian: confident, bold, classic and subtly sexy. It brings the Carnival confidence to the other 363 days of the year.
“Anyday Wear really is a way to have people feel this empowered feeling any day of the year,” she explained. “Not just on Carnival Monday.”