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Eileen Douglas





Eileen DouglasBorn in 1914, Douglas' career in fashion started at the tender age of 15 when she traded in her mother's hand stitcher for an electric Singer sewing machine. And though her mother had chastised her about her decision, it was her mother's words that still linger in her memory even today that became a pivotal force which pushed her to an exciting career in the world of Caribbean fashion.

Douglas knew she would have to find a way to pay off for the new electric sewing machine she had been brave enough to buy. Growing up in St Augustine, Douglas welcomed anyone in the area that came to her to have their dresses made.

At 18, Douglas attended the Trap Hagen School of Design in New York. She stayed in the city with her sister who resided there and worked in the day sewing buttons on bridal gowns and went to school at night. After working and studying on a double shift arrangement, Douglas became very ill and had to be sent home after a five week stay in the hospital. During the hospital confinement Douglas' beautiful dark hair turned absolutely white.

It was a shock to Douglas's mother when she returned home at the age of 20 with white hair. Douglas quickly realised that her new hair colour was making a statement and decided to leave it like that. She went straight back to dressmaking using the new skills she had acquired in New York. Her business started to thrive when an Italian man by the name Antonio Costello saw her work and decided to take her and another seamstress, Mimi Dorci, to Italy to do a fashion show there.

On her return, Douglas opened her new shop "Dorci's" on Frederick Street in Port of Spain.

One of the most memorable moments in Douglas's career came in 1965 when South African singer Miriam Makeba came to Trinidad and visited her shop. Expressing her love for her clothing, Makeba invited Douglas to come to New Jersey, where she lived, to make an entire wardrobe for her. She went. Designing approximately 60 to 70 outfits in three months, Douglas and Makeba became good friends.





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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024