GUYANA X ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA | Shasha Designs x Launesha Barnes

The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange


This look is inspired by Antigua and Barbuda National Costume and their Indigenous people, fusing elements of their Arawak tradition with their National wear. The neck of the dress is made with Burlap and is covered with seeds from the shac shac (flamboyant) tree. It is in the shape of a stick figure which represents one of the creatures that their shaman transforms into. The bodice is made with hand dyed Madras which is Antigua and Barbuda’s national fabric for their National costume. The centre of the bodice is made with palm leaves and fibres woven into a plain weave. Shac Shac seeds, jumbie seeds and buck beads create a triangular form on the front bodice of the design. The architecture of the Arawak Ajoupa (home) specifically the roof, inspired the full skirt of the dress, which is made with brown cotton and dyed burlap. The centre of the skirt is tie-dyed using natural onion skin and beetroot. Buck beads were sewn on the red panels of the skirt. Tibiseri straw (a fibre extracted from a Mauritia flexuosa found in Guyana) was woven with the palm leaves from Antigua (date palm) to create the plain weave used along the bodice of the dress as well as the front panel of the skirt. All other materials for this garment have been found in Antigua.

Shasha Designs

Keisha Edwards is the owner and Creative Director of Shasha Designs. She launched her career in fashion by participating in the Guyana Fashion Week in 2008, where her designs received rave reviews, motivating her to launch her first fashion show in 2010 under the name Fierce Expressions. Keisha has showcased collections in Guyana, Haiti, Curaçao, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the USA. Keisha believes that education is key to national and regional development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Guyana and has completed a certificate program in Fabric Selection and Design Style at The New School – Parsons School of Designs in the USA. She
is currently enrolled at the Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design, pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design.

Launesha Barnes

A recent graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the Caribbean Academy of Fashion Design (CAFD) under the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), Launesha has actively pursued her passion in the creative sphere for years. She showcased her first collection in the National Independence Fashion Show in Antigua, 2010, again in 2011, and upon her return from studying abroad in 2017. She has also participated in several regional and international fashion events including Carifesta, Suriname, 2013; Cameron University Fashion Week, Oklahoma, USA, 2014; Designer Critic competition in Trinidad, 2016 under the mentorship of Sean Griffith Perez, a Trinidadian designer; and finally her thesis fashion presentation, “Voices” in Trinidad and Tobago, 2017. She is presently working on building and establishing her brand TAOTM as well as co-chairing a budding Non-Profit Organisation for the development of the Arts set to launch in 2018.