My Island Muse: Desiree D’Aguiar

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Swimwear inspired by your favourite local artist or the art of everyday life. With this vision in mind, curator and designer of Winifred Taylor Swimwear, Desiree D’Aguiar founded the unique line of swimsuits in 2014. In just a few short months, the brand has already made its mark on the swimwear fashion world with its brilliant art inspired designs, bold patterns and a golden feature on the one and only FashionBomb Daily. So what makes these bikinis such a hit? D’Aguiar has successfully merged art and fashion while making it chic and comfortable. Each collection “draws inspiration from the world of visual art, taking art right off the gallery wall and placing it on curves that can be found on beaches around the world”. After viewing WT’s Spring/Summer 2015 launch Trifecta, I was eager to learn more about the creative mind behind Winifred Taylor.

Tell me about yourself and the journey that led to the creation of Winifred Taylor SwimWear.
I’m the first of three children. My mother is from the Bahamas and my father is from Guyana. I have a diploma  in Fashion Design from George Brown. For as long as I could remember, art and design have always been my thing. I still remember my first sewing machine, my mom bought it for me when I was ten. Like many others, I started out designing clothing for my Barbies. When I reflect on my time at George Brown, it was definitely a memorable and enjoyable experience. However at one point during my studies, I decided to take a year off to really determine what it is that I wanted to do. It was during this break I discovered my love for the art of designing lingerie and swimwear. After my break I returned to George Brown pumped and ready to focus on swimwear design. I absolutely love the creativity you can have with swimwear. In 2014 I launched the Jelly Collection which is my first official collection for Winifred Taylor.

Your line is endearingly called “Winifred Taylor”. Definitely unique. How’d you pen the name?
The name is very special to me. Winifred was my paternal grandmother and Taylor was my maternal grandfather. My grandmother had an amazing sense of style. She was spunky, beautiful and had a regal presence about her. My grandfather was also quite the dapper dresser. Winifred Taylor is the synergy of these two important people in my life.

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You describe Winifred Taylor as an “art based swimwear” brand. Take us through the process that goes into creating one of your pieces.
Tons of research and art inspiration. I’m always on the lookout for talented artists that work well with my vision. Of course I like to stay in the know with market trends; Mercedes Benz Swim Week Miami is definitely a must watch for all designers and swimwear enthusiasts. Also, some old fashioned pounding of the pavement by visiting various art galleries in and around Toronto, always keeps art at the centre of my designs. I’m really lucky to have a wonderful intern that assists me with my research and daily tasks. My first collection, the Jelly Collection was inspired by a picture I’d taken at Ripley’s Aquarium.  Standing there in front of the jellyfish tank, I remember admiring the long tentacles of the jellyfish and thinking “wouldn’t that be cool on a swimsuit”. If you look at the first collection you’ll see the colour and construct of the line are all inspired by that jellyfish. For my S/S 2015 collection Trifecta, I was inspired by local Toronto artist Crystal Fhang Ban. Visiting Crystal’s house and seeing all her art displayed, inspired the design and feel of this latest collection. Art based swimwear is definitely a unique concept, but people have caught on to it and the feedback has been great. Art or the art of everyday life always inspires each collection.

What type of woman do you envision wearing your designs? Do you think about this during your design process?
I do and I don’t. To be honest during the time I was working on the Jelly Collection, I wasn’t too skinny. So I wanted something that was high waisted and provided more coverage. I also knew that I wanted something different than what was currently on the market, hence the whole “art based” fusion. With Trifecta, I’ve definitely listened to shoppers and created a one piece. Lastly, I believe the Winifred Taylor woman is a confident woman who loves to travel, loves to be seen and most importantly values unique one of a kind pieces.

Highlight of your career thus far:
My photoshoots are always an important aspect of what I do. My first photoshoot was truly a labour of love, so many women came together to help bring my vision to reality. That first collection was truly a battle of will and confidence. Once again with Trifecta, seeing Crystal’s art come life on my designs has been an unforgettable experience.

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Biggest obstacle thus far:
Me! (laughs) I’d say letting go is my biggest issue. Letting go of things I’d  normally take full control of hasn’t been easy. Luckily I have a great intern and a team of people always willing and ready to help me coordinate. In a way, relinquishing control has been good for me, it’s given me a lot more time to focus on creating.

Favourite place to visit when in Bahamas?
Can I say Atlantis? Would that be bad? (laughs) I was recently in the Bahamas, all I can say is the entire island is really beautiful and it continues to develop. When I’m in the Bahamas it truly feels like home.

Your advice to Caribbean women:
Simple; listen to your elders they really have years of experience and wisdom under their belts. They’ve been there before and never take them for granted. Many times when I think of my grandparents, I can still hear some of the gems of wisdom they’ve provided me with over the years.

What’s next for Ms. Winifred Taylor?
I’m currently working on getting this collection (Trifecta) out for mid April. Also, I’ve already selected the artist that I’ll be working with for my next collection so stay tuned.

Link Love
IG: winifred.taylor
FB: Winifred Taylor
Twitter: Winifred_Taylor