If Carrie Bradshaw ever visited Trinidad, she would drive straight from the airport to #6 Carlos Street in Woodbrook. She would go, despite the absence of pink tutus and outlandish ensembles, to be converted by the most exquisite, elegant dresses, shirts and trousers into a devotee of Meiling minimalism.

A Meiling design is unmistakable. You know it from the impeccable stitch, the gorgeous silhouette, the classic cut. It can take the form of a loose white tunic, with a scoop neck, over-long sleeves, and wooden buttons sewn onto a white appliqué strip that meanders across the front. Or a vest laden with appliqué flowers, over an unbleached, unhemmed skirt slit to show a flash of white underskirt.

Her designs range from the girlish white dress of broderie anglaise to the dramatic long gown in black, splashed with red, blue, and green, with a plunging neckline and a ruffled belt of the same fabric.

On her return to Trinidad from studying at the Lucie Clayton School of Design in London in the 1970s, Meiling opened a studio in a renovated garage. Within a few years she had ignited the local fashion scene with her impeccable lines and enthralling runaway shows. She is renowned for her work in fine linens and natural fabrics, and her superior workmanship. For each biannual couture show she creates one-off garments by hand, paying close attention to the detailing of every piece. Each item is unique ‘ be it a little black dress, a high-collared white shirt or an extraordinary wedding dress.

Her latest collection, Last Train to San Fernando, is inspired by Johnny Duncan’s 1957 eponymous song. The theme of travel is translated into a muted palette in natural fabrics with themes like madras and checkered weaves in cotton and linen, as well as rich brocades and diaphanous silk chiffon.

Beware though: Meiling’s atelier is not a place to enter unarmed. To venture through these doors without a platinum card is to risk dementia. The torment of being able to touch, but not buy, might kill you.

  • Fashionistas in Trinidad take great pride in owning ‘a Meiling’, so if you see something you want at a show, be sure to let her know asap, or be at her atelier early the next morning. They go that quickly’
  • Meiling’s ready-to-wear line is available exclusively at Micles under the name MSquared.
  • Learn more about the maestro in Meiling: Fashion Designer by Judy Raymond
  • The Meiling line is available in select boutiques in Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Thomas USVI and Martinique.
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