Look Out is a weekly feature every Thursday on leading and up-and-coming designers from the Caribbean and worldwide. Learn more about the designer’s brand, new developments and products.
This week Look Out, features Cee Wee Designs founder Cherie Warner.
If you have not heard the name by now, you will soon. Cee Wee Designs by Cherie Warner produces handcrafted clutches and totes designed for the modern woman. The Tobago born designer, began her foray into accessory design five years ago, after returning home from University. She studied Linguistics but always felt a pull toward the Fine Arts for as long as she could remember. Cherie began to experiment with designing and making bags. As an emerging designer, the encouragement and support received from family and friends helped her to see her potential.
With little formal training in bag construction, most of the techniques Cherie developed over the years were through trial and error. As a teenager she enrolled in a short course in sewing but credits her skill to the years she spent observing her mother on the sewing machine.
When asked about her design journey, she said:
“When I started, the designs were less complex and made primarily of fabric. Since then the designs have become more complex. I have introduced new hardware, I have diversified the medium and I have a better understanding of bag construction.”
As her body of work expands, Cherie is careful not to limit herself to any one medium for her pieces. A lover of vibrant prints, she gravitates toward the print that fits her creative mood when designing a particular clutch or tote. As her design skills expand, her brand continues to diversify and she has recently ventured into the necktie and bow-tie arena. The brand’s aesthetic epitomises chic and modern prints and textures.
“It seems that I’m a naturally colourful person on the inside and this translates to many of the pieces that I do. In each line, there is something different about the style, but my main focus is always to create collections for women who love to stand out, no matter the occasion. I would like to think that my bags exude confidence and timeless sophistication.”
And so with pray and a glance at her vision board, Cherie starts each day with creativity on her mind. So far she has produced feted clutches like the “Black Diamond” and “Pink Trinity,” chic colour-block styles of contrasting black, white and pink hues. The “Blue Lagoon,” a teal and pink statement clutch, is particularly striking. (View these pieces on her website)
Her much vaunted collections was featured across the region. Cherie’s designs have been on display at; the Tobago Jazz festival for the past few years, the Caribbean Fashion Week 2015 and Tobago Fashion Week in 2014. As a result of these events, her brand has received exposure locally, regionally and internationally. These experiences continue to motivate Cherie to build the Cee Wee Designs brand.
Public relations and marketing are of course essential to develop her brand. To expand her reach Cee Wee designs maintain a strong social media presence. Regarding the Trinidad and Tobago accessory industry in general, Cherie feels that the extensive importation of products needs to change. She postulates that imports can be reduced by a growth in manufacturing.
The designer’s latest collection “Crosswalk” reflects this growth. Inspired by a picture of a hallway with black and white furniture. Cherie has a monochromatic bent with her latest offering.
“It’s been a very long road leading up to the release of CrosswaIk. There have been many long days and sleepless nights. Everything from designing, editing, sourcing materials, to creating samples. Luckily I have an awesome team working with me, assisting in everything from sourcing supplies to PR and marketing.”
Crosswalk debuted with a black and white bang at Tobago Fashion Coda 2016 last night. As the waves crashed unto the shore in the background, models sashayed down the runway of the Magdalena Grand with Cherie’s clutches and totes draped over their arms. Cherie’s maturation as a designer was visible in the excellently constructed bags. Beautiful matte and textured materials and trompe l’oeil graphic patterns all in black and white were the focal point of this classic collection.
As we do with every designer featured on Adornami Caribbean, we asked Cherie what the words “To adorn” meant to her.
“To me, adorn means to enhance, to impact, to create and to release your inner beauty to the world. I want my customers to feel empowered and confident.”
Cee Wee Designs New Collection Crosswalk
Photos captured at Tobago Fashion Coda 4, held at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, April 2016.
Photography by Tameika Fletcher Birmingham, Editor & Creative Director Adornami.