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|Paul Burnette’s on a natural high these days|
|Saturday, 18 February 2012 21:13|
-Creating fireworks in the local designing fraternity
PAUL BURNETTE is on a natural high these days. The Bartica-born designer is in the middle of his biggest design project to date. He is the brain behind the “Fireworks” Mash band recently launched by leading food and beverage company Banks DIH Limited. The 37-year-old father of two is a fashion enthusiast who has designed many winning pieces over the years. His creativity goes back as far as primary school.
He recalled that at that time he didn’t even know he was designing. He would tell his friends how to dress, and what tweaks were needed in their outfits. He could also remember his sisters seeking out his opinions when dressing to go to parties and pageants.
Perhaps his defining moment was in Grade 10, when he designed a skirt-suit for a niece to go to a Christmas party. A seamstress aunt sewed the outfit, which Paul remembers vividly: “It was navy blue, with a puff-sleeved off-shoulder chamois top. The top also featured silver baby ribbons and six silver buttons that came down the front. It had a pencil skirt at a time when (that) wasn’t in style”. Thereafter, he began observing how his aunt cut out clothes.
Another important step in his development was when Paul not only designed, but was able to sew an outfit for his wife to attend a staff party at her workplace. What started him sewing for himself was that, when he took his sketches to someone else to sew, there would be some pucker or dart wrong in the design. Learning to sew by trial and error, Paul said, although there were faults in the dress, his wife loved it nonetheless; and after carrying it to an experienced seamstress for some minor adjustments, she wore it with pride.
His aunt continued to be very supportive; and Paul, who by this time had long since moved to the city, would call and seek her advice over the phone on making complicated cuts.
His journey led him to design for many pageants, including Miss UGSS, Miss St. Roses High School, Miss Talented Teen, Miss Bartica Regatta, and the Miss Guyana Universe. He recently visited the USA as a representative for the Guyana Fashion Weekend Committee.
Paul has coordinated many shows, including Miss Bartica Regatta, Miss talented Teen (Bartica) and presently the Guyana Model Search, Designers and Stylist Portfolio/Guyana Fashion Weekend. The designer who said his strength is in designing sexy casuals credits his 2010 GFW collaboration with designer Mwanza Glen for “Bumblebee” designs as his first big show. Still finding himself, Paul, whose artistic talent was never refined in school, also lists painting as one of his strengths, and integrates it into his designs.
For example, paint, sequins and a glue gun are all he needs to transform a simple black dress into a head-turning outfit.
Makeup application is also on Paul’s resume, two skills he credits to his mother and seven sisters. A salon owned by his ‘God sister’ provided another excellent opportunity for him to explore his artistic talents, and he had no shortage of nieces on which to practise his skills.
He eventually went for professional training, attending workshop sessions facilitated by local beauty expert Pamela Dillon.
A teacher who teaches Accounts and Economics at a highly recognized private institution, it is somewhat of a challenge balancing all his activities right now. The Banks Mash Camp located near its Thirst Park Headquarters is a literal camp, as Paul and some members of the team have moved in over the past three days, sleeping, eating and working at the Mash camp.
Concept behind the costumes and float
Paul first conceptualized his costumes by thinking about the origin of beverage. He thought of drinks like Piwari and Fly, made by Guyana’s indigenous people, so he decided to create his costumes combining an ethnic look with a carnival look. The waistband features a loin cloth design and an elaborate headdress.
Then he thought “I am Guyanese, I will celebrate. What happens when we celebrate… Fireworks!” and that was the idea behind the firework element in the costume. He jokingly warns revelers to “Gyrate at your own risk” (because of the pointers forming the base of the fireworks). The float, he says, will really speak of Banks DIH and their contribution to Guyana. It will feature a modernized version of the ship on the Banks label. To highlight Guyana’s tourism, the float will also feature models depicting animals as well as a flowing waterfall. Even as he said this, Paul was excited. He noted that he can’t wait to see his band. “I think I am more excited than the people who will wear it,” he said.
Noting that he’s seen other designers’ works and doesn’t feel threatened, he declared that he doesn’t want to seem too confident.
This year, he notes, making the float is about building his reputation, and not about the money. His mother called, advising that he should give Banks DIH their money’s worth, “and pay your staff well”. Paul says his good relationship with his team, whom he says spoils him, will see team members watching his back, and team members say they are not working hard for him to lose.
But the competition will be a challenging one, which he likens to an athletic sport, saying that he will have to run against Usain Bolt.
He has lots of plans post-Mashramani. Firstly, wanting to give back to Bartica, Paul is planning a tea party to raise funds for the community. He also wants to form a “Big Brother” group of men who will go in and speak to the youths. Next, he has a Mr. Guyana pageant planned for June or July.
Paul encourages men to get involved in the art form of designing. He says he has had people come to him and admit that they like designing, but do not want to be thought of as homosexual. ”We have to stop the nonsense of stigmatizing males and saying that, because they like singing, dancing and designing, they’re gay. Creative arts are for everyone!”
Mr. Paul Burnette can be contacted on telephone numbers 650-0186 or 687-8000.
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