Alyssa Goddard is the owner, designer and creative mind behind Cambria Costume and Design, a design company which was launched last summer. She is also one half of the winning duo of last year’s first edition of Xhosa’s Design Challenge and last year designed a section of the Meta Worldwide Kadooment band. She took a little time out of her day to speak to us about her career.
Zeitgeist: How long have you been a designer? What made you get into it?
Alyssa Goddard: I’ve been designing for about 10 years now. I first showcased at BMEX [in] 2009. I’ve been around fashion my entire life; my grandmother was a needle worker, my mother is a needle worker and my older sisters both modeled. [For] my first photo shoot I actually used my oldest sister as my model.
Z: Did you receive any kind of training or education in Fashion and/or Costume Design?
AG: My mother was and still is my teacher.
Z: Has she had any training or education or is she self-taught?
AG: It’s something that you can say runs in the family; my grandmother was her teacher.
Z: Will you be continuing that tradition?
AG: If my daughter is interested, yes.
Z: That is a very unique family heirloom. Who are some of your design idols?
AG: Lol yes my family is very artistic. At the top of my list would have to be the late Alexander McQueen. I still watch his fashion shows. John Galliano and Tim Burton – who is actually a writer and director – but his films really inspired me.
Z: Tim Burton’s films do have a very distinct aesthetic. Other than his work, what inspires you as a designer?
AG: Life. I didn’t have the best childhood, I became a “loner”, [there weren’t] a lot of people I could relate to, so I turned to art. My room was filled with sketches inspired by a lot of different things. I guess my way of bringing my art to life is by creating the garments.
Z: You recently launched Cambria Costume and Design, could you tell me a little more about that?
AG: Cambria Costume and Design was my rebranding. I had taken a break from fashion for a while. I honestly felt like I was going to give up. Barbados is a very difficult place to do what I really wanted to do as a designer, which is costuming for film. I felt like I would get stuck doing something like swim wear, but after I had my daughter in 2016 I decided to rebrand. Cambria is her middle name and in less than a year I’ve done things fashion and business wise I never thought I would have done so soon. Cambria is costuming for films, carnival etc and also fashion, which I plan to do more of this year.
Z: What was the name of your brand before you changed it?
AG: Melange Image. [Which] was co-owned by one of my sisters and a friend.
Z: You competed in and won the first edition of Xhosa’s Design Challenge last year, what was that like?
AG: It was hectic lol. I hate being in front of cameras so it was a new experience for me. [It] also was my first time making a carnival costume.
Z: What made you sign up for the show?
AG: My sister talked me into doing it lol. I always wanted to do Crop Over costumes but never had the opportunity to do so. I had a lot of sketches just laying around, she saw the ad and told me I should enter. [I] ended up entering as a team with [my partner] Caleb ‘cause he does all of my wire bending etc.
Z: Aside from having designed a section in Xhosa as part of your prize, you also designed for Meta Worldwide, how did you get involved in that?
AG: I actually met with the owner after I had sent in my application for Xhosa. He wanted more local designers, which was great ‘cause we have a lot of Trinidadian designers designing for Crop Over and not [many] opportunities for the local designers to get involved.
Z: So both opportunities sort of happened at the same time.
Z: You made costumes for one of the cosplayers in Meagan Marie and Hanime’s Cosplay’s Wonder Woman shoot as well as for one of the contestants in last year’s Star Strut, are designing for cosplay and model searches/pageants an avenue you see yourself delving into more?
AG: I love cosplay so yes. I actually did a fashion show at Animekon in 2012. I love Japanese culture and fashion. I got to do some fabric shopping in Osaka, Japan in September last year. As for school model searches/pageants, yes. I love working with some of the kids. This is actually my third time I think working with [Queen’s College]. I actually judged one of the shows a few years ago. I [was] also working with students for Kolij Runway a few years ago as well.
Z: Which student did you design for in last year’s Star Strut?
AG: Atara Padmore. She placed First Runner Up.
Z: You kind of touched on the limited opportunities designers have earlier, but I’d like you to expand on it a bit. Besides Crop Over, would you say cosplay, model searches and pageants are pretty much the only other opportunities costume designers have in Barbados to practise their craft?
AG: Basically, I’ve done work on a short film which went on to be nominated for a Barbados film award but there is no category for Best Costume Design. Opportunities are very limited and what makes it worst is the fact that you honestly have to know someone who can help you get your foot in the door. I find recently I’ve been getting a lot of DMs on IG from photographers who come across my page saying they never heard of me and they have been asking around or looking around for designers who do what I do to collaborate with for more creative shoots.
Z: What short film was that?
AG: Dreamshire by Vonley Smith.
Z: Oh okay. I know that film.
AG: Yes I designed the Dream Keeper’s gown.
Z: That was a very beautiful gown.
Z: How do people usually react and respond to your work?
AG: I usually get: “Wow! Was this done in Barbados?”, which I think is silly, or “Omg! How comes you’re not more popular?” It’s usually good feedback.
Z: You said before that you plan to get more into fashion. So does that mean that people can expect a full collection from you in the future and possibly see your clothing in stores?
AG: It’s something I’ve been working on. Trying not to rush it, but hopefully I can launch a few pieces later this year.
Z: Are you looking to do more one of a kind pieces or ready to wear or both?
AG: Both; ready to wear but with a few exclusive pieces.
Z: What is your next project?
AG: I have a few projects, some which I can’t say much about. Also working on this year’s Crop Over costumes and a few photography projects which I’m really looking forward to.