Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Architecture informs DaCosta's designs

Published:Saturday | November 18, 2017 | 12:28 AMKimberley Small
Ivan Garofalo in stride on Brooklyn Bridge in a JohnEli DaCosta design.
Ivan Garofalo wearing a JohnEli DaCosta design on Brooklyn Bridge, New York.
JohnEli DaCosta

JohnEli DaCosta started off his creative career as an architecture student at the Caribbean School of Architecture, University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). Affirming the fears of parents the world over, DaCosta's interests shifted into a lesser assured career - fashion design. Recently, DaCosta showed his latest collection during The Collection MoDA fashion presentation.

If the path towards being an architect had continued, DaCosta describes a design style that would employ a modern, statement-making aesthetic, abstract and perhaps with glass, steel and exposed concrete. As he finds no divide between designing a building or a suit, it appears that his fashion aesthetic is similar to the imagined architect's style.

New York is DaCosta's mother's home base. As a result, the designer developed a relationship with the city, which serves as the backdrop for the look of his latest collection. "I love the exaggeration of the [Brooklyn] Bridge. I love the type of Gothic architecture," he explained.

"New York is like breathing inspiration and aspiration. It alludes to an idea of grandeur, that anything can happen there. I like the ideology behind New York," he told The Gleaner. DaCosta accepts there is difference between his two homes and wants Kingston to see that it, too, has the potential to exist as the type of city that never sleeps.

"I've always been into art," DaCosta told The Gleaner. Nurtured from his tenure at Wolmer's Boys' School, the young fashion designer said his creative interests carried over into tertiary education. "It was a combination of Alexander McQueen and Lady Gaga," he confessed.




In his third year of study, DaCosta noticed the industrious designs and haute couture constructions of the late Alexander McQueen.

In 2009, the pop star released her hit song and music video Bad Romance, which took McQueen's designs from glossy magazines and Parisian catwalks to the eyes of adoring pop music consumers. DaCosta's approach is perhaps as audacious as McQueen's career. Embracing his construction background, DaCosta said, "I don't see a difference between the two; the design rules or the principles that guide art are the same."

The fundamentals and principles of design already learned, DaCosta taught himself how to sew, using books and YouTube tutorials. "Even in the present collection you have to go back to YouTube to make sure you're doing it correctly," he shared.

Though he hopes to traverse into the world of womenswear, DaCosta's current attention is placed elsewhere. "Womenswear is there already. Drape any fabric in any direction and a woman would happily wear it. Right now, I'm focused on menswear, because I want to break down that line of what a man can or should wear," he said.

Asked what demographic he intends to dress, DaCosta was worried the answer would land unsatisfactorily. "I'm not leaning towards a specific person. Everyone has the capacity to dress the way they want to and express themselves as freely as possible," he said.