Francesca Lake - Destiny Fulfilled
Designer Francesca Lake is living her dream. Though she had always had an interest in creative art, it was not until she was a teenager that she had a passion to pursue fashion. But she didn't know how.
Lake believes that it was her mother who indirectly influenced her interest in designing. "I credit my mother for my interest in fashion, as most girls do. I recall going through old photo albums and legitimately being upset that she never saved any of her good pieces for me," Lake told Outlook.
As a teenager, her enthusiasm grew, and she spent her weekends convincing her father why she needed to go to the Pernel Charles Arcade in downtown Kingston. She needed to find new ways to express herself. She spent many nights cutting, pinning, gluing and painting her designs - sewing came later when she was 16 years old and her mother bought her her first sewing machine.
She remembers hauling the machine to the Negril strip in the heat of Independence weekend one year, because she just had to finish a piece she was sewing. As expected, her friends were a little embarrassed.
After completing her studies at the University of the West Indies, Lake entered the working world, but her passion for design never left her. It was all she could think about. It was then that she realised that there was a missing piece to her - a destiny that she needed to fulfil.
Los Angeles seemed like the next option for Lake. Born in London, England, she moved to Jamaica when she was only six months old. Having explored her options in New York and Europe, it was the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles that really caught her interest.
"Especially when I found out it is the alma mater of designers such as Monique Lhuillier and Leanne Marshall. And the weather helped, too," she quipped.
The culture was also very different. She would see people dressed like power rangers in the supermarket, and no one stared or looked twice. She used this to her advantage, to explore her own creativity.
So far, the highlights of her career was being selected as one of the 12 designers at FIDM's exclusive debut show and having one of her pieces featured on America's Next Top Model (ANTM), and walking down the aisle in her own design on her wedding day.
"I was fortunate enough to have one of the pieces from my SS17 collection selected by stylist Nicola Formichetti to be featured on the premiere of America's Next Top Model. A few pieces from that collection were pulled, and in the end, my hand-dyed pannier corset gown made the final cut. It was an incredible experience having one of my pieces be alongside designers I look up to, yet still able to hold my own," she recalled of the ANTM experience.
Currently an associate technical designer at TOBI women's wear, as well as making custom pieces, she advises aspiring designers to "focus on what you do the best and let that guide your creative process, carving your own path in a creative industry that will allow you to be uniquely you".