Are you starting to feel a little chilly now the British weather has decided to act it's full-on seasonal self? Hopefully this gem will warm you up. This is Part Four of our series 'Mothers and Daughters: Talking Style'.
My cousin, Ayesha, and I caught up for the first time in TWO decades in her birth country, Barbados ,a few months back. Ayesha, a Fashion Business graduate, Stylist and Fashion Designer, now lives in Miami, Florida. We had noted that we both visited Barbados but never at the same time. So this year we planned and booked so that we could finally catch up! Hurricanes Irma and Maria respectively tried their level best to keep us apart. Ayesha's flight was cancelled as the airport was flooded and it was touch and go as to whether she, her daughter Zainab and my Aunt Ingrid (Ayeshas mother Ingrid has two daughters, her eldest Sandra, Ayesha and a son, Mustafa. Are you keeping up?) would make it before I had to leave for London. The Gods finally gave everyone a break and we sat and chatted happily together a day before I left. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as we enjoyed ourselves. If nothing else, drink in the promise of sunshine and their lilting Barbadian accents.
"Ok ladies. Introduce yourselves".
Ayesha: "My name is Ayesha Ibrahim. I'm your cousin. And this is my mom, Ingrid Ibrahim. She's your aunt".
"You're loving this aren't you! Ok Ayesha, if you could tell us a little bit about your mums style".
00:25 Ayesha:"My moms style is very comfortable. Extremely comfortable. Whatever is comfortable. Doesn't matter the colour but she likes a lot of white. You like a lot of white. See? *points to Ingrids outfit* White. But whatever is comfortable and relaxing my mum likes. Something flowy".
Ingrid: "Well I'm actually Ingrid Ibrahim". *raucous but slightly awkward (me) laughter*
00:51 "Good start".
Ingrid: "Arlene equals home. Arlene is a home name so its comforting. My father named me Arlene. My sister named me Ingrid. So anyone from home, family. It's Arlene. But? Ingrid Ibrahim. I'm Karen's aunt. I'm her father's sister".
"And tell us a little bit about Ayesha's style".
1:16 Ingrid: "Ayeshas style is…Ayesha. I wouldn't say comfortable. It's Ayesha. Ayesha style is Ayesha. It's no duplicate. It's original. She doesn't make one or two. It's Ayesha. ASMI*".
1:36 "Does your mum or has your mum ever given you advice on what to wear?"
Ayesha: "No, you know".
Ayesha: "I used to get my stuff made for me. Every event from young. And whatever I pick, whatever I like, whatever I go to get made. Once it's something I really loved my mum encouraged it. Even when other people didn't. My mom encouraged it".
2:04 "Question to you. *turns to Ingrid* has Ayesha ever given you any advice or does she currently give you advice on what to wear? And I know that you're laughing because I know what the answer is".
Ingrid: "My clothes were my uniform so you saw me only in uniform because I'm a retired nurse. But now I tend to wear…I love comfortable clothes. But I might pick up a pink skirt and put a blue top on top and she'll say, 'Nooo you're not blending!' So that's the only advice I receive. When you say 'No, you should wear that with this'. And I respect that. But it's not changing the style. It's changing clashing colours".
2:48 "Have you ever stolen each others clothing? ayesha have you ever worn anything of your mums or vice versa?"
Ayesha: "Well. I'll tell you a story".
*Winks at Ayesha* "Ok i'll make myself comfortable".
Ayesha: "I was in a pageant, right? I was in Miss Bikini Barbados or something. We had this big event and I couldn't find anything to wear. And my mum had this sequinned stretchy palazzo, very sparkly, pants. And my mum is not very….she was, like, comfortable and this was real, like, 'out there'. And I was, like, 'You see that, that big pants? I'm very skinny. I fit into one pants foot'. And that's exactly what I did. I squeezed myself into one pants foot. It became like a tube dress. And I took the other piece and I draped it down the side and it looked like a one shoulder. And it was a stunner. And nobody knew that it that was my moms pants I was wearing. And I took it back to Florida because I was, like, this is a nice outfit!"
3:49 "Ingrid have you ever stolen any of Ayesha's clothing".
Ingrid: "It would only fit on my finger! *laughter* . No no no. Ayesha style is Ayesha.
"Has your mum ever bought you an item of clothing that you didn't like?"
"...or had anything made?"
Ayesha: "No. No".
"No? You lucky thing!"
Ayesha: "Because I always picked them".
00:18 "Ingrid do you have any clothing memories of items that you cherished or…?"
Ingrid: "Well. I was the biggest in my family. So my clothes had to be made for me. It wasn't the time when you could go into town and buy something. But what I didn't like was that what my sister could wear, I couldn't. So my clothes had to be pleated to fit my size. So in a sense I never wore anything that I shouldn't look comfortable in and they were always clothes that fit you nicely. Drape your body well. Not squeezed into or anything that was bulging here or there. So I would say that from that time until now my clothes should be fitting me comfortably and look respectable when you're going out".
"Do you think that you've changed since then? Because you're not 'big' now…"
1:18 Ingrid: "And thats the thing. Bigness stays in your mind".
"Ohhh that's interesting".
Ingrid continues: "So although I've lost so much weight and down to size now I still like to dress comfortable. My daughter has to remind me 'You're not XL! You're not (size) 20! You're all the way down to 12!' And I cannot fathom that size".
1:46 "That's interesting. What about you, Ayesha? I know that you had lots and lots and lots and lots of clothes! Are there any that stick out?"
Ayesha: "Actually every dress that I got my seamstress to make stick out. I love velvet. To this day I love velvet. And I will always get the tight around the waist *gestures the shape* and then the A-line cut. Those particular ones. I had a green one and a maroon one"
"Yeah like a skater skirt".
"I would wear it to church. Whatever chance I get. I love velvet. I remember the velvet items I had to this day".
2:28 "Ingrid how did your attitude change towards fashion when you had Ayesha".
Ingrid: "No change really. No change. Still the same comfortable. My style comfort. My colour pastel, white. Although I love black. But there's never an occasion to wear too much black. But soft feminine. Shouldn't really say feminine, you know, because it goes a long way. But nothing loud, nothing bling-y. Just calm, cooling colours. After work you need something calm... and cooling".
"It's true its true. Especially with what you used to do".
3:15 "Ayesha what about you? Did your attitude change?"
Ayesha: "Completely. The funny thing is my style now is exactly what my mom just described. Like before Zainab the fabric that I would pick would be tight and, you know, sequins. I was even thinking about making gowns. I wanted to get into making gowns because I loved anything 'out there'. But after Zainab and just because my lifestyle changed so much, I think of more practical. Because if I make a gown how often am I going to wear a gown? Whereas if I make a normal dress, a real comfortable nice normal dress, how often would I wear that? So I now want to make what I want to wear. So now I just think about comfort. But comfort that has a bit of elegance and still stylish, but overall it must be comfortable and practical".
4:05 "But you always AL-ways look put together. Your clothes may be comfortable but you always look put together. Do you think that you've transferred your love of Fashion into dressing your child, for example? Dressing Zainab, for example".
Ayesha: "Hmm yeah. For sure. Zainab picks her own clothes right now".
4:31 Ingrid: ""She lays them out.
Ayesha : "just like what I do".
Ingrid: "And she looks at it. And she says 'Mummy is that ok?' and all she (Ayesha) will say is if it doesn't suit the weather but apart from that she would never say its wrong".
"Can we remind everybody how old Zainab is?"
Ayesha: "She's four. She just turned four".
*To Ingrid* "What is one piece of advice you would like Ayesha to take into the world".
Ingrid: "To be herself. I've never pushed Fashion on her and there are too many people who follow fashion that doesn't suit them. Ayesha has her own style. She is ASMI. She is Ayesha. So be yourself".
00:27 …"and Ayesha? Do you have a piece of advice for your little fashionista Zainab? Your just turned four going on, I don't know what, 24?"
Ayesha: "The same. I just want Zainab to be Zainab. I don't want her to follow anybody. If one day she decides to pick up boots and a dress and a winter hat, If the weather allows it, so be it. I just want her to be herself. In every aspect not only in fashion. Every aspect. I want her to follow her own mind. Whatever she wants and I am going to support it".
1:08 *To Ayesha* "What has your mother taught you?"
Ayesha: "I don't know…everything. Everything. I don't know. My mum's taught me everything. But everything that she has taught me she has allowed me to experience it myself. Even if I've had to learn my own way. Her guidance. She's channelled me through. Everything. You know?"
1:39 "You two are very close aren't you?"
Ayesha: "Very. I get teary thinking about it".
"Ahhh don't get teary!"
Ayesha: "…but very".
"Well enjoy your holiday. Holiday for one…"
Ayesha interjects: "How'd you make me get teary?!"
"...home for another...Ahhhh I'm sorry!"
It all became a little emotional towards the end of our chat. I hadn't intended it that way but something about catching up with family who haven't been in the same room, or even the same country, together for years encouraged a closeness we hadn't adequately anticipated or prepared for. How often do we really carve enough space and time to sit and reflect on how influential our loved ones have been in our lives. I loved hearing about Ayesha and her fashion journey. We seem to have been living parallel lives decades apart (there is a twenty year gap between us). I had no idea about my Aunt and her struggle with her weight as my earliest memories of her were in London as a slim young mother before Ayesha was even born.
I hope that some of these words resonated with you. Do tell us your thoughts in the comments.
*ASMI Designs is Ayeshas eponymous fashion line.