Well known Linden socialite Yvonne Drakes, has earned the title as veteran seamstress and fashion designer in the mining town of Linden. For more than half a century, she has been turning necks with her unique, impeccable and luxurious designs and she does not plan on stepping down any time soon, despite now being 74-years-old.
Drakes who operates in the Mackenzie Municipal Market (Top Floor), now has a more competitive fashion arena to put up with, as new fashion designers are popping up on the block, but with her accomplishments over the years, Drake has raked in hundreds of clients, who continue to support her. In fact, she said, “I get more work than I can handle.”
The veteran seamstress, says that she does not regret getting into this profession as it provided for herself and her family. Miss Drakes designs several different pieces; for both men, women and children; irrespective of what the occasion is, she has a design to suit. She however says that designing wedding gowns is her forte and she finds significant pleasure in doing this. She noted that a lot of hard work goes into designing garments such as bridesmaid dresses. “When persons see the finished product, they do know the amount of effort that goes into designing that particular piece,” she said.
Despite being the stylist for many, Drakes said her most significant accomplishment is providing training for girls at a government institution. “One of my biggest accomplishments is when I was 65-years-old and I went to train a set of girls at the government school, which was sponsored by the then government, to teach the young girls about fashion designing and what it entails.”
She also trained girls at the Juvenile Detention Centre in Essequibo. “The experience at the institution has been proven to be fruitful since one of the girls was motivated by my input in her life and she was able to do seven CXC’s.” Miss Drakes recalls that that same girl is now a Customs Officer.
Some of the challenges which she faces, is that it is very difficult working and still training persons, noting that there was a designer who spent 20 years under her wings and there was also a tailor who was a bit older than her but as a result of the pandemic, they had to withdraw their services from the business. She now has to do all the work. In addition to this, she said some clients force unrealistic deadlines on her and stresses that she is not a superwoman.
In addition to taking personal orders, Drakes said she also designed clothing for local fashion shows and she also did work for Queen Shows where she placed first, second and third consecutively.
She encouraged young designers to find their own niche and establish themselves more.
In addition to being a fashion designer, Miss Drakes is also a popular poet and dramatist. “I became famous in poetry in 1972 at the first GUYFESTA in Guyana. I was privileged to perform at the Cultural Center the first time it was opened. I like poetry. I use my poetry to send a message. I have found out that persons like laughter and singing and I have complemented my poetry with singing. People remember the laughter and the poetry.”
“I believe that my poetic ability is God given. When I go on the stage to perform, I sometimes do not even say the words that are on the paper. I go with the flow and just say what comes to my mind. Drama and poetry have taken me in and out of the country. I was able to meet people and by doing so we are able to understand life better. By going to different countries, you understand the difference between your country and other countries and it helps you to live a better life.”